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TERLINGUA’S FRONTIER ARTISAN: PAUL WIGGINS, SILVERSMITH

June 13, 2013

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Terlingua Ghost town was one of my favorite stops on my Southwest Pilgrimage. There are so many things that make this place special, and the people who live there on the fringe are a big part of the mystery of the town. Big Bend is a place where you can go and completely check out of life and live in the present.  This is why people go there and never leave.  Terlingua Ghost town is filled with artists and hippies and people who wanted to get away and “do their own thing”. I’m fascinated by these types of wanderers and pioneers and I couldn’t get enough of their stories sitting down at the coffee shop below La Posada Milagro.

I spent as much time as I could at the coffee shop getting to know the locals, and in the process I was introduced to Paul Wiggins who has lived in Big Bend for over 35 years.  He went to Big Bend after attending Rice University, and like many others that visit, he never left.  He has been creating his one of a kind silver creations for over 20 years and I was seriously impressed when he first showed me a bracelet he was wearing.  His designs are extremely unique and I have never seen silver jewelry like this ever before.  There is a simplicity to his work that speaks volumes about him as a person and how he has lived his life.  He sand casts all of his creations and fabricates them all on his own, sometimes taking months to perfect his designs.  The integrity of each piece is remarkable and within each one, you understand what living on the fringe provides an artist: truth, solidarity and a unique perspective. Paul doesn’t create art for the purpose of popularity, money or success; he creates as an extension of himself and his truth.

Silversmith Paul Wiggins

Silversmith Paul Wiggins

An assortment of cuffs

An assortment of cuffs

The silver concho belt is beyond amazing!

The silver concho belt is beyond amazing!

I covet this belt!!

I covet this belt!!

Copper and silver pieces reflect his Texas roots

Copper and silver pieces reflect his Texas roots

This is a mini replication of a Native American canteen

This is a mini replication of a Native American canteen

The shapes he creates are very unique

The shapes he creates are very unique

Paul's father's life in the military has a major influence on his designs.  This cuff is a favorite.

Paul’s father’s life in the military has a major influence on his designs. This cuff is a favorite.

The crosses are influenced by the local cemetary's graves.

The crosses are influenced by the local cemetary’s graves.

Growing up during the Vietnam war has influenced his design

Growing up during the Vietnam war has influenced his design

Such a unique piece, this one belongs to me!

Such a unique piece, this one belongs to me!

Paul inscribes his logo, the year and "Terlingua" on every piece he creates giving each piece it's own mark in history.

Paul inscribes his logo, the year and “Terlingua” on every piece he creates giving each piece it’s own mark in history.

Artisan Paul Wiggins

Artisan Paul Wiggins

I feel so honored to own one of Paul’s designs and I’m excited to share his special work with the rest of the world in this post.  You currently can only buy Paul’s work directly from him in Big Bend.  He doesn’t have a website, he doesn’t have a cell phone, and no he actually doesn’t have email either.  That’s what living on the fringe is folks! If you would like to commission a piece from him, you can call him on his home phone (432) 371-2361.  In the meantime, I’m working on a plan to help him get into some stores so more people will be able to own one of his special pieces.

Thanks to my road dawg, Lindsay Lohden, for the beautiful photographs of Paul’s work.  You can follow her eye on instagram @lohdy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2013 11:09 am

    Those are beautiful — am especially enamored with those cuffs, similar to the work of my friend Billy Moore. What an opportunity to a talented and humble maker!

    • June 13, 2013 11:13 am

      Oh, I will have to check him out! The military cuffs? All of them are amazing, it was so hard to choose. Yes a very special meeting indeed!

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