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A particularly beautiful Pueblo polished silver cuff bracelet by Mike Bird-Romero, San Juan Pueblo, NM, c. 1990’s

This stunning piece is as much a small sculpture as it is a piece of jewelry. It’s defined by its sinuous shape, its wide expanses of silver and its polished curves all of which are completely unadorned by any applied decoration such as stampwork, chisel work or stone settings. And its beauty and technical sophistication should be little wonder as this bracelet comes from the skilled hands and fertile mind of one of Native America’s most accomplished silversmiths, Mike Bird-Romero (b.1946) of northern New Mexico’s San Juan Pueblo, also known today as Ohkay-Owingeh.

Mike hails from a family of distinguished artists, his Mother. Lorencita Bird was a well-known and highly respected textile artist and his Grandmother, Luteria Atencio was a distinguished potter. Mike is largely self-taught as a jeweler although through good fortune and sheer luck he had the opportunity to have some personal silversmtihings lessons from one of the all-time great Navajo silversmiths, Mark Chee (1904-1981). It was a matter of being at the right place at the right time. Mark Chee married a San Juan {Pueblo woman and moved to the Pueblo full time after he retired from working in Santa Fe. There he still made and sold some pieces of his own, but he helped other silversmiths refine their skills.

The bracelet measures 1 7/8” in width at its widest center point and tapers slightly down to 1 1/4” at the terminal ends. The inner circumference end to end is 5 1/2” and the gap between the terminals is just slightly under 1” for a total interior circumference of a hair under 6 1/2”. The bracelet weighs a substantial 122 grams or 4 ounces but wears very comfortably. The bracelet is in very good, very well-worn condition with a fine patina from all the years of wearing. There are multitudes of small scratches and various nicks and some slight greyish discolorations on the silver. Many of these could be buffed out if desired but we will leave that decision to its next fortunate owner. We ourselves prefer to leave the barecelt “as-is” and let it speak eloquently of how much it has been loved over the years and what it has experienced. The bracelet is properly signed with Mike Bird's customary hallmark of two opposite facing birds.

We are guesstimating the age of the piece a bit here. This is merely our opinion based on the kinds of work Mike was doing at that time and also based on the extensive wear on the piece. We don’t think it likely that it would be much earlier than the 1990’s but it could be somewhat later. If this is a subject that really intrigues you, wear it to Santa Fe Indian Market next year and show it to Mike. We’re sure he would enjoy seeing it again and you might learn something interesting.

This is a wonderful and unique piece which has already lived a well-loved life and is now ready to begin the next one.

Price $1,350


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Mike Bird-Romero c. 1990's.

Photo source and © Four Winds Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA