Tommy and Rosita Singer - Navajo
Tommy grew up in a small community of Dilcon on the Navajo reservation. The Singer family has been involved in silversmithing, stone and beadwork for a very long time, handing the art down from one generation to another. Tommy learned the art of silversmithing from his father when he was just 7 years old. Tommy incorporates many traditional sandpainting and rug designs of the Navajo People into his jewelry. Tommy began creating jewelry full-time at the age of 21. His early works were done in the silver overlay technique. His work soon began to feature Turquoise stones.
Tommy was a Navajo silversmith who specialized in chip-inlay jewelry. His inlaid turquoise, coral, and silver pieces incorporated traditional Navajo designs. Singer gained acclaim as the originator of the chip inlay design. Because of this innovation, Tommy is considered by many as one of the greatest contemporary Indian jewelry silversmiths of our time. Even though he was world renowned, he worked on the Navajo reservation in a small studio surrounded with his family and other tribal members.
While working with scrap turquoise chips, Tommy pioneered the technique of Chip inlay used by thousands of artists to this day. For many years Tommy and his brothers created Jewelry using the Chip inlay style. Later in life, Tommy had returned to his roots by creating Exquisite Silver Overlaid Jewelry with intricate designs. His current work often includes 14 Karat Gold Overlaid on Silver. Tommy also carved storyteller scenes and silver bead necklaces with tremendous skill.
When asked about his work, Singer said, "Every piece is made with the various meanings from my traditional ways - the Navajo way of living. My father taught me and wanted me to continue this trade. It was my father's dream that I learn to silversmith so that I could continue his beliefs."
His work is well known internationally and is featured in a number of Indian art publications. One can easily recognize Tommy’s work. He marks his finished pieces with “T. Singer” or with “T and a crescent moon”. Whether Tommy created a bolo tie, buckle, ring, necklace, pendant, or bracelet, he stated that, “All my jewelry is made to satisfy my customer. Each piece is unique and is made very different. I try hard to make different styles and designs of my jewelry.”
His legacy of work will continue to live on for many years. In fact, Rosita (Rose) and the family have continued Tommy’s legacy by creating jewelry with his designs. Tommy and his wife Rose came up with a new hallmark before his death which is “T&R Singer”. Once all of the items he made are sold, the family will be signing the new jewelry with the T&R Singer hallmark. His legacy of work will continue to live on for many years.