Lonewolf, Joseph – Black Seedpot with Eight Mimbres Rabbits (1985)
Beginning in the early 1970s, Joseph Lonewolf revolutionized the world of Santa Clara pottery by incorporating his sgraffito (lightly etching the surface of the clay) and incised (more deeply cut into the clay) designs. This piece is from 1985. It is one of his few black pieces. The entire surface is fully stone polished. The top half has eight Mimbres-inspired rabbits as the design. Each rabbit is tightly etched into the clay and they are each highlighted with light green, dark green, white, or red clay slips. The clays were applied to the designs before the piece was fired. Joseph often used rabbits for his imagery, as they are often considered to be symbolic of a “blessing for travelers”. Joseph always made fewer black pieces than red pieces. The piece is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Joseph Lonewolf” and the date of 1985. It also has the yearly symbol of a star. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.
“It gives me a funny feeling when people tell me I’ve done something brand new and different. I’ve just figured out all over again what potters did centuries ago. But it is NOT new as people like to say it is. Such colors were achieved in pre-history times by my ancestors. I regard the Mimbres as my ancestors. Though I refine their designs, each design must have meaning for me. In my dreams, I see how to use the design, and how to make the pot happen. Then when I work with the clay, everything flows. Some people wonder why I keep changing styles, colors, and forms. But I can’t just sit there and make pots. Like any artist, I must try different things, and different techniques. I must meet the challenge with my hands. The patterns and the methods I see in my mind during my dreams.”
—Joseph Lonewolf, Spoken Through Clay