This is a complex new jar by Steve Lucas. He is one of the leading Hopi-Tewa potters working today. Each piece is coil built, stone polished, painted with native clay slips and bee-weed (black) and traditionally fired. Steve has won “Best of Show” at Santa Fe Indian Market and his work remains some of the most refined and creative. This jar is painted with a series of interlocking birds which are inspired in style by the work of his ancestor, Nampeyo of Hano. Each bird is painted with, red and brown clay slips, each of which is polished! It takes more time to polish the slips after they are painted, but the result is also more dynamic as they reflect the light. The area below the shoulder is also fully painted with a star pattern. The base of the bowl is polished a deep red. It is this deep red clay slip with just a bit of mica, for which Steve is famous. He said of the red:
“When I first learned to make pottery, the red slip painted in the designs was difficult to work with. It wouldn’t take heat very well and would scorch and turn black. The red was also difficult to polish. My aunt Dextra had a deep red color clay slip, and I decided to experiment with it. I took some of our base clay and added the red to it and it polished very well. I then decided to put some mica in there to get that sparkle. That’s where the new red came from, and Dextra liked how it turned out. I introduced them to that. It was nice that for my teacher, Dextra, I was able to share and teach her something.” Steve Lucas, Spoken Through Clay
The numerous colors and the precision of the painting is striking. The jar was traditionally fired which created the blushes on the surface. It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “S. Lucas” and a mudhead (koyemsi) and an ear of corn (corn clan). Spectacular!
Steve Lucas is a great-great-grandson of Nampeyo of Hano. His grandmother was Rachel Nampeyo and his great-grandmother was Annie Healing. While Steve grew up around potter he primarily learned the art from his aunt, Dextra Quotskuyva Nampeyo. His pottery is amazingly thin-walled, and each piece has a dynamic use of form and design. The pottery is coil built, stone polished, painted and traditionally fired. Steve uses not only traditional designs but often gives his own creative "spin" to the ancient imagery. His pottery is signed with his name and the Mudhead symbol, or Koyemsi. This is reflective of his Hopi-Tewa clan. Steve has won numerous awards for his pottery, including "Best of Show" at Santa Fe Indian Market. We are pleased to carry his works at both our Scottsdale and Santa Fe locations. Steve is featured artist in the recent book by our gallery owner Charles S. King, 'Spoken Through Clay".