About Patania Jewelry
Sam Patania - Third Generation Artisan in Jewelry
Sam Patania, as the third generation of Patania artisans, has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather before him. In 1969, at the age of ten, he began his apprenticeship at the Tucson Thunderbird Shop. For the next decade, his after-school training would be a major part of his daily routine. But Sam followed his own path, having sought instruction outside the traditions of the shop.
In his 1977-78 school year, Sam enrolled in a jewelry-making course at Catalina High School where he met his future wife Monica Borquez, and explored new approaches to his craft. In 1979, he became a full-time employee of the Thunderbird Shop.
Times have changed since Frank Patania Sr. first started working, and those changes have led his grandson Sam to reexamine the methodology within the shop structure. He has seen the need to integrate production methods which in the past would have been unacceptable, such as the decision to cast. Previous to Sam’s tenure at the shop, this would have been considered “cheating,” but today, it is a necessary move to keep the shop viable financially. Sam pushes the traditional techniques he was taught and challenges the world of metalsmithing to come with him. In this way he honors his father and grandfather who were also innovators in jewelry, and other artisans as well, including well-known silver designer William Spratling.
Feeding his need for knowledge he would attend the University of Arizona in 1988-89, where he studied with jewelry instructor Michael Croft. “Michael got me to design wildly different work than at the shop,” Sam said, in reflecting on the influence that Croft had on him in the Tucson Museum of Arts exhibition catalogue 'The Patanias: Legacy in Silver and Gold'. The multifaceted work that Croft inspired in Sam included the techniques of lost wax casting, and the Japanese technique of monkume, (a fusion-layered patterned laminate).