Artist Media Series
This is a spectacular water jar by Russell Sanchez. It is a dynamic blend of classic San Ildefonso shapes and designs with a distinctive modernist touch. Russell continues to be one of the true innovators in Pueblo pottery. Each piece is perfectly coil-built, stone polished, and etched. The shape is a classic water jar with a wide shoulder and an elongated neck. The jar is highly polished and etched before it was fired. The inside of the neck is carved and fully polished, creating his “waterfall rim”. The edge of the rim is rounded and slipped with mica. The neck of the jar has gourd intentions. The bottom of the jar also has gourd indentions. The jar has 24 inset hematite stones on the top of the rim. There is also an inlaid band of hematite hei-shi beads. There are additional inset bands of hematite hei-shi beads encircling the jar. The beads encompass a checkerboard corn pattern. In the checkerboard areas, there are inset coral and turquoise stones. Coral represents the Winter Clan and turquoise the Summer Clan. There are a total of 104 inset stones on the jar! The shoulder of the jar has an early style avanyu design. The last photo before the firing shows this design in early San Ildefonso pottery. The jar was fired to a gunmetal silvery coloration. It is exceptional! The photos are ones that I took of the piece before firing. It shows the entire process from putting it into the fire, then the fire, covering it with manure to turn it black, and finally sitting outside the firing. All the stones are added after the firing. It is signed on the bottom in the clay.
So, why hematite? Russell has begun to use it in his recent pieces for several reasons. There is a traditional aspect in that women wear hematite bracelets when they do certain traditional dances at the Pueblo. There is also hematite content in the clay slips use on the pottery. The way Russel has used it on this piece gives it a very modernist appearance.