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About Native American Arts & Crafts

Acoma Pottery


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                                  William & Sandra Garcia                                    Stella Shutiva (Deceased)
The people of the Acoma Pueblo, possibly the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States, has a tradition of producing high-quality pottery. Visitors to the Pueblo will invariably find a high degree of activity during the tourist season and on most weekends. Many potters display their individual wares at Sky City while living in surrounding communities.
The creation of traditional ( coiled pottery as opposed to greenware or cast) Acoma pottery requires a high degree of technical expertise. The pottery is thin-walled and yet strong. This high degree of quality is enticing to collectors of southwestern pottery.
Prior to firing and decorating Acoma pottery it is painted with a kaolin clay slip. Acoma pottery can be plain with a smooth white slip, white with indentations (thumbnailing), white on black, or black on white. One of the most common forms the pottery takes is polychromes of black, orange, and brown on white. Designs may extend from deer, flowers, and birds to fine-lined geometric patterns. The Mimbres and Hohokam styles have also been incorporated into Acoma pottery at times. The Acoma potters also incorporate figurative pottery such as owls, turtles and etc. as part of their artistic repertoire.
One item of concern to collectors and buyers in general of Acoma pottery is its propensity to pit. Small pits may result in the slipped surface of the pot. The pitting, which reveals itself as very small pits or holes in the pottery surface, is usually the result of impure clay or more specifically grains of sand which were allowed to remain in the kaolin slip. This presents a particular problem to the buyer as the pits may not occur for some weeks later.
Beginning in the mid to late 80’s some Acoma potters began to resort to the use of commercial greenware and mold to make their pottery. This was not due to deception but rather to meet an ever increasing demand or perhaps due to the failure to learn traditional techniques. The forms of greenware which are often used is that of animals or very large jars, ollas, and vases. This non traditional pottery has been accepted and sold ever since by well known and respected dealers.
Given the fact that non traditional Acoma pottery has become an accepted fact in the marketplace, you need to be aware and to ask before purchasing. This pottery while beautiful and expressive is not as valuable as a traditional pot. One simple way of telling if a pot is traditional or greenware is to feel its interior. If the interior is very smooth one can reasonably assume that it is of commercial origin.
Acoma potters who have received notoriety include Stella Shutiva, Lucy Lewis, Mary Chino, Francis Torivio, Dorothy Torivio, Wilfred Garcia, Wanda Aragon, Rose Chino Garcia, Barbara Cherno,Carolyn Concho, Rebecca Lewis, and Lolita Concho. This list is not the most current nor is it inclusive of all potters who should be mentioned.


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06/29/03 06:59:06 PM