Marvin & Lillie Lovato
Tribe: Santo Domingo
Marvin and Lillie Lovato, a husband and wife team, carve intricate heishi beads out of turquoise and shell. They have been working with Silver Sun for 37 years. Marvin was in Ms. Olson’s English class before she went into the Native American Jewelry business.
Marvin and Lillie learned to make heishi from their parents. Lillie’s parents specialized in small, thin beads and when they were married they taught each other how to make their own distinct styling. They are unique because not very many Santa Domingo families carve their own turquoise and make heishi.
They said that their favorite part of the business is designing jewelry and trying new materials. Attention to both beauty and quality has earned them blue and red ribbons at the New Mexico State Fair and Santa Fe Indian Market. “We’re trying to make something contemporary and still conform to the framework of our traditional ways,” Marvin says. “There is an idea behind everything. For example, turquoise means life. In my necklaces with turquoise, that piece is like life.”
Marvin and Lillie raised their 5 children traditionally, but one daughter is getting into the craft. Marvin and Lillie work out of their home at the Santa Domingo Pueblo in northern New Mexico. Marvin is also very active in the Santa Domingo Tribal Council. In their spare time, they enjoy farming corn, chili, and other vegetables. Marvin would not want us to forget to mention his love of bowling. Lillie teaches canvas crafting to the elders and traditional food making to the women and girls of her tribe.
Marvin sadly passed away in 2020. He is survived by his loving wife and 5 children.