Along the portico of the Palace of the Governors, and on the north side of the Plaza opposite, Native Americans take up their places each day to sell jewellery and other traditional crafts. This is an eighty year old tradition, nowadays operated through the “Native American Artisans Program of the Palace of the Governors”. There are around 1,000 vendors who are licensed to sell here after going through a strict application process to assess the quality of their work. The goods displayed and sold by participants in the scheme must be made by the seller or by their household members. Every morning the 63 spots available, each 12 bricks wide, are allocated by lottery, so you can never be sure who you will find here or what they will be selling. But it’s a great opportunity to buy directly from the creator and as they all seem happy to talk about their work you will also find out a bit about the piece you are buying.
What to buy: I looked at a number of items. One man was selling silver necklaces with representations of the different sacred animals, such as Bear and Wolf, and explained the meaning of each to me. But in the end I opted for turquoise, choosing a pretty silver necklace threaded with small stones which the seller told me came from Arizona.
What to pay: Prices seemed reasonable to me for the quality of the work – you are of course cutting out the middleman by purchasing here rather than in a shop. My necklace was $40 – I didn’t try haggling as no one else appeared to be doing so, and I felt the price was fair.
This is my last tip; return to the Intro page
We arrived early one morning at the Sanctuario de Chimayo, but found congregants praying in the chapel. Rather than disturb them, we all agreed to backtrack to Ortega's Weaving Shop and return a short while later to see the little chapel.
It was a very good decision! The Ortega family has been offering beautifully woven creations since the 1700's, so their products stand out from the crowd!
Inside the shop, we discovered brightly colored weavings of blankets, placemats, coasters, pillows, men's and women's vests, jackets and coats, bookmarks, purses...so many things expertly done in gorgeous combinations of hues and designs.
The store also had a glass case full of silver and torquoise jewelry, from which I selected a nicely designed bracelet (see picture#3). The pieces were discounted 25%! Somehow, a reflection of gold and red are shown in the picture, which is not on the actual torquoise.
To one side of the shop is a small room containing looms (picture #2), the type on which these lovely items are created.
Note: This shop was priced better than the shop by the same name located off the Santa Fe town plaza.
What to buy: Any woven item--beautifully executed in lovely colors
What to pay: Reasonable
Shidoni Foundry is five miles north of Santa Fe and a feast for the eyes! As we pulled into the driveway, large contemporary sculptures could be seen scattered over the landscape. A shop architecturally designed to blend into its surroundings, sat at the end of the parking lot.
As you near the shop, an endearing statue of a child with raised arms crafted in bronze stands near the door. (picture #5)
Inside, a large, striped cat selectively curled up beside two pricey metal pieces, luxuriates in the sun (picture #2). Bronze nudes, whimsical metal sculptures and Southwest style carvings were displayed throughout the room.
A small room in the rear held numerous art pieces, among which was a bronze crucifix created for and used by the former Pope. The artist had won a fellowship to the Vatican and this piece was used in a mass.
A second building on the grounds displayed carved, curvacious wood furniture (picture #3), bright paintings, intricate metal pieces, unique jewelry and large mobiles. I selected a pair of pale green earrings made from beach glass, that I thought were so pretty (picture #4)!
We visited Yippee Yi Yo at least three times while in Santa Fe. It was just a super place to find all things with a Texas/Southwest style.
The store was located along the central plaza, which made it convenient since our hotel was just a block or so away. It also was stocked with wonderful things! If you look very closely, you'll see a pair of black and torquoise ceramic cowboy boot salt and pepper shakers. We purchased these for our daughter, who really likes kitzch.
Aside from that, Yippee Yi Yo carried many books related to the West and Southwest; Native American blankets and pillows; stuffed animals and toys; puzzles; cool cowboy boot keychains; leather belts and purses; t-shirts; jewelry; pictures and so much other merchandise. I only wish I could remember all that they carried!
You won't be sorry you stopped here--but you might be if you don't. Try Yippee Yi Yo for a unique and special gift...it was also a great place to pick up something for our daughter and grandkids.
What to buy: Western/Southwestern inspired items
What to pay: Moderate to pricey
If you're on the lookout for festishes, you can hardly do better than Keshi, a coop which has been marketing Zuni arts and crafts for the past thirty years. Case after case of beautifully carved mountain lions, bison, snakes, eagles, wolves, frogs, rabbits, turtles, moles, badgers, and bears will enchant you. These fetishes have been used by the Zuni for a millennium. Each has its own natural traits, and so carrying one or keeping it handy to look at may be a way of summoning our own strengths. (In fact, Keshi provides you with a small bag of blue corn with which to "feed" your festish and enhance its special traits.)
There are, of course, many necklaces of fetishes. Authentic Zuni fetish necklaces feature finely made shell (or jet, turquoise, or coral) beads from Santo Domingo Pueblo between each fetish. You can expect to pay at least $200.00 per strand for such necklaces.
Other jewelry, belt buckles, and traditional items are also available.
What to buy: I found a perfectly carved crow with the turquoise eye which I plan to give my son upon his return from Tokyo, where crows are a major hazard of daily life. It is nice to know his provenance -- the shop gives you a receipt with the name of the carver and the pueblo, which is a great idea.
What to pay: My crow, which is about an inch high, was $40.00.
Bobby Nofchissey bills himself as "Fine Native American Jewelry Sales & Services" and truer words were seldom spoken. I doubt we'd have found his space in the Santa Fe Arcade if it had not been for the glowing recommendation at Keshi, where my friend had purchased a replacement Zuni bracelet for one stolen in an Albuquerque house-break. The new bracelet wasn't quite large enough to be comfortable, so she bought the matching earrings, also a lovely inlay, and at the store's urging, took both items to Bobby. Less than an hour later, he'd fabricated new connections, installed a new clasp, and handed my friend a bracelet that she'll happily wear for years. He was not inexpensive, but the craftsmanship was impeccable. If I were in the market for some high-end pieces (especially in gold), Bobby would be my choice.
As we explored Canyon Road, this gallery's sculpture garden drifted past the window. "STOP!" I called out. Our friend (and driver) applied the brakes and I dashed out of the back seat and into the walkway of Waxlander Galleries.
These kinetic wind sculptures caught my eye and I just had to see them up close! The sculptures were in three different sizes and in a multitude of colors. The wind gently coaxed some to move in soft undulating movements, while others spun around uniformly.
Eventually, my husband joined me because I couldn't draw myself away. We inquired as to the prices and were told it would take only three weeks to create one of the smaller wind sculptures.
Waxlander Gallery had contemporary oil paintings and pastels (I saw a striking piece in this medium, too!) Ask for Nancy, she was soooo informative!
What to buy: Kinetic Wind Sculptures, a Painting or a Nice Pastel
What to pay: These are an investment--don't ask me the price!
Sometimes you just connect with a piece of art immediately! Such was the case for me with this wonderful sculpture by Vala Ola at Sage Creek Gallery. It is called FLYING.
But a little background...Ola was classically trained in Europe and is from Iceland. She sculpts at her studio in Scottsdale, Arizona.
I love that her bronzes of children are so lifelike--she captures them in such realistic poses, like that shown in the picture. Her pieces are noted for "their depth of expression and emotion".
This bronze sculpture was very expensive and I lost my heart to it! It was a pleasure to be introduced to her work. Maybe someday we'll own one of her pieces...
Besides Sage Creek Gallery, Vala Ola's works appear in galleries in Scottsdale, Palm Desert and Santa Barbara. She also does portraits in oil that are exquisite!
Sage Creek Gallery is located off the town's main plaza by a couple of blocks. Ask for Sande who will give you more information on this gallery.
Nambe' is difficult to classify because their literature decribes their handcrafts as being NEITHER silver, lead or pewter based. But these pieces certainly look like they would contain all of the above!
But first things first, these products were named for the small village where they were first handcrafted in 1951. They are created from a form of metal casting, which can be dated back 3500 years to the Egyptian culture.
According to the shopkeeper, Nambe' items can be used directly from the freezer to the oven, then taken to the table. They will not scorch or add any taste to your foods. After use, the pieces will develop a patina and "won't tarnish, rust,chip or peel";
I found these pieces to be beautiful and was hoping to select a salad spoon and fork, but I didn't find anything I thought would coordinate with my everyday stainless. There were also delicately etched glasses and vases that would make great gifts or add a sparkle to your special table settings.
This particular shop discounted and was located outside of town (see address & picture#2), but there is a large shop on the main plaza in Santa Fe, which also sells silver and torquoise jewelry as well as Nambe' kitchen/home accessories-- but these items are offered at full price.
What to buy: Shiny, silver-like utensils and vessels for the home
What to pay: Less expensive at the shop outside of Santa Fe
I'm in a quandry trying to describe Jackalope. Just imagine a big bazaar with merchandise from Mexico, India and China....add a touch of the tacky with some true bargains and that just about describes this store.
I'd been pricing mercury candleholders from the Pottery Barn for a couple of months. I found similar ones here for half the price (see Picture #2)!
There were windchimes, glassware with matching pitchers, dream catchers, souvenir magnets, basketry, sunglasses, ceramics, clothing, wood jewelry boxes and catchalls, bright floral patterned plates and bowls, huge pottery planters and more,more,more!
It's a colorfully decorated store with brightly colored products--it's a FIESTA for the eyes. Stop here for cute, moderately priced souvenirs and everyday inexpensive items.
Please see picture #3 for the exterior of Jackalope, which I'm afraid is a very poor picture, but it gives a sense of the place.
What to buy: Shop for bargains
What to pay: Things looked pretty inexpensive for the most part
Tesuque Glass had a nice selection of unique and contemporary glassware.
As I surveyed the store, I noticed plates with lovely swirled patterns, vases crowned with a flourish of ruffles, colorful bowls and glass baubles in assorted hues for the garden, bracelets, earrings, wine and beverage glasses, stylized floral votives and whimsical red glass chili peppers.
Each piece of art glass was arranged to its best advantage on shelves or hanging just so to catch the light from the windows, reflecting it beautifully throughout the shop. (picture#2).
The glass studio was located near Shidoni Foundry--also in the shopping tips.
What to buy: Unique art glass creations
What to pay: Art prices
Galeria Ortega is located next door to Ortega's Weaving Shop and is a good source for souvenirs and items with a Southwest theme.
You'll find Southwest inspired potholders, oven mitts and drink coasters; souvenir magnets; dream catchers in all sizes and colors; kachina dolls, books on the southwest, nambe' serving pieces, decorative glassware, plates, pottery and many other things.
We walked out with oven mitts and ceramic coasters decorated all over with bright red chili peppers. What can I say--I've been smitten by the Southwest!
What to buy: Southwest inspired creations
What to pay: reasonable
THAT was a piece of trivia that surprised me. What used to be a backwater turquoise mining town - Santa Fe - is now the second largest art market in the U.S., second only to Manhattan. The art IS incredible - and very plentiful.
A good place to see the sophistication of the art is in the galleries on Canyon Road. They are lined up all along the road, and display a wide range of art from traditional to contemporary, from Southwestern to international. There is even a gallery called Pushkin dedicated to Soviet trained artists.
What to buy: Paintings, pastels, watercolors, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, tapestries, yard sculptures, fountains.
You don't have to be in the market to buy works of art to enjoy Canyon Road. I really enjoyed strolling along the road and going from gallery to gallery. Some of the art fell in the category of stuff I would never buy, but a lot was so impressive, it literally took my breath away.
A visit to Canyon Road is like a visit to a museum, but the best part of it, it is free!
What to pay: OK, here's the catch. The art isn't cheap. Most items sell for thousands of dollars.
The stores in downtown Santa Fe have a great selection of jewelry, pottery, clothing and handicrafts in the New Mexican style. I picked up some gorgeous Zuni and Navajo sterling silver and turquoise jewelry, beautiful Acoma pottery, and also some very comfortable moccasins that I wore until they completely fell apart.
The biggest change we noticed from 1988 to 2005 is the proliferation of high-end fine arts galleries and fine jewellers. Those stores are extremely pricey - way beyond my budget. However, you don't have to spend that kind of money for beautiful jewelry made locally. Instead, look for folk art designed by local pueblos or native jewelry made of sterling silver, lapis, turquoise and opal.
What to buy: My daughter and I had a great time shopping for jewelry here. We bought earrings and bracelets. She doesn't know this yet, but my husband and I also bought her a beautiful Zuni link bracelet for her 8th grade graduation and a matching set of tear drop earrings. Each separate link in the bracelet has an intricate inlaid design made of turquoise, black onyx and coral stones. I think she'll love it!
What to pay: We didn't do our shopping at the fine jewelers - that would have been way too expensive. There's no need to go to these places unless you want diamonds, 14K gold and precious gems. Go to the stores that specialize in native sterling silver jewelery. We bought beautiful earrings and bracelets for a mere $30 to $50, a fraction of what we could have paid at a fine jeweler in Santa Fe.
One of our favorite stores was the Virginia Trading Post. We liked their prices and selection of jewelry and their T-shirts, which had embroidered Southwestern designs, rather than simple silkscreen prints.
Even if you don't buy a thing, Jackalope is still a fun place to go to. You could roughly classify this place as a home and garden store, but you can find so much more there that doesn't fall into that category...jewelry, kitsch, all kinds of stuff! There are about five buildings to shop in as well as a large courtyard for the pottery and garden art. Also, there is a prarie dog village, donkeys, a fish pond, and other animals.
This is my favourite place in Santa Fe to shop for souvenirs....and for myself!
What to pay: You can spend less than a dollar to hundreds of dollars, there is something for every budget.