Don Dewa: Zuni Jeweler
Don Dewa is an extraordinary Native American jewelry artist whose characteristic Sunface Spinner can be seen on much of his work. Though Don began making jewelry in the 70’s, it wasn’t until the 90’s that his mother-in-law taught him the fine art of mosaic inlay. Utilizing this new skill set to its fullest, Don Dewa went on to produce some amazing jewelry – some of which has been published in numerous books on the Zuni.
Don uses mostly primary colors (blue: turquoise or lapis, red: red coral, yellow: gold mother of pearl) in his work, along with black (jet or black onyx) and white (white mother of pearl), to create striking patterns. These bold designs capture the essence of Native American style. The Sun Face symbol has been used in many cultures throughout history to signify Divinity, warmth, and growth; however the particular design Don Dewa frequently uses – with the slit eyes, small round mouth, and emanating rays – is characteristic of many Native American tribes.
Many of his bracelets and pendants are not only aesthetically pleasing, but unique in that they include spinning parts (referred to as "spinners"). Many of his sunfaces can literally spin around so that the design on the back is visible. Some people prefer to have the sunface looking outward at the world; others turn the sunface to reflect back on them, regarding it as a private symbol only they are aware of!