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About Native American Arts & Crafts
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 80s 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.