Lucy Lewis is one of the great Matriarch potters of the past century. She learned to make pottery independently and revived the pottery-making process at Acoma Pueblo. Her children, Dolores, Emma, Carmel, and Andrew, learned to make pottery from their mother. Lucy’s pottery is featured worldwide in numerous books, videos, and museum collections. “Lucy M. Lewis” by Susan Peterson is the most authoritative work on her pottery.
Lucy’s pottery is made from a gray clay body and formed by hand using coils. After the pot is shaped and dried, a white slip is applied. Without the clay slip, the mineral paints would run off the pot. Next, the design uses a brush from yucca, which holds more color and makes more delicate lines than regular brushes bought at an art supply store. Finally, a few finished pieces are carefully fired on a day when the weather is suitable for a firing outdoors.
Her pottery features innovative designs and traditional Pueblo forms. Her designs are influenced by the color of the sky, animals, and nature, along with her Native American culture. Lewis specialized in small pots that were usually six to twelve inches tall. Lewis’ tribe, the Acoma, considered the clay she used for her pottery sacred. Creating a single pot could take as long as two to three weeks. In 1983, Lucy Lewis was given the New Mexico Governor’s Award for outstanding personal contribution to the art of the state. In 1977, she was invited to the White House. Her work is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.