Born in 1940, Master silversmith and renowned Navajo artist, Thomas Singer died May 31, 2014 in a motorcycle accident. Thomas grew up in Dilcon, Arizona and lived in Winslow, Arizona. He actively made jewelry from the 1960s until his death. His work was included in the 2002 exhibit, Jewels of the Southwest at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe, NM among other prestigious museum exhibits. He won numerous awards and his work is published in well-known books of Indian jewelry. A silver bracelet, created in 2004 is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
In the 1960s, Thomas invented and perfected the use of turquoise and coral chips in inlaid silver work. This method of design is referred to as "chip inlay," and was widely copied by other Navajo artisans. But he began as a master of the silver overlay method and returned to that method, incorporating gold in his overlay. He was also known for carving storyteller scenes with tremendous detail and skill.
Thomas said: "I try hard to make different styles and design of my jewelry. Every piece is made with the meanings from my traditional ways. My father was a silversmith. He taught me and wanted me to continue this trade. It was my father's dream that I learn to silversmith, so that I can continue his belief." Thomas learned the art of silversmithing, when he was just 7 years old, from his father Tsinnigine Hathali, a Navajo Medicine Man. Thomas incorporates many traditional sand painting and rug designs of the Navajo people into his jewelry. And Thomas himself passed along his skills to his children Richard Singer and Anthony Singer. His wife Rose Singer, continues to make his signature beaded necklaces under the new Hallmark T&R Singer. His brothers Charlie Singer and William Singer and sister Jackie Singer Thomas are also jewelry makers, as is Thomas' niece Lulu Begay. Talent runs in the family.