Cynthia Rutledge - Contemporary Designs of Timeless Elegance
Symbol of the West
©2020 by Cynthia Rutledge

Symbol of the West ©2020 by Cynthia Rutledge
Few fashion jewelry statements are specific to a locale, but the Native American bolo, or bola, tie is synopsis with the Western United States, especially Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. Mid 20th century bolo ties were designed and made by Zuni, Hopi and Navajo silversmiths, and were at first, basically a sliding component designed to keep a bandana from coming off from around the neck.

Even though the history of how the bolo tie came into being is clouded, many feel that the history began with Victor E. Cedarstaff, a Native American silversmith and leather worker who lived in Wickenburg, Arizona in the 1940s. Cedarstaff was among some cowboys that were chasing after some wild horses when Cedarstaff's silver-bordered hatband slipped off, making him lose his hat. He retraced his steps to find his hat and hatband and slipped the hatband over his neck for safekeeping.

Symbol of the West ©2020 by Cynthia RutledgeCedarstaff decided to create a line of ties inspired by the incident. He braided leather, placed silver tips on the ends to keep them from fraying and then joined the strands with a turquoise stone to be used as an adjustable clasp. He applied for a patent, calling his creation the bola tie, named after the boleadoras cords (a throwing weapon made of round weights suspended from woven leather cording) worn by Argentinean cowboys. This iconic style changed the course of western wear!

Additions to the early designs included inlaid turquoise and shell, making these early bolo ties rare and beautiful. Today, Native American bolo ties utilize almost any material that can be inlaid into sterling silver, raising the bar for artistic license.

Symbol of the West is inspired by the early bolo styles. A "woven" peyote stitch cord ends in two bezeled metal ovals and a decorative pearl and beaded cap. The slide is actually stationery in this design. An oval metal component is the backdrop for a bezeled CZ and pear CZ drop. A bolo tie taken to another level!

Workshop length: This is a 1-day workshop exclusively designed for The Heart of Texas Bead Retreat 2020.

Skill Level: Intermediate to advanced. No skills needed for the metal. These techniques will be taught in class.

Dimensions: The center component is 1.25 inches high by 2 inches wide plus the CZ drop. The necklace cord is 49 inches long including the metal and pearl drops.

This piece was created exclusively for the Heart of Texas 2020 workshop.

On to Arabesque Collar Workshop...



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