When I frist started to cut stone and do my mosaic work it soon became very clear that if I wanted to be able to market the stonework I was doing, I would need to learn metalsmithing. Fortunately my machinists background had already taught me the basics, and through trial and error I pretty much figured out everything that was required to accomplish any given project.

After I had been at Lapidary for about five years I met the person who would be the strongest influence in my goal to attain my metalsmithing ends.

The person was Michael Schmaltz of Gallup, New Mexico. Mike and I struck it off right from the start and had a long and interesting friendship. If there was ever a question regarding metalsmithing I knew I could talk to Mike about it and he would steer me in the right direction. Funny thing Mike would rarely show me exactly how something was done, he would just give me little titbits of his knowledge knowing that if I thought about what he was telling me and applied my own techniques I would find the results I was after.

Mike Schmaltz is one of the finest metalsmiths/lapidaries in the country and I bet you never knew his name until you read this.

Thanks Mike!




Boxes

Many times in my career I have had something catch my interest that I will refine over a period of time. Below you will see this in the progression of boxes I made between 1978 - 1981



Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box    Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box

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Very Early 1978 or 1979 Sterling Silver and Jewelers Saw Work Pill Box.





Sterling Silver Box Turquoise, Lapis, Orange Spiny Oyster and Yellow MOP Mosaic

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1979 Sterling Silver Pill Box.

Inlay is done with Turquoise, Lapis, Orange Spiny Oyster and Yellow MOP

About the size of a quarter





Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box

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1979 Sterling Silver "Hopi Overlay" Style saw work.

The design is a positive negative mirror image with circle line texture inside.

Approximate size 3 X 1 3/4 inches




Sterling Silver Box Mimbres Fish Design Mosaic

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1980 Sterling Silver. Top and bottom rim of round wire.

Inlay done in two types Kingman Turquoise, Jet, Orange Spiny Oyster and White MOP.




Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Chalcosiderite, Jet, Turquoise and Red Coral Mosaic    Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Chalcosiderite, Jet, Turquoise and Red Coral Mosaic

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1980 Sterling Silver "Hopi Overlay" Style saw work. Top rim of triangle wire.

Inlay done in Chalcosiderite, Jet, Turquoise and Red Coral.

Top could be removed and worn on handmade chain that fit in box for storage.




Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Chalcosiderite, Jet, Turquoise and Red Coral Mosaic    Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Chalcosiderite, Jet, Turquoise and Red Coral Mosaic

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1980 Sterling Silver "Hopi Overlay" Style saw work. Top and bottom rim of triangle wire with circle line texture inside.

Inlay done in Chalcosiderite, Jet, Turquoise and Red Coral.


In 1981 I decided to combine the various Lapidary / Metalsmithing skills I'd learned over the past three years to make the last box I have made since.

The box below was made in 1981 and sold almost as soon as it was completed. I was honored to learn in 2010 that this box was included in a permanent collection "The Helen Cox Kersting Collection of Southwestern Cultural Arts" donated to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. I was pleased to see that this box was given a full page image in the beautiful hard cover catalog of the collection.



Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Turquoise, Jet, Red Coral, MOP and Orange Spiny Oyster Mosaic    Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Turquoise, Jet, Red Coral, MOP and Orange Spiny Oyster Mosaic

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Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Turquoise, Jet, Red Coral, MOP and Orange Spiny Oyster Mosaic    Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Turquoise, Jet, Red Coral, MOP and Orange Spiny Oyster Mosaic

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This hex shaped box metalwork was constructed using sterling silver sheet, triangle wire and round wire and quite a few jewelers saw blades.

As with much of my early work I kept my color pallette to a minium. My desire at this time was to let the designs do the visuals not the colors being used.

In the ten mosaics I used only five materials. Turquoise, Red Coral, Jet, White MOP and orange spiny oyster.





Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Turquoise, Jet, Red Coral, MOP and Orange Spiny Oyster Mosaic    Sterling Silver Hopi Overlay Box Turquoise, Jet, Red Coral, MOP and Orange Spiny Oyster Mosaic

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Because I did not want to make just a box, I designed a necklace that the box top could be attached to.

You will notice that in fact there were four different combinations for wearing the necklace. All Hopi Overlay, all mosaic, mosaic pendant Hopi overlay necklace and finally Hopi overlay pendant and mosaic necklace.

I even designed the necklace so it could be stored inside the box when not in use.




Bolo Ties Early Nineties


In the late eighties I started marketing quite a bit of what I was making in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was asked if I could make some out of the ordinary "Bolo Ties", the results are below.


Bolo Tie Geometric Pattern  Sterling Silver, Gem Lapis, Green Faustite, Blue Turquoise, Sugilite and Opal Mosaic.

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Geometric Pattern Bolo Tie Sterling Silver, Gem Lapis, Green Faustite, Blue Turquoise, Sugilite and Opal Mosaic.

16 gage backplate with 18 gage strips for border, domed prior to Mosaic. Bolo slide made with 16 gage round wire.

Being the first bolo tips I'd made there was room for improvement but these weren't too bad.



Stained glass pattern Bolo Tie Sterling Silver,Black Jade, Green Jade, Sugilite, Turquoise,  Orange Jasper and Opal

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Stained glass pattern Bolo Tie. Sterling Silver,Black Jade, Green Jade, Sugilite, Turquoise, Orange Jasper and Opal.

It is hard to believe but there are 74 separate pieces of silver in the tips for this Bolo tie.

The bolo itself has 42 giving a grand total of 117 hand made silver pieces for construction.




Mimbres Lizard Bolo Tie Sterling Silver Chinese Spiderweb Turquoise, Faustite, Opal, Red, Coral, Sugilite and Lapis Mimbres Lizard Bolo TieSterling Silver Chinese Spiderweb Turquoise, Faustite, Opal, Red, Coral, Sugilite and Lapis

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Mimbres Lizard Bolo Tie. Sterling Silver Chinese Spider web Turquoise, Faustite, Opal, Red Coral, Sugilite and Lapis.

The Silver work is done on 16 gage plate. The legs and toes are half round wire, the outline of the Lizard body is 18 gage strip.

After construction the silver work was domed prior to the inlay.




Optical Illusion Bolo Tie Sterling Silver,Green and Blue Turquoise, Orange and Red Spiny Oyster, Gem Lapis and Sugilite

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Optical Illusion Bolo Tie. Sterling Silver, Green and Blue Turquoise, Orange and Red Spiny Oyster, Gem Lapis and Sugilite

Just trading for two Watchmakers lathes the tips for this Bolo Tie were lined with a cutting tool rather than stamping with a chisel.

The design in this Bolo Tie was repeated in other projects and is now the basis of my logo.

16 gage backplate with 18 gage strips for border, domed prior to Mosaic.



Bracelets 1978 to 2000

I rarely made rings but over the years I must have made hundreds of bracelets.
Below is what I think is a good selection of bracelets in silver.




Bracelet Sterling Silver,Turquoise, Jet, Red Spiny Oyster and Yellow Mother of Pearl Mosaic
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Very early 1978 or 1979.

The mosaic design was very pleasing but at this time I had a lot to learn when it came to producing a strong bracelet shank.

Mosaic done with two types of Turquoise, Jet, Red Spiny Oyster and Yellow Mother of Pearl.

All bracelets below are made from hand poured silver ingots that are then hammered into a shaped shank usually thicker at the top and thinner near the opening.

Late 80's early 90's



Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver Damalie Turquoise

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Early Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver Damalie Turquoise




Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver Beautiful Hard Rock Gem Chinese Spider web Turquoise
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Early Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver Beautiful Hard Rock Chinese Turquoise

This turquoise would rival the best #8



Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver Beautiful Hard Rock Spider web Chinese Turquoise   Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver Beautiful Hard Rock Gem Chinese Spider web Turquoise
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Early Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver Beautiful Hard Rock Chinese Turquoise

Center of shank cut out with chisel.



The bracelets below were made near the time I stopped making "Hammered Silver" I just wish that I had better images.



Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver 21 matched handcut Gem Chinese Spider web Turquoise cabochons
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I made maybe 12 bracelets in this style and should have photographed them all, especially the one in red coral!


Hammered Bracelet Sterling Silver 21 matched handcut Gem Chinese Spider web Turquoise cabochons
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All bracelets have 21 matched handcut cabochons
Above bracelets Lapis, Chalcosiderite and Hard Rock Chinese Turquoise.


ROW BRACELETS



Sterling Silver Row Bracelet 55 stone Blue Gem Turquoise
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Sterling Silver Row Bracelet 55 stone Blue Gem Turquoise.
All stones came from a single vein so they match pattern as they cross the face of the bracelet
1986?

Sterling Silver Row Bracelet 55 stone Blue Gem Turquoise

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Sterling Silver Row Bracelet 33 stone Dayglow Green Faustite

Sterling Silver Row Bracelet 33 stone Dayglow Green Faustite Green Chinese Spider web Turquoise

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One of the last "Old Style" pieces I made. Early 90's



I got a call from a friend/customer asking if I wanted to buy back a bracelet I had made for her in 1991. I asked her to send an image of it which she did. When I saw the image I told Suzi that I did not remember the bracelet and wondered if I had made it.

I asked Carolyn if she would send the bracelet so I could view it in hand, she said sure and it arrived a few days later........ Well seeing as though it had my "lopacki" stamp on it, I for sure had made it.

This bracelet is one of the last "Old Style" pieces I made, I was very pleased to be able to buy it back as it is one of my finest. The turquoise is high grade Chinese and the cabs were cut from the same piece of rough so they match.

Sterling Silver Old Style bracelet

Sterling Silver Old Style bracelet

Sterling Silver Old Style bracelet


This row bracelet came back to me at the 2013 Tucson gem and mineral show. Suzi and I were at a friends booth visiting when our friend Art Seymour who was watching our room called me and said there was a person in the room that had one of my bracelets and it was for sale.

While walking back to the room my thoughts were that this person had one of my "Bread and Butter" pieces. We got to the room when we walked in Art said there's Danny. The person walked toward me and handed me this bracelet. I was floored I did not remember this bracelet at all.

My guess is I made this bracelet in the early 1990's but I can't say for sure. The turquoise is all Chinese high grade, this is a true catalog of all the wonderful looks that came from mostly the main mine. You can see almost any known US mine look in the turquoise in this bracelet. Other stone in the bracelet Sugilite, Lapis and an orange red jasper.
Sterling Silver Row Bracelet

Sterling Silver Row Bracelet

Sterling Silver Row Bracelet


Dovetail Set Bracelets

Left: Lapis,Chrysophrase and Red Agate.

Right: Best Blue to Green Chinese Spider web Turquoise from stone in center.


Sterling Silver Row Bracelet Dovetail Set Gem Blue to Green Chinese Spider web Turquoise.

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While looking at images of Dynastic period Egyptian Jewelry it dawned on me that the only way they could have set some of their stonework without glue was by using a dovetail in their metal work.


3 Sterling Silver Row Bracelets Dovetail Set Gem Chinese Spider web Turquoise

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Left: Green and Blue Turquoise with Sugilite
Center: Chinese Turquoise, Lapis,Nephrite Jade Red and Yellow Agate.
Right: Northern Light "Nevada" Turquoise and Red Agate.

A friend walked into my shop with a carry-on size suitcase, he had just come in from Taiwan. He opened it and inside I saw the best pile of Japanese Coral I'll probably ever see. He wanted me to help him clean it and sell it.

I did manage to get enough to make this color change bracelet in all the shades he had, from the palest pink to the most beautiful Ox Blood Translucent Red Coral you'll ever see.

Sterling Silver Row Bracelet Dovetail Set Light Pink to Ox Blood Red Japanese Coral

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Early on this style was hand made, I used 16 guage sterling as a base then soldered fine silver hand drawn 1/4 round for the stone. The shank pattern was done with hand drawn sterling 1/2 round

There were a few bracelets of this design cast one or two in 18K a few others in Sterling. It's easy to spot the cast form handmade, on the handmade you can see a tiny solder joint where the 1/4 round contacts the shank, on the cast there is no line.




Belt Buckles


I only colaborated on a few items in my carreer, all with Mike Schmaltz.

As I have stated, Mike is a master at what he does and few approach his feel for "Old Style" Silversmithing as shown in the image below.

Michael Schmaltz Old Style Sterling Silver Belt Buckle with Daniel Lopacki Chiefs Blanket stone mosaic

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Mike and I were looking at this silverwork one day and I think I said I could do a Killer mosaic in it, he handed me the buckle and said have at it.

Well the pressure was on what do I put in this beautiful Silverwork. Old Style Navajo what better than an early Chiefs Blanket in the center.

The stone in the mosaic is Turquoise, White Jadeite, Black Nephrite, Yellow Jasper and Red Agate. I remember the stonework width being about 2.1 inches




With Mikes strong influence over the years I got above O.K. on my own "Old Style".

I made a few Concho Belts with this design over the years and to this day I wear a buckle of this design with green Carrico Lake Turquoise Cabs.

Old Style Sterling Silver Belt Buckle Chinese Spider web Turquoise Cabochons

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The amount of hammer blows to make just one of these is unbelievable. In order to get a deep consistant stamp image you sometimes have to anneal and then re-stamp each impression three times. The same applies to raising the teardrops.

After stamping you then chase the two lines that you see around the S pattern. After chasing you then cut the outer edge with a shaped chisel, usually two to three strikes per arch.

There are over 160 cuts stamps or raised drops in this one piece if you don't count the hammer blows in the chasing you still come up with about 500 hammer blows in this one buckle.

A Concho Belt had 13 such pieces THAT'S A LOT OF HAMMER BLOWS!



Pins

I made quite a few pins over the years and hope to add more images in the near future



Very early "Old Style" 1982?

Sterling Silver Pin Hand Stamped   Carrico Lake Turquoise Sterling Silver Pin Hand Stamped

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I was just learning raising techniques and clean stamp work at this time.

At this time I had not yet learned to use heavy gauge if you want it to look right. I just used 20 gauge plate for these pins.






20 gauge again. Cleaner deeper stamping the use of the Turquoise and applied silver dots much improved the look.

Carrico Lake Turquoise Sterling Silver Pin Hand Stamped Turquoise Cluster Work    Carrico Lake Turquoise Sterling Silver Pin Hand Stamped  Cluster Work

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One drawback, I was using commercial stamps. On my later work all the stamps used were handmade, either by myself or antique stamps I found in pawn shops.






I was visiting with a friend John Hornbeck whom for years I have called the " Spiny Oyster King ".

We were up in his shop and I saw a very old post card tacked on his wall. The post card had an image of a Zuni Shalako, around the Shalakos neck was a pendant that gave me the idea for the pin below.



Sterling Silver Pin with Gem quality Chinese Spider web Turquoise, Jet, MOP and Red Spiny Oyster Mosaic

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The silver was probably 16 guage with minium stamping about 3 inches across. The mosaic work is done with Gem quality Chinese turquoise, Jet, MOP and Red Spiny Oyster.

1993?




One of the earliest influences for my designs was the Mimbres culture which was located in southwest NM. Funny thing is I now live in southwest NM almost right on top of where this culture lived.

Sometime in the early 90's I designed four different Mimbres inspired pins. I never kept any of the pins but got very lucky a while back and found three of them on Ebay. The four designs a dragon fly, a frog, an inch worm and a fish.

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ALLAN'S BUTTERFLY

A good friend whom I was involved with in the early years of "Chinese Turquoise" brought four slabs of beautiful Chinese spider web to my shop. "Ron wants to treat this! What do you think?

I told him that I thought Ron was nut's and that if he left the stone with me I'd make him something "Killer" out of the slabs.



Gem quality Chinese Spider web Turquoise Old Style Sterling Silver Butterfly Pin

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The above pin was at the height of my "Old Style" work. It was made sometime in the early to mid 90's.

The base plate is 16 gauge all bezel is hand filed saw tooth fine silver, with very fine gauge wire twist wire.

The serrated shot is handmade with the use of an antique hand made Navajo shot plate (best shot I've ever seen).

The feelers are made using 18 gauge half round and a very tiny V stamp for texture and tipped with a silver ball pounded flat. The three applied pieces of silver were 18 gauge.

The eyes are Northern Light Dayglow Green turquoies, the wings are the rock Ron wanted to treat....... It never got treated.

I gave this pin to Allan as a gift then some years later I saw it in an article about Turquoise in Cowboys and Indian magazine. Apparently Ron decided to take over possession of the pin as he was the one who laid claim to it in the article.

I made it for Allan and as far as I am concerned it will always be Allan's pin.

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Brendan Francis ... "If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don't hoard it. Don't dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke."