Gilbert "Dino" Garcia is one of only a handful of working silversmiths at Santo Domingo Pueblo. He works with both silver and gold and specializes in casting his pieces in hand-carved tufa stone molds. Dino's pieces, however, are different from those of most sandcast artists. Dino uses a soft tufa (learn more about Tufa) which he digs at a location in Arizona shown to him by his grandfather. This soft tufa allows Dino to carve particularly detailed designs in the stone, but the very softness of the stone means that each mold is only good for casting one piece. Each of his pieces is truly a one-of-a-kind work because the mold itself is destroyed when the cast piece is removed from it.
This ring shows an intricate, hand-carved design that Dino calls "kiva steps." After carving his mold and prior to pouring molten Sterling into it, Dino blackens the inside of the mold by using his acetylene torch. Normally, an acetylene torch is used with a combination flow of acetylene and oxygen. The oxygen makes the flame burn hotter, but also aids in burning off the carbon. Dino lights his torch with only the acetylene flow turned on and, in the absence of oxygen to burn off the carbon, the inside of the mold is blackened. Then he pours his molten silver into the mold and the carbon fuses with the silver surface and creates a nice contrast in the deep-carved parts of the mold. After cleaning up the cast piece and buffing it, the raised motifs are shiny and the nooks and crannies are blackened. The third photo in the gallery shows a mold after the cast piece has been removed.
Width of band: 5/16"