A Santa Fe native, Walt Doran grew up admiring the legendary Indian traders that were among his family friends. He spent hours in their galleries– studying the painstaking workmanship that went into the old pawn jewelry. Curious about these pieces, he began to research their background and became fascinated with the process of making objects out of metal.
In 1978 Walt left New Mexico for Europe. He traveled for three years, visiting Denmark, Holland, West Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, France and Spain. Everywhere he went, Walt sought out and studied design, architecture, ironwork, painting and sculpture. “I went to every museum, every gallery,” Walt says,” I returned with hundreds of drawings and piles of photographs.”
Classic techniques such as stamping, chasing, repousee’, overlay, inlay and engraving came to life under the new vision formed by Walt’s European design study. In addition, Walt’s love of New Mexico and the work of the Indian traders he grew up admiring began to be reflected in his work.
Walt’s silver jewelry has been featured in the film Dances with Wolves, and his expert knowledge is sought after by local artists. He believes that a work of silver must be “significant, deeply personal, and a totally solemn outward mark of an interior intention.” At its core function, though, Walt’s goal is down to earth; mostly, he says, “I want to make art that people will keep and wear for a long time, and hand down to their grandchildren.”