Vintage Shell Turquoise Santo Domingo Depression Era Thunderbird Heishi Necklace
During the Great Depression, from the 1930s and partially through the 1940s, it was often difficult for Native American jewelry makers to purchase what they had until then considered authentic materials, such as jet. As a result, resourceful Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo) mosaic artists began substituting other materials, including battery casings and LP records. This innovation quickly became a tradition and is now admired and collected for its historic value as well as its beauty.
El Palacio’s online magazine describes the history of this new tradition: Santo Domingo Pueblo’s Depression Jewelry.
Indian Country Today describes an exhibit of this work at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg: Ugly Junk into Beautiful Jewelry?
The Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe gives a brief description of their exhibit of this work in 2011 – 2012: Thunderbird Jewelry of Santo Domingo.