Artisan and college student Nevada Watt hosts an impressive new silver show.

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Nevada Watt, the daughter of silversmith Jeremiah Watt, created the Fusion silver show and sale to spotlight the work of some of the best Western silver artists.
The show poster is burned canvas and features the artwork of Hannah Ballantyne. “The West is reflected in the guy’s Ray-Bans, which was designed to show the tradition of the West in modern times,” Nevada says.

Create a functional headstall, but get as artistic as you want with the silver work on it. That was the assignment Nevada Watt gave artisans interested in participating in Fusion, an invitational silver show and sale she was producing and curating in conjunction with the third-annual Buck Brannaman Pro-Am Vaquero Roping held October 23¬–25 in Santa Ynez, California.

“Our motto was ‘creativity within constraint,’ ” says the 21-year-old silversmith, who is a senior at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. “I wanted to focus on silver for this year’s show because it’s what I know best, and it was easier to showcase silver on a functional piece of gear like a headstall than just have the pieces to display.”

Eighteen artisans from nine states and Canada rose to the challenge, creating elaborate yet functional silver pieces to fit on either a 5/8-inch split or sliding-ear headstall or a 3/4-inch browband headstall. Some had been at their craft for decades, while others were just starting out.

Dossie Cribbs expressed his creativity in a Native American design with turquoise accents.

 

“I invited more than 40 people to be in the show,” Watt says. “Some were people I met in Elko [Nevada] a couple of years ago [during the exhibit Expressing the Rural West into the Future held at the Western Folklife Center], while others were recommended by family and friends.”

 

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Braidie Butters created a bouquet of silver for her headstall.
Elegantly engraved silver adorned the headstall Baru Spiller created.

 

Watt says 18 headstalls was the perfect number to display in the small building undergoing renovation at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center. Though the building was not fully renovated by the time the show was unveiled, Watt says she “embraced the industrial look,” creating displays out of copper pipe fittings with an Edison-style vintage light bulb illuminating each piece. A long strip of canvas hung on the wall behind each headstall on which viewers could write comments to the craftsmen and -women. The pieces showcased in the center of the room on pipes protruding from hay bales had an art canvas hanging beside them for comments.

“I wanted the canvas backdrops to give space to the pieces on the wall,” Watt explains. “Also, having people write on the canvas offered an interactive element to the exhibit. People love being part of a show, and I’ll send the canvases to the artists.”

A few of the silversmiths attended the show, including Kevin Hall from Colorado, Baru Spiller from Texas, Watt and Bill Reynolds of Old Cowdogs Western Silver in California, who also co-produces the Pro-Am and was in favor of adding a gear show to the traditional, Californio-style ranch-roping event.

Fancy floral and filigree buckles adorn the headstall created by Shawn Didyoung.

 

“I’ve been friends with the Brannamans for a long time, and I’ve helped at the Pro-Am the past few years as a secretary,” Watt says. “Reata [Brannaman] said, ‘Hey you should do a silver show,’ so I came up with the idea and sent my plan to Bill [Reynolds] and he thought it was a great idea, so we went from there.”

The show was a natural fit for the annual roping event, which draws more than 100 three-person teams and spectators from all over the United States and Canada who appreciate and collect custom gear. Eight pieces sold during the show, and the rest are still available for purchase. To view the entire show, including pieces for sale, visit fusionsilvershow.com.

Fusion Silver Show Exhibitors

Dave Alderson, Idaho
Dave Belongie, California
Richard Brooks, Canada
Braidie Butters, Texas
Randy Butters, Michigan
Dan Conway, Kansas
Shawn Didyoung, Montana
Garrett Duncan, Oregon
Kevin Hall, Colorado
Pat Horlacher, Oregon
Matt Litz, Texas
Bill Reynolds, Old Cowdogs Western Silver, California
Baru Spiller, Texas
Dominic Valine, Canada
Jeremiah Watt, California
Nevada Watt, California
Kevin Willey, Wyoming

Jeremiah Watt web
Jeremiah Watt designed traditional Spanish-style silver.
David Belongie’s headstall featured a contemporary floral buckle with stones.
Randy Butter pushed the boundaries of creativity with seahorse-inspired silver.

 

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