Medicine Flower, Grace – Polychrome Jar with Butterflies (2004)
Grace Medicine Flower began her career making miniature pottery with incised designs. This jar is from 2004 and is one of her amazing polychrome pieces. The distinctive aspect of her polychrome pottery is that she utilized all possible Pueblo techniques: carving, incising, sgraffito. They also incorporate mica, polished and matte clay surfaces. In terms of the carving, there are multiple levels to the carving. Note how the butterflies on one side are carved to appear to be above the green plant designs behind them! As the jar is turned there are cloud, lightning and prayer feather designs. They are slipped in various colors or stone polished. Note the depth of the carving on the jar! Grace also slipped the inside with red clay and created an additional design near the base of the bowl. The rim of the jar is also carved to create additional angles to give the jar a more modern appearance. Grace said she was always trying to change the rim shape on her pottery and sometimes they would work and sometimes they would break when she carved when the clay was too dry. Grace said of this style of her work:
“I don’t know how I even started this. This was a new idea to start carving the rim and into the bowl. I was thinking, what would be so different to change her in a way that would be unique. I started cutting areas out, and the more I started the more ideas that came. Have patience, enjoy what you are doing, and really, really talk to the Clay Lady. Like my dad said, prayers and patience. ” Grace Medicine Flower, Spoken Through Clay
All the various colors are from natural clay slips. The technical difficulty in carving this piece makes it a bit surprising that it didn’t crack in drying or firing. The jar is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Grace Medicine Flower”. While Grace is no longer making pottery, this is certainly a reflection of the creativity and originality of her work!
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