Youngblood, Mela – Candlesticks with Handles (1970s)
This is a classic pair of candlesticks by Mela Youngblood. She was a daughter of Margaret Tafoya and began making pottery in the late 1960s and quickly achieved a distinctive style for her work. Each piece of her work was very highly polished. These candlesticks have a triangular base and twisted to the top. There is a handle on each. They are fully polished and fired a deep black. They are in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. Each is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Mela Youngblood”.
“Candlestick holders were created in clay at the various Pueblos by at least the 1920s. They were a folk art/functional form that was made for tourists, much like the “cigarette boxes” or ashtrays. Most of the candlestick holders were made to be used. Today, we may dismiss them for their craft and utilitarian form. However, we should also keep in mind the technical skill required to make them. The candlesticks from Santa Clara or San Ildefonso are made from native clay and most are fully polished. They are typically traditionally fired a deep black coloration so that they never discolor from smoke or flame. There is always a risk of traditionally firing something that is solid clay. Since so many candlesticks were used, they have not always remained in the best condition over the years. Finding pieces from the 1920s to the 1970s that have survived intact is a rarity. Today, few potters continue to make them but it is exciting when they continue this uniquely Pueblo variation of a most functional form.” Charles S. King