Selections from Southwestern Native American Pottery Art Appreciation
American Indian pottery has long been admired for its craftsmanship and beauty. Southwest pottery from such Native American pottery makers as the Acoma pottery makers, the Hopi pottery makers and the Zuni pottery makers is some of the most widely known. However, the pottery from such Native American pottery makers as the Santa Clara Pueblo, the San Idelfonso Pueblo, the Zia Pueblo, and the Jemez Pueblo, as well as other Native American pottery, is often highly sought after. Among the southwest pottery makers, and especially the pueblo pottery makers, the very essence of their particular clay is of the highest importance. The clay is highly valued, often difficult to dig out and is of major importance in the overall look of each particular Native American pottery maker ﾕ s work. Much of the painting of pottery is done in the old fashion method using a fiber of a Yucca leaf as a brush. The artist also do a large amount of carving and scrafitto. Most of the Native American pottery uses slip, a creamy mixture of fine clay and water which is painted over the surface to form a basis for the final painting of designs. One of the differences in pottery making is the difference between hand-coiled pottery and greenware pottery. Handcoiled pottery is literally hand formed, usually in coils of clay. Greenware pottery is poured in a mold. Both are hand-painted, if they are painted at all.The process of making greenware in a mold saves considerable time, and is normally reflected in the price. If you see a larger piece of pottery at a lower price, or a piece of pottery that has sharper edges, you can normally assume that piece of pottery is greenware. Most of the more expensive pottery is hand-coiled. Although these are different techniques, both involve the artist hand-making an individual piece of pottery.
Southwestern Native American Pottery- Overview: There are typical kinds of pottery or “colors” of Pottery Brown White (including gray) Buff Red Yellow Types of pottery: if you were to list the types of southwestern Native American pottery there are about 1500 different types. An there are many different variations and styles. Classification of Native American Pottery can be a daunting task and below is a map roughly showing where the different kinds of pottery are made. Today clay colors can help us determine who and where the pottery is made: Brown= Navajo White= Acoma/Zuni Buff= Northern and middle Rio Grande, southern Arizona, and Casas Grandes Red=Middle Rio Grande Yellow= Hopi
Jemez : Today Jemez ware is red and the best potters polish their pink clay to a brownish red or they leave it matte. Jemez pots often have largely or totally matte surfaces and use a variety of slips to decorate and color their pieces.
Navajo By 1950, Navajo pottery was undecorated utility ware made by only a few families in the Shonto/Cow Springs area. It had two distinguishing characteristics: a lumpy fillet-rim decoration around the rim of jars and a shiny pinion coating applied after firing for the purpose of water proofing. It looks and feels like a sticky varnish and is present on all brown wares made today. Like all potteries influences from other tribe and pueblos can be seen in the commerical ware made by the Navajo.
Santa Clara: Santa Clara pottery today is considered the fanciest of all the pueblos. There are many type of Santa Clara pottery made by different pottery families like Red Ware (or polly chrome), Polly Chrome by Lela Gutierrez, and carve black ware from the Trafoyas.