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Harry Morgan

Harry Morgan (???? – 2008): Harry Morgan was a fifth generation Navajo silversmith and an outstanding Native American jeweler and whose creations are highly respected and prized by artists and collectors alike. Harry lived near Gallup, New Mexico where he grew up.

Harry was the nephew of two well-known, popular silversmiths, Charlie Bitsue and Ike Wilson. Most of their high quality creations are collector items and can be found in many museums. Harry began casting jewelry when he was seven and by age twelve was a silversmith. After graduating from Gallup High School, Harry received a 4-year scholarship from the Navajo Tribe to study engineering.

However, Harry had a bigger dream: He wanted to become a rodeo cowboy and achieved that goal. After several seasons on the circuit, Harry decided he wanted to return to creating jewelry. He opened his own silver supply store in Crownpoint, New Mexico where his mother inspired him to create jewelry in the enduring pawn style. It is for these pawn-style creations for which he is most famous.

The stamps Harry used to decorate his work were inherited from his parents, uncles and/or made by him. Much of his work was made with silver he rolled himself and on which he put a satin finish to give every piece an antique look.

Harry’s inspirations were born in nature. He drew on elements he found in the canyons as well as the colors he observed there at different times of day. His work is all hand crafted in the Navajo silversmithing tradition. While at his workbench Harry would occasionally find a special turquoise piece lying in the box where he stored the natural treasures he had collected for at least 20 years. Until he had an idea for that specific piece of turquoise, he held onto it.

One example of his skill and imagination is a bracelet that boasts fine precision in the stamp and file work that mimics twisted wire. Harry established a reputation for distinctively traditional pieces of great quality. He won awards at every major Indian art show. Two of his five children have taken up the art of silversmithing and the Morgan tradition is now in its sixth generation.

In addition to creating handcrafted jewelry in the Navajo style that were destined to become family heirlooms, Harry thought that teaching his family these traditions plus instructing them about how to be the best at their craft was the greatest gift he could leave them.

Kelly and Jacob Morgan, two of Harry’s sons have become well-known silversmiths in their own right and Jacob says he and his brother are proud to carry on the family tradition. He also says, “I (do) my absolute best to keep the Old Style alive for the next generation … creating jewelry that uses the finest, natural turquoise and heavy gauge sterling silver in traditional Navajo designs that employ an oxidation process to mimic age. It’s style that balances silver work with natural freeform turquoise.”

“The boldness of the silver is what’s beautiful. You don’t want to over decorate the silver. You want your jewelry to be big and bold.”- Harry Morgan

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