Dale Edaakie

   Dale was born on August 19, 1957 in Zuni, New Mexico to Dennis and Nancy Edaakie. He was graduated from St. Anthony, a parochial school in May 1973. He then attended St. John's Indian School in Laveen (Kamatke), Arizona, and was graduated in May 1977. From 1977-1978 he attended Phoenix College, then transferred to Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kansas. "At that time I wanted to be a still life artist, painter in acrylics, and a muralist. He was graduated in May 1981. "I was going to go on to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe for a Fine Arts Degree, but with unforeseen circumstances I did not attend school."

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   "December 1979 we came home for Christmas break from Haskell. My youngest brother Derrick was making jewelry already. My jaw dropped, just watching Derrick making pins and bolas. He made it look very easy. Well, he told me that he learned when I was in college. Derrick learned by watching our folks cutting, soldering, and inlaying. I had seen a lot of my folks finished pieces and I'll tell you, they were exquisite. Birds in sterling silver and gold, but I think the gold pieces, like the concha was a work of art. That really sparked my interest. Right at that moment I wanted to be an Artisan, like my folks.
   Woke up early one morning, very determined, started my long hard road to becoming a master inlayer, but Ooh! Ouch! Oh man?! etc…
   I used copper plates to start out with. I think it was 18 gauge plate for designs and 28 gauge plate for the backing. It was very difficult for me. I just couldn't get a handle on cutting out my designs. In the process, I broke hundreds of blades and cut my thumb and index finger so many times. My dad told me that I was holding my saw bow at an angle and that I need to tighten my saw blades. The secret? Well, it's not actually a secret but to saw straight up and down not at an angle. Well, that was good advice, I still use it. A month later I was getting a hang of cutting out designs, not as many cuts on my index finger. Time to let my thumb and finger heal. Now was the time to learn to solder. (At that moment, I was just thinking to myself, oh man?! please don't make me suffer). Once again I was thinking it would be a breeze, to solder some of my good cutouts, Boy! was I wrong. I melted all but one of my cutouts. So, I went to the master. I asked my dad to show me how to solder my last good piece. I watched and listened as he explained in detail how a master solders his pieces. I practiced on soldering scraps of silver that I used to cut out my pieces. By following my dad's advice in detail, I finally learned to solder.

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   Sat down next to my mom and watched her inlay leaves in abalone and jet, coral, and turquoise for the borders. With my piece that my dad soldered for me, I began to do some inlaying with jet. I asked my mom all kinds of questions, how do you do this and that. Her advice to me was that with jet, it is a soft stone, so you have to be very careful that you do not grind it too much, otherwise your stone won't fit. Soft stone? Well, curious me. I must have wasted two or three very large stones of jet. Oops! I practiced day and night just trying to learn to inlay. My mom worked with me on perfecting the art of inlaying leaves and borders. I found out that I couldn't work on their grinding machine. It was very difficult to hold on to the stones because they kept slipping out of my fingers. My mom was watching me try to grind my stones. She saw a mess of stones under the grinding wheel. She suggested that I talk to my dad about a grinding machine that they have and don't use. My dad uncovered this one grinding machine that used water. I tried it out, and Shazam! Man! I loved the machine and the good thing about it too is that, when I'm grinding the stones they don't slip from my fingers.

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   I used to go with my folks to the different gallery shows in Scottsdale. The experience was great. Everywhere I looked, I heard people say 'Dennis and Nancy are the masters of Zuni inlay. Dennis and Nancy this and that.' At that moment I wanted to be like my mom and dad.
   In 1980 I got married to my high school sweetheart, Jenny Lopez, and our daughter was born, who we named Deirdra Montinique Edaakie, We were all so happy and we celebrated.
   From 1981 to 1986 we lived on the Tohono O'odham (formerly known as Papagos) reservation in a village called Gu-vo (Kerwo) and built a home there in 1986. Also in 1981 I thought about making something different other than the birds, something that no one was making, that was, animals. It sparked my interest big time, because as we were driving home from Albuquerque, going through the ice caves, we saw this huge elk standing on the side of the road. Thinking to myself that would make a great bola or belt buckle. It was that elk that gave me the idea to make different animals from A to Z, domestic and wild. I love making animals because I can engrave more detail on them, with birds I can only engrave detail on the wings. I do both birds and animals. I was trying to find a name that I can use to describe my work. Which is Wildlife Artist, and I've been using Wildlife Artist ever since. At that time I was still using Myron.

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   From 1987-1989 I worked at San Simon School as a substitute for instructors on leave, an art instructor, photography instructor, and as a bus driver. In 1988 our second daughter was born, who we named Desirae Courtney Monique Edaakie. We were all so happy and we celebrated.
   In 1992 we moved from Gu-vo back to Zuni, New Mexico. Even while still living here in Arizona, I was still very much involved in making a name for myself in the Exquisite world of inlay jewelry. 1993 is when I found employment in Zuni, as a computer technician. I was the only guy working with, I think, 14 women. Wow! I worked there from 1993-1996. Working on jewelry even after getting off work. I resigned there, because I wasn't getting anywhere with my staying in Zuni. I was hungry for some recognition. I'd seen applications for different shows and I really didn't take interest. Until I heard that when Artists go to shows they get recognition and exposure. I regretted not going to shows. Finally I was determined to really get down and told myself, that if I wanted to get ahead in this world it is to attend some gallery shows and some Fine Arts marketplaces.
   During that time I thought that I was ready to be named a master of Zuni inlay jewelry. I had a long talk with my folks and they told me that I was as good as them or maybe even better. 'Dale' my dad said to me, 'your mother and I consider you a master. All those Best of Show awards tell us that you accomplished your goal to be the best of the best. You do high quality work.' To have my mom and dad tell me that was the greatest feeling.

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   1997 was my first show, the Zuni Marketplace at the Museum of Northern Arizona, in Flagstaff. I entered my reversible necklace. It won Best of Show, Best of Division and my Panda pendant/earring set won Marketplace Award. Since then my family have been attending shows like: Artists of America Show in Scottsdale, The Heard Museum Guild Show, Eight Pueblos Show, Zuni Marketplace at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Pueblo Grande, Albuquerque Indian Market and Art Expo, ReZart American Indian Fine Arts Show, to name a few.
   1998 is when I changed my name legally from Myron to M. Dale.
In 2000 we started the process of opening a Studio and Gallery. We changed Gallery to Showroom. We are still renovating and building our billboards.

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   My daughters Deirdra and Desirae are my models for my jewelry. Also they are my artist reps. They represent me and my work to interested galleries, museums, and/or individuals who want to know more about me and my work. They make me look good. Too good, sometimes I get embarrassed. They will also be hostesses at our Studio and Showroom, once we have our grand opening, hopefully in the fall of this year 2001.
Now, the year 2001, I'm still going strong. Like the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Every chance I get, I would practice cutting out designs, soldering, and inlaying. I've become a perfectionist, if one of my pieces does not come out the way I want it, I'll scrap it and do another one. Sometimes after buffing the finished pieces, I can tell which stone or stones do not fit, I'll take the stones out and believe me it's very hard to take out. The cement that we use is very good."
   Considered the master of Zuni inlay work, Dale's exquisite designs are the ultimate by which other fine artists of this type are measured. Dale's mere 20 years of jewelry making belie his exceptional skill and craftsmanship. Intricately inlaid pen shell, clam shell, winged oyster, black lip, jet, turquoise, coral, and gold mother of pearl create an illusion of a fine painting, framed in silver and gold. Dale's jewelry is prized by collectors and displayed in the finest galleries and Southwestern shops.

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