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Zuni cluster style ring by Lorraine Waatsa
Artist: Lorraine Waatsa
Lorraine Waatsa’s cluster work is exemplary! The daughter of Alice Quam, Lorraine had a great teacher, and with her husband, Luwayne, produces some of the finest cluster jewelry ever made. Lorraine works primarily in coral, lapis and Fox Mine Turquoise
Combining many stones into one piece makes some of the most beautiful and exciting Native American jewelry. Depending on how the stones are cut, this style of combining stones can be called Cluster-Work, Needle Point, Petit Point and Snake Eyes. These four styles emerged in the early 1920’s-1940’s and are primarily made by the Zuni Tribe, although some Navajos will make similar designs. These styles have a feminine quality to them, as the stones are set in small and elegant settings.
These designs are very tedious as each bezel (the silver holding the stone) is individually shaped and solder. Then the stones are cut, glued to matchsticks, then shaped and polished with a series of grinding wheel
Many artists excel at combining stones of any shape into large clusters to form a design/pattern. The term “cluster work” is a general term that is used to describe this style. Many times, “cluster work” is used synonymously with Petit Point. Generally, with “cluster work” combinations of small round, square, rectangle and teardrop stones are used to create an infinite number of designs.