Tommy Singer & Ortega Shop? Again?

I’ve seen several posts regarding the HMIJ Ortega Shop Hallmark and the mystery T chip inlay silversmith whose work resembles that of Tommy Singer. I’ve looked high and low to see whether he did any work for that shop, to no avail. At the same time, it was only recently I found Calvin Begay did pieces for A Touch of Santa Fe. So maybe Tommy Singer didn’t work for the Ortega Shop, but created some pieces for them. Is that a possibility?

Anyway, I have a new pendant brooch that sure looks similar to my other Tommy Singer piece I posted awhile back. This one measures 2-1/8” in diameter and weighs 23 grams. The HMIJ and hallmark is well worn. It looks like somebody enjoyed rubbing their fingers on the pendant.

I’m thinking it’s a birdman. Somebody else may see something different?

So is Tommy Singer a possibility, even with the Ortega shop hallmark? Am I imagining a bird man?

Thank you one and all for your always honest and thoughtful input.



Anything is possible. Tommy Singer is credited with starting this popular style during a turquoise jewelry boom. He had his own shop in Holbrook and employed several people who he had making chip inlay. When we come across a piece of chip inlay we naturally hope that it is a Tommy Singer piece. He is collected by a number of people and if he did work for the Ortega shop I imagine it would be known, especially from the Ortega shop who would promote this fact. Tommy Singer used lots of Native American Church symbolism in his pieces, the bird he often uses is a Peyote (Water) Bird. However, this design seems to be more of a Zuni Knifewing hybrid. Calvin Begay did work for a handful of manufacturers here in town and has also had his styles and hallmark used in reproductions by unethical producers.


Thank you so much, Jason. I thought it looked kind of…sort of…maybe like a Zuni Knifewing at one point but kept coming back to the bird man. And another of those pieces that I guess I’ll never know who really did it, but it’s still very different.

I did read just recently about Calvin Begay and some shops continuing to create his designs and use his mark after he left.

Thank you!