In 2013, Lester James was awarded Honorable Mention for an inlay bracelet at the Navajo Nation Fair. That was considered the third best piece of art. But that was not his first award, in 2012 he did the lapidary work on a piece called “Starry Night” with Aaron Anderson that won first place at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial. His first win was the Navajo Nation Fair in 2005.
Lester James graduated from high school in 1994 and was looking for work. The Nugget Gallery hired me and that was where I would learn inlaying.
His auntie did silver beadwork. She would teach me the basics, soldering and buffing. I always needed (wanted) money in high school, and she would pay me good. So, I did have that experience before being hired at the Nugget Gallery.
When he was hired at the Nugget Gallery, Ervin Tsosie, Wilbert Manning and his brother Wilson Manning we’re working there. He started to watch them and would practice inlaying at home. Eventually, he started getting a few pieces to inlay at work, simple stuff.
Lester James met Aaron Anderson around 2009 and started working in his shop. He started to get a lot more work and was able to just concentrate on his own pieces.
The pieces we get are tufa cast, something he learned from Aaron. He really enjoy drawing and you get to use that in tufa carving.
He lives south of town and has a couple of horses, he really enjoys riding them. When he was younger he did open show bull riding and like that lifestyle and won four buckles, but he knew it was only a matter of time before he got injured.