Tufa carving is Lee Begay’s stock and trade. He gathers fine quality tufa, harvests it at the jewelry supply but is a master carver. He sands a face flat as can be and carves his design, en verso. I don’t know how he can see what it will be but he certainly has a vivid imagination. Then he clasps his carved mold against a similar flat tufa sheet and pours molten silver into the cavity. When he separates them, hopefully the silver has flowed into all parts of his carving for a successful pour. His return is amazingly high because of his high skill level. Almost every mold self destructs after only one pour.
This naja is masterful and you can see how classic it is. The tufa texture is evident. The turquoise tab choker, ca.1990’s, measures about 18″ and is interspersed with shells in purple, white and green.