For the past 45 years, the Willie Family has been making exquisite traditional silver and copper jewelry. They specialize in bracelets, pendants, rings, buckles and concho belts. They work with highest grade stones. They reside just west of Albuquerque in To’hajilee, one of the three Navajo ‘pocket’ reservations, previously known as ‘Canoncito’. (continued below…)
The Willie clan was introduced to silversmithing when the oldest son, Lonnie, attended the Albuquerque Indian School in the early 70s and began developing his own designs. Lonnie showed his parents Andy and May Willie what he was learning. They in turn shared techniques with other relatives and neighbors in To’hajilee. Styles began to develop and mature. Lonnie became highly-recognized and received numerous awards in the 80s and beyond. He and brother Rudy taught their younger siblings. The Willies are well-known for their own hand-made stamps used to create bold designs. Their stamping designs include stars, chevrons, balls, ovals, diamonds, hearts, Greek crosses and many others. Their stamping is clean, crisp and deep. They use heavy-gauge (16) for their bracelets and pendants. Some are hammered; others, not. The current silversmith-clan members are Laura, Melissa, Ronnie, Rudy (and wife Happy), Juan and the younger generation – Dakota, Cooper, Tawney and Allen, and Davana.
The next ‘generation’ of Willie silversmiths has finally ’arrived’. Daughter Tawney and husband Allen Cruz are creating new designs in earrings, pendants, rings and bracelets. Inspired and taught by her father, Lonnie Willie, the couple are creating intricate and innovative earring designs. They are using both family stamps and newer ones, including “Tawney & Allen”.
Tawney, at 31, and Allen, at 29, have the desire and knowledge to produce great pieces of art. They began working in copper, using family designs, in late 2015.
Since the summer of 2016, they began working in silver, selecting quality stones and learning from their illustrious father. I have been working with them since then.
The Willie family work is in great demand and is selling in Europe as well as throughout the country. Some lesser artists copy the Willie designs but the differences are clear to the discerning eye. The family signage is a script “Willie” with an initial or two before the family name.