Artistry in Clay

Pottery is one of the most enduring forms of Native American art. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it is also very satisfying to know that the pottery artists of today make their pots in the same manner that their ancestors did in prehistoric times. Indian potters do not use a wheel to form their pots. Instead, after obtaining their clay near their pueblos and painstakingly preparing it, they form the coils or ropes of clay and shape the pot coil by coil. Then the pot is dried, scraped with a piece of gourd, sanded, and slipped with a fine clay mixture. The pot is polished over and over with a polishing stone often handed down from generation to generation. The skillful polisher gives pot its lasting and beautiful sheen. Santa Clara (often carved) and San Ildefonso pottery are usually red or black. If a pot is to be painted (e.g. Hopi or Acoma pottery) the potters make their own vegetal or mineral paints; using the blade of a yucca cactus, they paint their designs freehand. The traditional potters fire their pots in a homemade oven built outdoors utilizing slabs of wood and sheep manure for fuel.
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