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Navajo Pottery

Each piece of our Navajo Pottery (Dine) is hand coil built, stone polished and traditionally fired outdoors. The color variations on the surface of the pieces are a result of the firing process showing fire and smoke coloration.  This process adds a specific personality, dimension, and beauty to each work.  For many of the pieces of pottery, the surface is covered with pine pitch, a pine sap derivative, at the end of the firing to give a deep color and sheen.  This pitch pottery treatment was a traditional method for sealing the pottery to hold water or keep the pottery from deterioration. Many traditional Navajo potters continue this process today using a variety of material in the completion of the bowl.   We see very defined shapes, reflecting the historical style of traditional bowls, but we also see asymmetry in the aspect of design shape giving a fluid nature to the fire patterns.

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Begay, Jr., Harrison – Jar with Heartline Bears

Harrison Begay, Jr. has won numerous awards over the years for his deep carved pottery.  This tall jar is a classic shape with a round body and a slightly turned out neck.  The rim of the jar is fully polished.  Around the side of the jar it is fully carved.  Harrison says that he tries to carve his pieces so that the imagery looks to be in motion.  This jar has two heartline bears carved into the clay. The heartline represents the strength of the animal.  As the jar clouds and water designs.  The carving is deep and the polishing is nearly glassy. The contrast of the matte and polished surfaces is perfection!  Note as well the style of carving, which has a beveled appearance to the angle of the cuts into the clay. This is a very distinctive style of carving for his pottery.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 575.00
Manymules, Samuel  – Large Water Jar with Billowing Ribs

This is a striking combination of shape and firing by Samuel Manymules.  The jar is coil built and slipped with a red clay and then traditionally fired.  The jar has rounded ribs which billow up from the base and get larger as they reach the neck.  Each rib is pushed out from the inside of the jar as the piece is made.  The round ribs are in contrast to the sharp ridge before the neck and rim, which is slightly turned out.  The jar is polished and it is traditionally fired outdoors.  The coloration, which ranges from red to black to tan in areas.  The color changes as the jar is turned and the strong black areas seem to perfectly enhance the shape of the ribs.  After the firing the jar is the covered with pine pitch in the traditional way expected of Navajo pottery.  It is extraordinary vessels like this which keep Samuel among the top Navajo potters working today.

$ 2,300.00
Manymules, Samuel  – Tan Melon Jar with Fire Clouds

This is a very traditional melon jar by Samuel Manymules.  The jar is coil built and stone polished and then traditionally fired. The coloration of the surface of the jar is the natural color of the clay.  The ribs on this jar swirl around the from the base to the neck and are rounded.  The lip is thin and slightly turned out.  The flow of the ribs without a stopping point at the neck creates elegance.  The traditional firing created the blushes which are deep black and encompass areas from the rim to the base of the jar.  After the firing the jar is the covered with pine pitch in the traditional way expected of Navajo pottery.  It is extraordinary vessels like this which keep Samuel among the top Navajo potters working today.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 800.00
Begay, Jr., Harrison – Jar with Hummingbirds and Flowers

Harrison Begay, Jr. has won numerous awards over the years for his deep carved pottery.  This jar has a taller shape with a turned out rim, which is fully polished. The entire side of the jar is very deeply carved with hummingbird and flower motifs. The hummingbirds are very highly polished and Harrison has used matte areas to accentuate the complex designs.  Harrison says that he tries to carve his pieces so that the imagery looks to be in motion.  Note as well the style of carving, which has a beveled appearance to the angle of the cuts into the clay. This is a very distinctive style of carving for his pottery.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 1,100.00
Begay, Jr., Harrison – Three Handle Jar with Turtle & Dragonfly

Harrison Begay, Jr. has won numerous awards over the years for his deep carved pottery.  This jar is inspired by a canteen shape, but here Harrison has made three handles. They are each highly polished, which is amazing that they didn’t break in polishing or firing!  The design has a turtle on one side and then a dragonfly and stars on the other.  The highly polished surfaces are a striking contrast to the matte areas.  As the design flows around the surface of the jar, Harrison contrasts angular and circular designs.  Harrison says that he tries to carve his pieces so that the imagery looks to be in motion.  Note as well the style of carving, which has a beveled appearance to the angle of the cuts into the clay. This is a very distinctive style of carving for his pottery.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 1,200.00
Begay, Jr., Harrison – Jar with Heartline Bear and Sun

Harrison Begay, Jr. has won numerous awards over the years for his deep carved pottery.  This jar is a classic shape with a round body and a slightly turned out neck.  The rim of the jar is fully polished.  Around the side of the jar it is fully carved.  Harrison says that he tries to carve his pieces so that the imagery looks to be in motion.  This jar has a heartline bear carved into the clay. The heartline represents the strength of the animal.  As the jar is turned there is a sun and rain pattern along with a wind design.  The carving is deep and the polishing is nearly glassy. The contrast of the matte and polished surfaces is perfection!  Note as well the style of carving, which has a beveled appearance to the angle of the cuts into the clay. This is a very distinctive style of carving for his pottery.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 575.00
Cling, Alice – Jar with Black Stripes

Alice Cling was one of the innovative Navajo potters who in the 1980-90’s turned Navajo pottery from a folk art to a fine art. This jar is a tall shape and she has painted a series of black stripes around the body of the piece. The stripes give the jar a unique appearance and they visually mesh with the fired clouds from the traditional firing.  The jar is outdoor fired and ranges in color from deep red to black. The piece was covered in pine-pitch after the firing, a continuation of the traditional Navajo pottery when pitch was used to make the pottery water proof. Alice has won numerous awards for her pottery and been featured in books such as “Legacy of Generations.”  It is signed on the bottom.

$ 200.00
Crank, Susie – Square Long Neck Water Jar

Susie Crank is a daughter of Rose Williams and a sister of Alice Cling.  This is one of her long neck jars and it is polished red and traditionally fired. The coloration from the firing is stunning with variations from black to deep red.  The square neck works well to show off the variations in the color.  The jar was covered in pine-pitch after the firing, a continuation of the traditional Navajo pottery when pitch was used to make the pottery water proof.  Today, the pine pitch seals the vessel and gives it the shine.  It is signed on the bottom.

$ 300.00
Johnson, Melissa – Jar with Carved Melon Swirl

Melissa Johnson (b. 1977) was born in Kayenta, AZ  which is located in northern Arizona on the Navajo Reservation.  She is a member of the Tobacco People Clan of the Navajo Tribe.  This jar is an elegant shape with a narrow base and elongated neck.  The body of the piece is carved with a sharp edge melon swirl which extends from the base to the neck.  The jar was outdoor fired and ranges in color from deep red to black. The piece was covered in pine-pitch after the firing, a continuation of the traditional Navajo pottery when pitch was used to make the pottery water proof.  It is signed on the bottom.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 175.00
Manymules, Samuel  – Low Shoulder Jar with Sharp Ribs

This is a classic water jar by Samuel Manymules.  It is coil built and slipped with a red clay and then traditionally fired.  The jar neck which is fully polished.  The lower section has melon ribs which are pushed out into the clay.  The ribs are wide and sharp, narrowing down from the shoulder to the base.  There is an indented ridge where the neck ends and the melon ribs begin.  The entire jar is fully polished and traditionally fired to create the coloration.  It is how Samuel places the jar in the firing and the smoke which determine how the colors will range from black to red.  The color changes as the jar is turned.  After the firing the jar is the covered with pine pitch in the traditional way expected of Navajo pottery.  It is extraordinary vessels like this which keep Samuel among the top Navajo potters working today.

$ 975.00
Williams, Rose & Susie Crank – Very Large Jar with Mountain Design Rim

Rose Williams (1915-2015) wass one of the great matriarchs of Navajo pottery.  Shew as from the Shonto/Cow Springs area of the Navajo Reservation.  Rose was an adult when she learned to make pottery, but continued doing so for over three decades.  Her children, Alice Cling, Sue Ann Williams, and Susie Williams Crank, and her daughter-in-law, Lorraine Williams, are all recognized potters.  The Lók’aa’dine’é Clan (Reed People) in the Shonto/Cow Springs area has long been recognized for its pottery making, and many of the present-day potters or their spouses—Silas Claw, Faye Tso, Rose Williams, and Alice Cling—are members of this clan.  This is an exceptionally large piece of her pottery in collaboration with her daughter, Susie Willams Crank.  It is fully polished and traditionally fired.  The shape is based on traditional Navajo pottery with the low shoulder.  Around the rim is a raised relief mountain design. The jar is traditionally fired and afterwords covered in pine pitch.  This was a traditional method historically to make the pottery water-proof. Today, potters continue this process as a testament to the past. The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay by both potters.

$ 1,750.00
Begay, Daniel – Large Jar with Yei Figures & Stars

This is an exceptional large jar by Daniel Begay. He learned to make pottery from his father, Harrison Begay, Jr..  Each piece is coil built, carved, stone polished and traditionally fired.  Daniel has created a distinctive style of carving, similar to that of his father, yet with more angular and graphic designs. This jar is carved with stylized Yei figures on two sides.  The figures are carved in a spiral with the mask and feather and blanket.  Separating each of the figures are large and small star patterns.  There is a striking contrast between the polished and matte surfaces, which adds to the sophistication of the imagery. Note how Daniel’s designs combine both thin and thicker lines to enhance the imagery.  The style of carving has a beveled appearance to the angle of the cuts into the clay.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 1,600.00
Begay, Daniel – Jar with Turtles

Daniel Begay learned to make pottery from his father, Harrison Begay, Jr..  Each piece is coil built, carved, stone polished and traditionally fired.  Daniel has created a distinctive style of carving, similar to that of his father, yet with more angular and graphic designs. This jar is carved with two turtles as the design.  The back of each turtle has a different design.  Separating the two turtles are bands of cloud and water designs.  Note how Daniel’s designs combine both thin and thicker lines to enhance the imagery.  The style of carving has a beveled appearance to the angle of the cuts into the clay.  The jar is very highly polished, so that there is a strong visual distinction between the matte and polished surface.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 950.00
Manymules, Samuel  – Small Water Jar with Wide Ribs

This is a distinctive shape by Samuel Manymules.  It is coil built and slipped with a red clay and then traditionally fired.  The jar neck which is fully polished.  The lower section has melon ribs which are pushed out into the clay.  The ribs are wide and sharp.  The entire jar is fully polished and traditionally fired to create the coloration.  It is how Samuel places the jar in the firing and the smoke which determine how the colors will range from black to red.  The color changes as the jar is turned.  After the firing the jar is the covered with pine pitch in the traditional way expected of Navajo pottery.  It is extraordinary vessels like this which keep Samuel among the top Navajo potters working today.

$ 700.00
Sale!
Begaye, Nathan – Melon jar with Birds (1985)

Nathan Begaye was a unique innovator among Pueblo and Navajo potters.  His ethnic connection to both Hopi and Navajo let his work flow between the two distinctive styles and yet find their own unique space.  His work used traditional designs, forms and techniques, yet somehow appeared very modern.  This is an exceptional jar by Nathan Begaye  The shape has a low shoulder and a slightly turned out neck. The shoulder has melon ribs pushed out in the clay.  Below the shoulder is very detailed painted Hopi style birds.  Check out the very intricate checkerboard patterns.  I remember watching Nathan create those patterns and work with the various colors of clay, all of which are natural.  It was fascinating how he knew which ones he could polish and which ones to leave matte. The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.  It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

 

$ 1,500.00 $ 1,200.00
Sale!
King, Charles S., “Spoken Through Clay”

Spoken Through Clay

A NEW  RELEASE SPECIAL:  $95.00, including shipping (US)! Check out the new review in the Denver Post!

 Just a few things which make this book unique!
*   The size!  The book is 11.75″ x 14.25″ and weights over 8 pounds!
*  The photography of the pottery is stunning, emphasizing the individual pieces.
*  Each caption is the artist discussing the individual piece on the page.
*  The artist “biographies” are from interviews with the artists and they discuss their art, culture, lives and history.
*  Organization: The book is not organized by pueblo or family, but entails new ways to think about the future of Native pottery.
*  Printing in Italy gives the book very high quality color and paper.
* The photos of the living artists were taken by Will Wilson using a tin-type process. He was a recipient of the 2107 New Mexico Governor’s Award for the Arts in photography!
*  The book features work by more than 30 contemporary potters and more than a dozen important historic potters.
*  There are essays by myself, Peter Held and Eric Dobkin.  They add to the overall understanding of the project a historic perspective.

_____________________________________________

August 18, Pasatiempo Review

“Charles S. King’s new book, Spoken Through Clay: Native Pottery in the Southwest, The Eric S. Dobkin Collection, is spectacularly heavy —which is a problem from a practical standpoint, because once you open it, you won’t want to put it down. With dreamy tintype artist portraits by Diné photographer Will Wilson, dazzlingly crisp images from Addison Doty, and intimate first-person essays written by dozens of artists, the book is a visually delicious, intellectually consuming foray into historic and contemporary Southwestern pottery. In short, prepare to swoon.

If you’re thinking of this as a coffee-table book, you’ll need to imagine a decently sized coffee table. The book is more than a foot tall and, when opened, two feet wide, but its outsize appearance belies the often delicate beauty of its contents: hundreds of individual pieces of pottery from Eric S. Dobkin’s exquisitely curated collection — arguably the largest and most important of its kind. Gallery owner, author, and Pueblo pottery expert King designed Spoken Through Clay to be approachable for those unfamiliar with Native American pottery. “In the age of social media, I wanted to make the book both visually striking and personal,” King said. The book opens with essays by King, Dobkin, and curator Peter Held, who calls clay “the most archival of materials … seductive, sensuous, responsive, geologic, and malleable.”

“I wanted the end result of the book to be that the reader would connect with the artists in a personal way, beyond just the art, and understand the time it takes to become an artist, to achieve success,” King said. Sprawling yet intimate, Spoken Through Clay introduces its readers not just to the beauty of Southwestern pottery but also to the fascinating stories of the people who make it.Iris McLister, Pasatiempo

____________________________________

“It’s one of the things that makes us who we are. It’s what holds our family together. We are a family of potters. It’s our identity. People don’t realize how much work goes into it just processing the clay and making it. You have to do it with your heart.”—Linda Tafoya-Sanchez

 

FEATURED ARTISTS Grace Medicine Flower • Dextra Quotskuyva • Autumn Borts-Medlock • Jody Naranjo • Harrison Begay Jr. • Jordan Roller • Sara Fina Tafoya • Lonnie Vigil • Margaret Tafoya • Steve Lucas • LuAnn Tafoya • Loren Ami • Toni Roller • Popovi Da • Linda Tafoya-Sanchez • Mark Tahbo • James Ebelacker• Yvonne Lucas • Jeff Roller • Lisa Holt • Harlan Reano • Nampeyo • Jacquie Stevens • Nathan Youngblood • Jacob Koopee Jr. • Jennifer Moquino • Christopher Youngblood • Maria Martinez • Tony Da • Tammy Garcia • Virgil Ortiz • Joseph Lonewolf • Johnathan Naranjo • Nancy Youngblood • Les Namingha • Russell Sanchez • Christine McHorse • Richard Zane Smith • Rondina Huma • Susan Folwell • Dominique Toya • Jody Folwell

Spoken Through Clay features the pottery of iconic Native American artists from historic potters Nampeyo and Maria Martinez, to contemporary potters Tammy Garcia, Virgil Ortiz, and many others, are featured in a new book published by the Museum of New Mexico Press. Spoken Through Clay: Native Pottery of the Southwest showcases nearly three hundred pottery vessels from the acclaimed Eric S. Dobkin Collection, covering a wide range of mostly Pueblo artists from the Southwest.

“The physical scale of the vessels combined with the depth of the contemporary collection [is] breathtaking,” says author Charles S. King. The book is part of a “transitional process of looking to the clay, the vessel, and the potter’s voice and allowing the pieces to stand on the merit of their artistic integrity.”

The book includes portraits and voices of renowned potters speaking about their artistry and technique, families, culture, and traditions. Many of the artists are connected by Pueblos, generations, or family members. Dynamic color photography captures the depth and dimension of the pieces, while the artists provide an illuminating perspective through narrative captions. Artists, academics, collectors, family members, and gallerists add additional insight about the lives, historical context, and importance of these potters and their work.

SPOKEN THROUGH CLAY Native Pottery of the Southwest The Eric S. Dobkin Collection
By Charles S. King Essay by Peter Held

Artist portraits by Will Wilson
ISBN: 978-0-89013-624-9

352 pages, 320 color plates, 40 artist portraits

Publication Date: August 01, 2017
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Charles S. King is the author of Born of Fire: The Life and Pottery of Margaret Tafoya, The Life and Art of Tony Da, Virgil Ortiz: Revolt 1680/2180, and numerous articles on Pueblo pottery. He has served on boards of art associations, judged pottery at prestigious events, and lectures about the art form. His business King Galleries represents many of today’s leading Native potters and important historic works in clay. Charles lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

$ 125.00 $ 95.00
Manymules, Samuel  – Long Neck Water Jar with Melon Rib Shoulder

This a very traditional style water jar shape by Samuel Manymules.  It is coil built and slipped with a red clay and then traditionally fired.  The jar has a long neck and a slightly turned out rim.  On the shoulder there is a “double rainbow” band, which is pushed out in the clay. The low shoulder of the jar is a series of sixteen sharp, angular melon ribs.  Each rib is pushed out in the clay, which adds to the difficultly of its creation.  The color is red and brown with blushes of black around the surface. The color is created by the traditional outdoor firing.  After the firing the jar is the covered with pine pitch in the traditional way expected of Navajo pottery.  It is extraordinary vessels like this which keep Samuel among the top Navajo potters working today.

$ 2,300.00
Cling, Alice – Lightning Rim Jar with Green Rim

This jar by Alice Cling has a lightning carved shape to the rim.  The remainder of the jar is highly polished red but note that she has added a band of green clay slip around the rim of the jar.  It creates a striking visual contrast after the firing.  The jar is traditionally fired and ranges in color from deep red to black. The piece was covered in pine-pitch after the firing, a continuation of the traditional Navajo pottery when pitch was used to make the pottery water proof. Alice has won numerous awards for her pottery and been featured in books such as “Legacy of Generations.”

$ 225.00
McHorse, Christine -Large Gourd Jar with Lightning Rim

This jar is certainly one of those shapes for which Christine McHorse has become renown. It is an organic shaped gourd jar made from micaceous clay.  The rim of the jar has been carved into a lightning pattern and the edge of the rim is raised with a single coil.  The jar has been traditionally fired to create the fire clouds and blushes on the surface. The coloration which is coppery in color, shows all the variations from the flame.  After the firing it has been covered in pine pitch, much as traditional Navajo pottery has been made for the last century.   The jar is perfectly smooth and thin walled.  It is a classic of her pottery, in form and style.  There is always such a delicate nature to her pottery!  There is a simplicity to the jar and yet it is certainly striking among her traditional style.  Today she is creating more sculptural works with her pottery currently in the “Dark Light” exhibit which is travelling nationally.  This jar is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  It is signed on the bottom.

$ 3,600.00
Sale!
Sahmie, Ida — “Navajo Rug” Design Jar

This jar is a new design by Ida Shamie.  Her work utilized traditional Navajo imagery for her patterns.  The jar has four rug patterns painted on the shoulder using bee-weed (a plant) to create the black.  The neck of the jar is polished with a red clay slip.  Separating the rug designs are etched mesa patterns.  The jar has been traditionally fired.  Ida is a daughter-in-law of Priscilla Nampeyo.  She has won numerous awards for her pottery at events such as Santa Fe Indian Market.  She is the only Navajo potter creating this unique style of ethnographic pottery.

$ 750.00 $ 425.00
Cling, Alice – Long Neck Jar

This jar by Alice Cling has a high, round shoulder and a slight neck.  The shape is inspired by the traditional Navajo “tus”, which was a water jar with a narrow base that would be stood in the ground.  Here, Alice has flattened the bottom but kept the stylized form. The entire jar is highly polished red. It is then outdoor fired and the stunning variation in the color are from the smoke and fire.   The piece was covered in pine-pitch after the firing, a continuation of the traditional Navajo pottery when pitch was used to make the pottery water proof. Alice has won numerous awards for her pottery and been featured in books such as “Legacy of Generations.”

$ 125.00
McHorse, Joel — “Hindsight” Bowl with Lid

This bowl is made of micaceous clay and reduction fired.  The lid fits perfectly and it is surmounted by silver finial which Joel has made.  Amazingly, he is as much a jeweler as a potter and an architect!  This bowl is called, “Hindsight” and the shape of the silver piece captures the name perfectly!  The silver piece is made from the lost wax method in which he carves out the shape in wax and then casts it in silver.  It is attached using padded screws so that it will not damage the clay.  The shape and motion of the silver work creates a very organic appearance in combination with the simplicity and sparkle of the black fired micaceous clay.  Joel’s pottery can be found in museums such as the IAIA Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts/Peabody Essex and the Heard Museum.  His work is unique and timely and definitely a potter to watch!

$ 3,200.00
McHorse, Joel — “Symphony” Mica Bowl w/ Silver Lid

This bowl is made of micaceous clay and reduction fired.  The lid fits perfectly and it is surmounted by silver finial which Joel has made.  Amazingly, he is as much a jeweler as a potter and an architect!  This bowl is called, “Symphony” and the finial for the lid is silver and made from the lost wax method.  The silver is attached to the lid using padded screws so that it will not damage the clay.  The shape and motion of the silver work creates a dynamic sense of motion especially in combination with the simplicity and sparkle of the black fired micaceous clay.  Joel’s pottery can be found in museums such as the IAIA Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts/Peabody Essex and the Heard Museum.  His work is unique and timely and definitely a potter to watch!

$ 8,800.00
McHorse, Joel — “Deconstruction” Mica Bowl w/ Silver Lid

This bowl by Joel McHorse is made of micaceous clay and reduction fired.  The lid fits perfectly and it is surmounted by silver finial which Joel has made.  Amazingly, he is as much a jeweler as a potter and an architect!  This bowl is called, “Deconstruction” and the finial for the lid is silver and made from the lost wax method.  The silver is attached to the lid using padded screws so that it will not damage the clay.  The lid on this piece is oxidized sterling silver with a textured feel.  The shape brings to mind traditional handles on lidded clay pots.  Joel’s pottery can be found in museums such as the IAIA Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts/Peabody Essex and the Heard Museum.  His work is unique and timely and definitely a potter to watch!

$ 3,800.00
McHorse, Joel — “Silver Flower” Lidded Jar

Joel learned to make pottery from his mother, Christine McHorse.  His early work was a combination of traditional Navajo shapes and incised designs along this his own distinctive silver work that he used an finials on the lids. This is a classic jar with a perfectly fit lid made from micaceous clay and reduction fired.  The silver pieces for the lid are created using the lost wax method of casting. There are three vertical infinity symbols which are soldered together to create the flower design.  It is a brilliant use of various designs to create a new form!  The petal/flower motif as well works in balance with the shape of the jar  and the coloration from the firing.  There is an architectural appearance to them and a somewhat art-deco feel in their connection to the vessel itself.  Not surprisingly Joel is as much an architect as a potter.  He took nearly a decade away from the clay to become an architect.  Joel said of his early work, “The successes of form and composition that I see in my pottery I try to utilized in my architecture.”  The opposite could be said today as the success of his architectural career have created a new direction in his work in the clay and especially in silver.

$ 3,600.00
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