Talking with the Clay

Acoma Parrot dish

Acoma Parrot dish

This is a little dish I bought in Gallup on our trip to the American South West last summer. It set me off in a journey of discovery of Native American, and specifically, Pueblo pottery, from the area we had visited (sped by, actually, on Route 66). I found a great book called Talking with the Clay, by Stephen Trimble, who like me had been grabbed by this pottery after his first acquisition of a Pueblo pot. There is a picture on the flyleaf of the book of him cradling his pot:

stephen-trimble-with-acoma-potand before I ever saw that picture, I cradled my pot too:

acoma-parrot-dish-for-wp

This is work that is clearly to be handled, probably for ceremonial reasons – Stephen seems about to tip something out, and I seem to be offering something. The tactile quality is partly down to the fact that these pots were burnished, not glazed, so have a soft and sensual accessibility. So I set about making some, using my sketches and photos from the trip. Mine are not painted, like many of the pueblo pots, but incised (I’m an etcher, after all, and anyway I no longer have the extreme steadiness of hand required for painting these).

nm-monument-valley

Monument in the Valley

Here I had a go at the ‘corrugation’ technique used in my Parrot pot.

Thunderbird Mesa in the light of the Full Moon

Thunderbird Mesa in the light of the Full Moon

Seen as I emerged from our Hogan in Monument Valley for a pee. So glad I did! The huge cliff opposite us was bathed in moonlight and quite surreal. Unforgettable.

nm-snakeweed

Snakeweed

Snakeweed in Monument Valley. The desert floor was covered in this plant with its soft yet persistent yellow and glaucous green leaves (not here: the brown is the shadow from the fierce morning sun).

A Turkey Buzzard inspects us to

A Turkey Buzzard inspects us

At the house in Aztec we had a huge 2 storey high verandah roof, and each morning, after warming their feathers on a rock down the valley, a group of turkey buzzards flew up to say hello. This one nearly came under the roof, and this drawing was based on a still from a movie I grabbed on my phone. How else could I record this beautiful creature? Too quick for the hand/eye/brain!

Aztec Cliff in Moonshine

Aztec Cliff in Moonshine

Another night of moonshine. (And getting up in the night – I recommend it!) The night before the full moon, and I was looking out for the white foxes that come out at night here, and can sometimes be seen running along the arroyo (dry river bank, the white strip in the middle). Well camouflaged by the white rock in the moonlight, I think.

So there are my pots. Nowhere near the extreme skill and beauty of the Pueblo pots, but I’ve so enjoyed making them. There are more on the way. I’ll post.

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1 comment
  1. Catherine Watson said:

    thank you for sharing these images of your pots with me, Bron … so very lovely. There is a beautiful book on the work of the pueblo potter, Martina Martinez. Really very inspiring! but to have been to the places yourself for real. In the true sense, wonderful! Go well, love Ann

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