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Charlene Reano - May 2000

The Highlight of the Month program at The Indian Craft Shop focuses on a particular craft area, region or artist family/group. Our aim is to illustrate the diversity of tribal groups and the wide variety of artistic expressions and traditions in the country today.


Charlene Reano was born in 1966 to Joe and Terry Reano of the Santo Domingo Pueblo. Since she is not the only artist from Santo Domingo named Charlene Reano she hallmarks her work with the name "Charlyn" to distinguish herself. Her jewelry creations are so original and distinctive however, that they are immediately recognizable as Charlene's creations.

One of Charlene's trademark techniques is the "marriage of metals", a process by which several different metals are combined to create sheets of polychromatic material. This is a difficult process with many steps involved. Sheets of different metals such as copper, sterling silver, brass, nickel silver and gold are stacked and soldered together to form a solid block of layered material. Slices are then cut from the sides of the block and cranked by hand through a pair of heavy steel rollers to yield a flat sheet showing all the different metals as parallel stripes of color. Charlene uses these sheets of "married metals" to make beads and bracelets, and as highlights or embellishments in other pieces of silver or gold jewelry.

As well as combinations of metals, Charlene uses a variety of other techniques and unusual materials to create her award winning, one of a kind pieces. For over a hundred years Native silversmiths have used a volcanic rock called tufa to carve molds for casting silver jewelry. Charlene continues this tradition with fresh, innovative tufa cast designs. As well as casting complete pieces such as bracelets, she uses tufa cast pieces as elements in larger pieces, such as linked necklaces or earrings. Her husband Shane Hendren (Navajo) assists her with casting her pieces, and his hallmark appears alongside hers on collaborative pieces. Charlene's jewelry often features gemstones that are not often used by other American Indian artists. Crysoprase, crysacolla, lapis and of course turquoise embellish much of her work.

Charlene "Charlyn"™ Reano is an original, innovative artist whose deep roots in an ancient and traditional culture allow her to branch out in new directions and reach new heights of creative art.

                                                              ©The Indian Craft Shop 2000