Lonewolf, Joseph – “Monarchs” Seedpot with 21 Monarch Butterflies (1983)
This is a complex realistic seedpot by Joseph Lonewolf. He began making pottery in 1970-1 and this piece is from 1983. The seedpot is fully polished and fired red. There are 21 realistic monarch butterflies lightly etched into the clay. The butterflies are flowing and encircling the entire piece. What makes it technically so interesting it when you look at the wings. Note the light red coloration on each of the wings. That is achieved by lightly etching away the polished surface, but not doing so deep as to fully remove the thinly polished layer. It is a time-involved process, and on a piece this small and complex with design, one small misstep and the seedpot would be ruined. Joseph used to say that some pieces took him over a year to finish. One can imagine, looking at these butterflies, that in order to get all the wings correctly designed, he would have had to be patient and take his time. Near the base is the yearly symbol for 1983, a rainbow. The seedpot is signed on the bottom, “Joseph Lonewolf”. 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, how to make the pot happen. Then when I work the clay, everything flows. Some people wonder why I keep changing styles, colors, forms. But I can’t just sit there and make pots. Like any artist I must try different things, 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