Youngblood, Nancy – Red 32 Rib “S” Swirl Melon Bowl (2008)
This is a classic swirl melon bowl by Nancy Youngblood. The red is a striking coloration and the ribs on this jar are deeply carved and highly polished. The bowl has 32 ribs, which extend from the mouth to the base. Note on the top of the bowl how each rib is delineated and carved to a separate point! It’s incredible that they don’t chip or crack when she is carving or polishing them. The ribs flow from the rim back and forth to the base to create the classic “S” Swirl. For the size of the bowl, having 32 ribs, means that they are very closely carved and there is an additional precision to keep them from getting chipped or cracked when polishing. As well, note the depth of the carving on this piece. The entire bowl is fully polished which takes an extraordinary amount of time. Consider that each rib has two “sides” to be polished and the surface area of the piece is about double its size! The outdoor firing of red pottery is always riskier, as it is hard to predict the final coloration. This bowl has a deep red that flows across the surface. Nancy has won numerous awards for her melon bowls and this is undoubtedly a classic of her style, most recently the 2018 “Best of Pottery” at Santa Fe Indian Market. The bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Nancy Youngblood, 2008”. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.
“Technically, this is one of the most difficult pieces to polish because you are continually flipping it around. You polish one side of a rib, and then you have to flip it real fast and polish the other side. 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 Clay