Delbert Gordon

Delbert Gordon with daughter
Delbert Gordon with daughter
Shy
Shy
Family Guardian
Family Guardian
Perry Null Trading:

In the Navajo culture when a man marries his wife he goes to live with her and her family. So where are you originally from?

DelbertGordon:

I am originally from Houck, Arizona.

Perry Null Trading:

Did you attend school in that area?

DelbertGordon:

When I first started school it was at the Pine Springs Boarding School. I did not have to stay in the dorms, but would come home each day because we lived close. After that I attended Hunters Point and then went to the Tohatchi High School Boarding School.

Perry Null Trading:

Were you an athlete in High School?

DelbertGordon:

I participated in track the 100 yard dash and 220 yard dash. I was pretty good at those events. Did it more for myself.

Perry Null Trading:

When you were in high school did you start making jewelry or take jewelry making classes.

DelbertGordon:

They had classes for jewelry making but I never took them. I was not interested in jewelry at that time.

Perry Null Trading:

When did you start making jewelry?

DelbertGordon:

After high school my brother in-law and I started to make jewelry. I didn’t know anything about it and had to teach my self everything. We only made one ring and sold it to a shop on 66 in Gallup, he would pay us $85 for the ring.

Perry Null Trading:

How long did that last for?

DelbertGordon:

He bought them for a long time. I finally started to make other types of pieces and would take them around town to the different buyers. That was when I started to get pretty good at making jewelry. My brother in-law did not have the patience for jewelry making so he went to work in construction.

Perry Null Trading:

Do you remember the best piece of jewelry you made during this time?

DelbertGordon:

I don’t remember those early pieces. In the 1980s I got a check from the New Mexico State Fair for a piece I sold to a Gallup trader that had entered it in the Fair. It had won a ribbon and I didn’t even know what piece it was.

Perry Null Trading:

How long did you keep making your own pieces for sale?

DelbertGordon:

I had been selling for about 10 years when one of the local shops in town asked me to work for them. So they would give me the stones and silver and I would work at home and in the shop. I did this for over 20 years, never doing any other work.

Perry Null Trading:

Would they tell you what type of pieces to make?

DelbertGordon:

Yes, they would tell me what they needed, but I would give it my own style. They would ask me to come up with different styles then use it to make more similar pieces.

Perry Null Trading:

Why did you leave?

DelbertGordon:

At the time I really was making a lot of good jewelry for the business and wanted to go out on my own to make more money. I wanted to establish my work and have more buyers.

Perry Null Trading:

What do you think makes a good piece of jewelry?

DelbertGordon:

Good stamp work, if you have a stamp that is different it can really make your piece stand out. The trouble is that it takes a lot of time to make your stamps and they only last for a short run. I try to make them out of hard materials so they will last longer. I will always look at old work and try to remember the stamp patterns and style.

Perry Null Trading:

You are wearing a rodeo buckle, do you compete?

DelbertGordon:

I have ridden both bulls and saddle bronc. It was mostly a hobby that allowed me to do some thing I enjoyed besides working on jewelry.

Perry Null Trading:

Derrick Gordon is your nephew, did you teach him how to work with silver?

DelbertGordon:

I taught Derrick how to silversmith, he used to watch me and help out. When I was working for the trader in Gallup I got him a job there. He left like I did to try and make his own style of pieces.

Perry Null Trading:

What type of jewelry style are you trying to become recognized for?

DelbertGordon:

When I take the stone I do not really know what I am going to make. It takes too much time to draw out a style or pattern, so I just start working on the piece and it starts to become something. My style is what the stone wants to become.