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A beautiful contemporary sculptural vase of Arizona Desert Ironwood inlaid with turquoise

and silver by Lawrence Favorite

This is literally our one “favorite” piece, the only piece of contemporary wood artist Lawrence Favorite’s (b.1980) work we have ever had. Favorite began his artistic career in Arizona working with local materials; Desert Ironwood, turquoise, silver and other stones. He has since relocated to North Carolina, but continues to work in his Southwestern idiom with exclusively Southwestern materials.

This sculptural vase is a remarkably sophisticated and difficult to make piece. First off, Sonoran Desert ironwood, Favorite’s material of choice from which he makes all of his pieces, is one of the hardest, densest and most difficult woods to work with. It is one of the heaviest woods in the world and unlike most woods will not float on water, sinking instead due to its extreme weight. It is also extremely durable and can last up to 1,600 years. Lawrence Favorite’s elaborate stone and metal inlay work is also extremely painstaking and precise sometimes involving hundreds of tiny pieces of stone. Favorite uses a jeweler’s loupe to place the tiny inlay pieces into the wood which

he says he grinds up to an extreme fineness using an old garbage disposal.

“It’s very time consuming, the wood is extremely hard; normal woodworking tools won’t cut it. Other woods are soft, I wanted something that would last.”

-Lawrence Favorite

The Desert Ironwood Tree (Olneya tesota)

Photo source and © Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

The vase’s shape is just stunning with a sloping curvilinear form which beautifully highlights the complex grain of

the ironwood. The vase rises up to a narrow thin neck and an angled slanted spout. The front of the vase is decorated with an extraordinary and extraordinarily elaborate abstract inlay composed of around a hundred tiny pieces of turquoise arranged in several jagged lines which further emphasize the shape of the vessel and the grain of the

wood. The color contrast between the deep dark reddish-brown of the ironwood and bright sky blue of the

turquoise is striking and beautiful.

This particular combination of materials and colors has long fascinated great Southwestern jewelry artists such as Hopi jeweler Charles Loloma and Navajo silversmith Kenneth Begay both of whom worked extensively with ironwood, turquoise and silver in combination. The back of the vase features a silver inlay panel which is a stylized abstracted version of a group of Native American dancing figures. We should also mention the remarkable overall polishing on the vessel; it is satiny and incredibly smooth.

The large vase measures 13 3/4” in height and is 7 1/2” wide at its widest point. It weighs an impressive 6 1/4 pounds,

a testament to the density and weight of the Desert Ironwood. The vase is in excellent original condition and it is properly signed “L. Favorite” on the bottom along with a small additional piece of turquoise inlay.

This marvelous sculptural vase is a Modern, Classic, mysterious combination of beautiful and unique Southwestern materials, textures and colors all contained in a wonderful and unique organic shape. It would look just as impressive and perfectly at home in a Modernist Mies van ver Rohe New York City high-rise apartment as it would in

a modest Santa Fe or Tucson adobe home.