Walker hopes to teach others about metal crafting
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After seeing a need for more people to create metal works of art, Cherokee artist and jeweler Wolf Walker decided it was important to keep the art form alive in Cherokee culture.
Walker said after visiting the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee he noticed there was no metal jewelry on display. And after speaking to the museum director he learned that there hadn’t been for years.
“It’s dissipating for some reason. I don’t know why. So that’s important for me to keep alive,” he said.
With this in mind, Walker decided to teach metal smith classes at the Cherokee Arts Center with the hope of passing on his knowledge and love for the craft.
“We’re having a beginner metal smith class to introduce people to the procedures of basic soldering, cutting, hammering, concepts of temperature, blades for the saw. But more importantly (it’s) having them come up with the creative idea that they’ve always thought about making but never thought that it could be or didn’t think that they had the talent to make,” Walker said.
When teaching a class, Walker said it’s important to let students work at their paces.
“They move along at their own speed because we don’t have a time clock here,” he said. “When they’re comfortable with moving on to the next stage and they reach how far they want to go and then they can move on to the next stage.”
Walker said his Nov. 21 class learned at a “fast” pace, which “excited” him.
“That makes me excited because they’re teaching me at the same time because a student always teaches the instructor more than what the instructor teaches the student,” he said. “That’s my philosophy.”
Walker said he doesn’t influence students, only helps them imagine their ideas come about.
“I don’t push them toward that (Cherokee) traditional way because a lot of them, the students come in, they don’t have any idea of how to apply the designs or the stories they’ve heard with it,” he said. “So I help them develop with that traditional sense because that’s one thing I want them to understand that they have to have, a base of understanding where they want to start from.”
Walker said if people wish to enroll in the class he encourages them to do so.
“You can come in here as a beginner, or you can come in here as a intermediate, or you can come in here as somebody who wants to learn just something in just one class…I can help you out with that,” he said. “I make them feel comfortable because they’re my boss. They know what they want. I don’t know what they want. I just guide them. I make people feel comfortable with what they’re doing because I want to learn from them. The more mistakes they make, the more I learn.”
Although the classes are currently offered in Tahlequah, Walker hopes to take them to communities within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction in 2018.
Beginner classes are $35 per student and are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday. For more information or to register, visit www.wolfwalkerjewelry.com