Modern Hopi potters make their pottery in the traditional manner.
The clay is hand dug on the Hopi mesas and hand processed.
The pots are carefully hand constructed using the coil and scrape
techniques their ancestors taught them.
The paints used are from naturally occurring materials.
For example, black paint is made by boiling Beeweed
for a long time until it becomes very dark and thick.
It is then dried into little cakes which are
wrapped in corn husk until ready for use.
The intricate and beautiful designs are painted free hand using a yucca leaf brush. The pots are then fired in the open air out on the mesa using sheep dung and cedar as a heat source.
Prehistoric potters did not have domestic animals to provide dung, but modern potters prefer it for its rapid, even heat.
When most people look at a piece of pottery the first thing that they wonder about are the symbols and the stories behind these symbols. There are some symbols of Hopi pottery that have stories behind them and others that are of a more elemental nature. Some of the symbols we think of as symbols, are really the potters own design. Symbols and designs are not the same thing. Significance and design have been known to change over time and Hopi potters, mostly women, have been instrumental in both preserving and developing traditional symbols and innovating designs in response to changes in and challenges to their culture.
Navajo Hand Etched Pottery
Native American etched Navajo Indian pottery is a very special handmade pottery created in the famous four corners area of the Navajo Nation.
Real clay pottery crafted in the United States is becoming harder to find and Native American etched pottery is one of the premier forms that artists are using to express their creativity.
Hand etching may be simple or intricate but it is authentic American Indian pottery that is perfect for both collectors as well as southwest home decorating.
Navajo Hand Etched
Horse Hair Pottery
The fine dark lines in this pottery are created using horsehair. This is done by throwing horse hair onto the pottery when it reaches about 1600 degrees during firing. The horsehair burns when it touches the hot pottery leaving a carbon stain cooked into it, making a beautiful and unique one of a kind pattern on each piece. Navajo horsehair pottery has become extremely popular with southwestern art enthusiasts because of the extraordinary variations produced by hair taken from the mane or tail of a horse and added onto the pottery’s surface while in the firing process.
Frequently utilized to honor the actual delivery of a foal, as well as the existence of an honored horse, this unique Indian pottery is created much as the name signifies, although it is a somewhat complex as well as at times a dangerous method.
The process for making horsehair pottery is an ancient process, that has been updated for modern kilns, ceramics and pottery.
The Wedding Vase is an ancient vessel still used in traditional Native
American wedding ceremonies.
One spout of the vessel represents the husband; the other, the wife.
The looped handle represents the unity achieved with marriage.
The space created within the loop represents the couples’ own circle of life.
The wedding vase is a treasured and a sacred tradition among many
Native American Indian tribes, particularly the Navajo and Pueblo peoples.
These vases are not only symbolic in the ceremony performed just prior to
the wedding itself, but also in the shape and construction of the vessel
The vessel itself is quite beautiful, and its design is an integral part of
its meaning.The two spouts represent the couple; one the bride,
the other the groom.The rounded base and shared reservoir of the
vase represent the couple’snow-shared lives.
The looped handle also represents this unity in a more visible
and apparent way, much like a wedding band is a visible reminder of the deeper,
spiritual connection shared by a husband and wife.The handle creates a circle
in the center of the vase that represents the circle of life.
Southwestern Style Raku Pottery
Raku dates right back to the early 1550s as mentioned specifically for the Zen Buddhist Masters in their ceremonial tea ware. It's been well documented that this was the favored method of ceramics for the Zen Buddhist masters as raku ware touches on many of the things that Zen philosophy embodies, most notably its simplicity and naturalness. Raku firing really is one of the most natural techniques that you can encounter in pottery.
In raku firing all of nature's elements are used,
earth, fire, air and water.
The earth is used to make the pot,
then it's put into a reduction chamber kiln,
then plunged into water.
The cold water halts the firing process.
A lovely fact about raku is that its name literally
translates as 'happiness in the accident'.
This selection of Raku has a southwestern
style and also features the Native American wedding vase.