The Turquoise Trail

I draw inspiration for my jewelry directly from my experience working as an archaeologist in the American Southwest. Through this work, I am able to see first-hand how my ancestors used natural materials to express themselves through their personal adornment.

I am drawn to the organic nature of ancestral designs, which is why I choose the styles and materials I work with, such as various turquoise, stone, seashells, and other natural sources.

Various mosaic earring styles, black argillite, cottonwood root & slabs.

I generally prefer to acquire and purchase the materials I use in the rough state. Meaning that the material has not already been manufactured into a finished state, such as cabochons. One exception are the shell heishi, or small drilled beads, that I use in some of my work. Being able to work the material from rough to finished product is part of the appeal of doing this type of work.

Also, as an archaeologist, making my jewelry in the manner I do helps give me insight as to the processes, skills and patience that my ancestors used in their own creations. Thus, when I am doing fieldwork and encounter ancestral jewelry, I have a better understanding and appreciation for what I am recording.

Shell mosaic pendants.

I handcraft wearable artwork such as pendants, necklaces and earrings. My work consists of mosaic inlays, slabs and natural free-forms. I inlay or back my work in cottonwood root, which is lightweight, but I also use ironwood, which is heavier and darker, and offers a nice contrast with the stones and shell. I also use various colors and textures of argillite, or pipestone as either a main component or backing.

Mosaic & Necklace Styles of FTE Studio
Upper Left: Argillite/Pipestone pendants. Middle/Bottom Left: Ironwood earrings. Right: Black Argillite earrings.

To see what jewelry and other products are currently available, you can see here, Available Jewelry & Products

I am available for commissions, which may require a deposit. Contact me to discuss options. I usually have pieces finished in about 5 business days, depending on complexity, size, availability of specific materials and most importantly, my current fieldwork schedule.

Jet & Turquoise inlay earrings.

If you have any questions feel free to drop me a comment or send me an email at:

lyle.balenquah@gmail.com

You can also request to follow my Instagram page to see what items are being worked on. Hit the Instagram button at the bottom of the page!

Thanks for supporting my small educational outlet and business!!

Turquoise & Shell “Mana” (girl) earrings.