Youngblood, Nancy – 32 Rib “S” Swirl Melon Bowl (1984)
This is a classic swirl ribbed melon bowl by Nancy Youngblood. The bowl is coil built and each rib is deeply carved into the clay. The depth of the carving and the symmetry of each rib is exceptional. This is certainly one of the enduring aspects of her incredible artistry. Each rib is then polished with a stone to achieve the shine. The bowl is from 1984 and note the sharp edge to each rib. This is much more time-consuming and difficult than if they are rounded. The sharp edges easily chip during the carving and polishing stages. Nancy said of this style of her carving:
“It’s more challenging to make a more pointed shaped shoulder than a simple rounded bowl. You have to flip them over when you are polishing and holding them at an angle. It’s not just one surface to polish but each side of every rib. They are all hard to do. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” Nancy Youngblood, Spoken Through Clay
As you consider that each rib has two sides and how much surface area there is for this piece! The ribs are also very deeply carved into the clay and almost come to a point at the edge! Check out the image looking down on the bowl to see the depth and symmetry of this piece. Nancy says she can only polish three ribs in one sitting as they are so time-consuming. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. It is signed, “Nancy Youngblood Cutler” and it is from 1984. Simply an iconic piece of her pottery!
Nancy says of her iconic “S” swirl:
This “S” swirl starts with the rib on the right, then it goes to the left, to the right, to the left to the right to the left to the right, and finally to the left. It’s three times on the right and three times on the left. It is extremely difficult to polish because you are moving your hand right to left to right to left as quickly as you can. Then you have to flip the pot over and do it the opposite way. Technically, this is one of the most difficult pieces to polish because you are continually flipping it around. I call that an S swirl. My grandmother was doing pieces a long time ago with that S swirl and so was my uncle Camilo. I saw a piece of my uncle Camilo’s pottery at a gallery here in Santa Fe. It was just a vase, but it had the big swirls on it all the way around. I wanted to make something uniquely mine and not copy theirs so that’s why I created these very intricate swirls.” Nancy Youngblood, Spoken Through ClayNancy Youngblood, Spoken Through Clay