Artist Interview: Aaron Toadlena
Posted on March 20, 2013
Recently Bonecutters sat down for an interview with Navajo silversmith Aaron Toadlena.
Bonecutters: Where were you born?
Aaron: I was born in Fort Defiance in 1958.
Bonecutters: Is that where you live now?
Aaron: No, I live in Sawmill, Arizona.
Bonecutters: Were you raised in Sawmill?
Aaron: No, I was raised in Tohlaki. I went to boarding school there. Then I went to boarding school in Tohatchi. While I was in boarding school in Tohatchi I met Delbert Gordon and David Reeves.
Bonecutters: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Aaron: Yes, I have seven sisters and five brothers.
Bonecutters: Wow! That's a big family!
Bonecutters: How old were you when you started silversmithing?
Aaron: I was about twelve years old when I began to silversmith.
Bonecutters: Who taught you to silversmith?
Aaron: My brother Gordon taught me to silversmith.
Bonecutters: Have you always been a silversmith for a living?
Aaron: No, I have been a carpenter, a mechanic and I worked for the Navajo Housing Authority in my twenties. I also drove a semi for seven years in my thirties.
Bonecutters: What is your favorite jewelry to make?
Aaron: I like to make old style bracelets and squash blossoms.
Bonecutters: Are there any silversmiths that you have been inspired by?
Aaron: Yes, I like Perry Shorty's work alot.
Bonecutters: Are any of your children interested in silversmithing?
Aaron: No, but I have some grandkids that are showing an interest.
Bonecutters: Have you won any prizes for your work?
Aaron: Yes, I have entered pieces in the Gallup Ceremonial and have a number of first and second place ribbons.
Bonecutters: We really love your work here at Bonecutters and thank you for taking time to tell us a little about yourself!