Borts-Medlock, Autumn – “Thunderbirds” Tall Red and Tan Jar (1997)
Autumn Borts-Medlock is known for her often fancifully carved pottery. This is a very large jar that is fully carved. The top has clouds and rain designs. Below are four thunderbirds, each in a different position. They are surrounded by clouds, rain, and lightning designs. Each bird is polished red and they are incised with designs on each head, wing, and tail. The top of the jar and the lightning designs are polished tan. Did you know that tan is the most difficult polishing and firing technique in Santa Clara pottery? The tan has no slip applied, but just water used to polish the surface of the clay. The potter has to be careful not to polish too hard or it is streaky but if not polished well enough, it doesn’t achieve a shine. When it is fired, the artist must also take care so that it isn’t too smoky or the tan will have a black-gray coloration. However, for all the complexity of the color, it is one of the most visually striking and a beautiful complement to the red polished areas. The jar is signed on the bottom, “Autumn Borts”. It was made in 1997. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.