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Sometimes it's not enough to hang that trophy on the wall. Santa Fe artist Richard Stump has come up with a way for outdoorsmen and women to wear their trophies - or at least commemorate them - on belt buckles and jewelry.

An avid hunter himself who first went out bird hunting with his dad when he was four years old and took his first deer when he was 12, Stump is also an artist who has been creating one-of-a-kind pieces since 1980.

"My inspiration comes from creating animal figures or themes that reflect my own experience. When I'm outdoors hunting and fishing, that's what feeds my soul. I can transfer that into the studio so when I'm carving out an elk or a trout, the process is always fresh and new."

Stump, a native Santa Fean, made his first piece of jewelry in high school, but he didn’t consider doing it professionally until the early ‘80s. He has shown his work at major galleries in Santa Fe and in all of the Southwestern states as well as in New York and Los Angeles. He studied fine art at the University of New Mexico and fine art and illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Stump's early work was inspired by traditional Native American designs in silver. "As the years passed, I found my own little niche - Western but with a contemporary flair."

He spent many years guiding hunts and white water rafting trips in Colorado and New Mexico and soon found himself building designs around North American big game and spiritual Southwestern designs. He has incorporated elk ivory teeth in several of his designs for earrings, bracelets, buckles and other functional forms of houseware. He also likes to use other animal materials such as buffalo horns and claws from the large predators.

Stump hand fabricates every piece that comes out of his studio. Working in both silver and gold, he does not cast his pieces but rather cuts everything by hand. The engraving, too, is done by hand. "I don't just do the design and hand it over to a workshop. Each piece takes time, each process is labor intensive. To me, that's what makes it an art form."

His fans and collectors agree. His pieces are available at the R. Stump/J. Rippel gallery in Santa Fe, a gallery he opened with his friend and business partner, John Rippel.

"I train horses, I hunt, I fish. I am always going to live my life in the outdoors, and that is always going to influence my work inside the studio."

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