Saturday, June 6, 2015

Zuni Potter

Welcome to Artisan Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at people who make things with their hands . . . almost a lost art in this day and age. We start with this picture of a Zuni Potter. As I looked at fine Indian Pottery in the past, one thing I never thought about is that Indians did not have pottery wheels. You can see that the way she is making the pot is to role the clay into a long tube, and then build the pot by wrapping the tube around, and then using the fingers to press out the tube shape. It is amazing the precision and fineness they were able to achieve using this technique.


  1. That's exactly the process we used in grade school art class. I made my mother a vase using that coiled-clay method. I won't say I achieved any precision or finesse, but it worked, and the vase was serviceable.

  2. This is a beautiful example of one stage in the process, making clear exactly what you're talking about--the use of the coil process instead of a potter's wheel. I wonder if other tribes in other parts of the country did use potter's wheels? Note also in this picture the highly refined basket on the other side of the potter, with its woven-in designs. What part did it play in the pot-making process, if any? I presume the robe under her is for cushioning, and the fabric on her lap is to keep her warm, though the latter may also be to protect her lap from flying clay. The slab in front of her must have had something to do with the process, too. Does it have anything to do with providing enough water to smooth out the pot as she goes along? If the clay gets too dry, the pot won't hold together. The vessel to her left would seem too far away to provide water for this purpose. Even with all these questions, this is a fascinating beginning to Artisan Week!


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