Greg Lewis was born and raised in Richmond, California, and moved to the small village of Paguate in 1979. Paguate is one of six villages on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation and is the birthplace of Greg’s grandmother and father. Greg learned silversmithing at the age of fifteen from his paternal grandfather, Alvin Concho Lewis of Acoma, who learned his techniques from an uncle. Greg’s artwork is greatly influenced by his grandfather who retired in 1982 after 60 years of silversmithing. During the 1940’s, Alvine Lewis was a ship builder and became familiar with metal that would eventually turn into his own personally handmade stamps, pounding tables, specialized anvils and conch tools and dies. Over the years, Greg himself has learned the lost art of tool making.
The style of silverwork made by Greg is called repousse – relief decoration. He starts with flat sheets of gold, sterling silver, copper, or brass ranging from 30 to 12 gauge thickness. His handmade tools are fashioned from used files and tool steel bars. The tools feature handwrought designs and are finished with heat treatment to make them strong and hard. The tooled designs are for creating an impression. Other tools include a ball-peen hammer, rawhide mallet, files, sheet metal shears, and a jeweler’s saw. The only modern equipment used is the oxygen-acetylene torch and buffing wheel. Over the years, Greg has continued to trade and purchase only high-quality natural turquoise from the mines in Nevada and Arizona. These mines include: Kingman, Darling Darlene, Red Mountain, and Royston. All the turquoise is handout and set by Greg.
Greg prides himself in keeping the “old style of art” alive after four generations. “I enjoy showing people my methods because they reflect the traditional ways my grandfather taught me. It is very important that these time-honored skills be kept in the family and passed onto future generations.”