Native American Indian Clay

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The New Mexico Pueblo potter possesses an innate talent in the fine and applied arts. She or he is a born artist, possessing a capacity for discipline and careful work, and a fine sense of line and rhythm. Some of these jars were made for use at the pueblos in the daily lives of the households and some were made for sale to tourists and collectors. Regardless of intent, the artistic treatment was the same. These vessels are true expressions of potters’ artistic talents. Potters draw their spiritual sustenance from their tribal life, and that life is all a design, whether a ceremonial dance or ramifications of daily life. The designs applied to their pottery are influenced by life at the pueblo. These pottery vessels are testimony to their talents.


San Juan, San Felipe, Jemez, Navajo, Isleta, Wyandot

Alvin Curran, Cloud and Mountain Pot

5 1/2" tall x 6" wide


Alvin Curran was possibly the most refined and sophisticated San Juan style potter of his generation. He was married to Dolores Curran and his daughter is Ursula Curran, both of whom continue to make pottery.  Alvin took the traditional style of incised San Juan polychrome pottery and refined his carving and painted designs.  Each piece is fully carved and then additional red and white clay slips are added to create the color.  Amazingly, each year at events such as Santa Fe Indian Market, he would enter his pottery in the “carved” categories and win against much more deeply carved and fully polished traditional Santa Clara pottery.  It was a reflection of the precision of his work. 

This bowl is a beautifully carved bowl with a beautiful cloud pattern extending down from the rim and a triangular mountain pattern extending up from the base, kiva steps and geometric patterns adorn this bowl.  The cloud pattern is highlighted with a red clay slip and white clay slip, while the mountain design is in white.  The rim and the base are both fully polished and typical of his pottery it is thin walled and perfectly constructed.

Price: SOLD


Daryl Candelaria, Shard Bowl

9" tall x 6 1/2" wide


In this day of "more of the same," Daryl Candelaria is a true innovator. His art is pottery shard art, and for this he is uniquely qualified. You see, for several years Daryl worked at the School of American Research in Santa Fe. There, he studied SAR's collection of contemporary and historic pottery, and their shards from prehistoric pottery. He uses these patterns in his "sampler" style jars. Also, Daryl is an award winning artist, having won a first in class and a first in division at the 1999 Indian Market, both with a shard jar similar to the one on the left. He also has won firsts at the Eight Northern Pueblos show. In 2000, he retired from potting, and went to work in the San Felipe tribal government. Now, after seven years of not potting, this fine artist is returning to making pottery. I think Daryl is truly unique, and that his work is a real collector's find.

For this cylinder vase, Daryl has carved and painted 22 classic shards on this jar. He has included styles of the contemporary Pueblos as well as shards from Chaco, Kayenta, Mimbres and more.This shard pot is marvelous. It is a very nice, full and tall shaped vessel. There are twenty two shards on this piece - depicting from Cochiti, San Ildefonso, Kiva Mural, Hopi, Acoma, Zia, Taos, Kayenta, Zuni, Hohokam, Tesuque, Santa Clara, Mimbres, Santo Domingo, Pecos, Anasazi, and Laguna. 

Price: $2000.00


Gordon Foley, 48 Ribbed Melon Bowl

5 1/2" tall x 9" wide


Gordon Foley, "Middle of the Plaza",was born in 1975 into the Jemez Pueblo and he is also Oto-Missouria. Gordon was inspired by his elders to learn the art of pottery making. As a child, Gordon would assist other members of his Pueblo to hand coil their pottery and observe their methods, with a careful eye and gather knowledge so that one day he too would be able to make beautiful art of his own.

Gordon specializes in hand coiled contemporary styled pottery, but he is not limited to just that, he also has made clay sculptures. Gordon signs his pottery: Gordon Foley, Jemez. He is related to: Laura Gachupin (mother), Marie G. Romero (Grandmother), Bertha Gachupin (godmother), Maxine Toya (aunt), and Damian Toya (cousin).

This is a large melon ribbed pot and is structurally perfect. Gordon's fame is widespread and whose rendition of melon ribbing is as sharp and crisp as his mother's. This melon bowl is perfect in every way. What a wonderful and very rare shape, high shoulder and narrow opening with a small base. The ribs are perfect, there are 48 ribs and they are as even and precise as one could imagine.


Price: SOLD


Ida Sahmie, Healing Ceramony Jar

5" tall x 4 1/2" wide


This beautiful jar is hand made by Navajo artist Ida Sahmie. This piece is so special; the shape of the jar is perfect.  It is a dance with male and female Yei-bi-chi dancers encircling the jar., a depiction of a healing ceremony; signed on the base: "Ida Sahmie." It is a wonderful attempt to create a “3D” story on the vessel!  Take a closer look at the  images and note how Ida also incises into the clay for the faces and the bodies, leather and masks.  She was a daughter-in-law of Priscilla Nampeyo and Ida continues to make beautifully formed pottery with wonderfully complex designs.  She has won numerous awards for her pottery at events such as Santa Fe Indian Market.  She is the only Navajo potter creating this unique style of ethnographic pottery.

Price: $2000.00


Stella Teller, polychrome lizard bowl

5 1/2" tall x 6" wide


Stella Teller has a long career of making storyteller figurines and has consistently won prizes for them since she made her first one in 1978.  Her great-grandmother, Marcellina Jojola, her grandmother, Emeklia Lente Carpio, and her mother, Felicita Jojola, were all potters.  Stella Teller began working in clay at the age of eight, helping her mother slip and polish small pots. She is now a fulltime potter creating figurines and pottery in her studio at Isleta Pueblo. 

 Her pottery is distinguished from traditional Isleta Polychrome wares by its distinctive colors, which she says are all natural.  The light gray, which has become her trademark, is produced by mixing white clay with manganese.  She was one of the first potters to insert turquoise cabs into the clay.  Not to be considered parochial, Stella Teller expanded the repertoire to include storytellers representing Navajo and Isleta Pueblo, Apache and Hopi males and females.  She is credited with making the first storyteller to represent a Navajo.

One of Stella's earlier pieces was part of the Smithsonian Institute's traveling exhibit in 1987. She is also represented in museums and galleries in California, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Mexico. She is the mother of four daughters Chris, Mona, Robin and Lynette Teller), all of whom are successful potters.

This is a very rare find and such a wonderful piece from Stella. Polychrome, grey, such a warm tan, light blue and white, with inlaid turquoise, having a bulbous body with a lizard surmounted with a turquoise cabochon and surrounded with stylized geometric detail, signed on base. Absolutely wonderful!.  This a rare must have!


Price: $1800.00


Richard Zane Smith, 5 Piece garden Set

16 1/4 in. length of bowl; from 3 1/4 in. to 7 in. length for sculptures


Born in 1955 in Augusta Georgia, Richard Zane Smith is regarded as one of the most unique contemporary potters. Richard Zane Smith is a potter of Wyandot whose remarkable pots

are unmistakable. Fashioned from textures of plaited twine, hues of autumn orange and terra cotta, forms of swelling vessels, or a helix in pirouette--his work immediately draws the eye, defies the medium it is constructed of, and defines the very best of ceramic innovation available to collectors today. 

These tactile surfaces of Richard Zane Smith's pottery evoke a commanding curiosity in the viewer--a desire to question their structure and run their fingers along the mysterious skin. This is a trademark of his work, yet he continues to innovate, further stretching the powers of clay and engaging Native influences from the Southwest and beyond. Compelling his work into new realms, Smith might cut deep designs into the clay, subtly referencing the Santa Clara Pueblo style of carving, or incorporate a paddle and anvil method of imprinting the clay, a technique employed by Native cultures of the Southeast region. Yet he always harnesses these influences within the margins of his own creative aesthetic and the roots of his own tradition. 

Thiis a wonderful example of Smith's work, a "pottery garden," composed of a large corrugated round bowl, filled with black micaceous "soil," inset with a group of five corrugated sculptures, each of organic form, the coils shaped, incised, and painted in numerous colors.

16 1/4 in. length of bowl; Each garden pot range from 3 1/4 in. to 7 in. length.

Price: SOLD


Ida Sahmie, Mother Earth / Father Sky Canteen

7 1/2" high x 6 1/2" wide (body)


Ida Sahmie (Navajo) the wife of Andrew Sahmie (Hopi), and the daugther-in-law of Priscilla Namingha Nampeyo. She was born in 1960 and has been an active potter since 1990.

Her favorite designs are Yei-like figures. She has been described in Hopi-Tewa Pottery: 500 Artists Biographies by Gregory Schaff:

"Ida Sahmie is a Navajo woman who is married into a Tewa family. She has learned how to make pots in the technique and style of Hopi-Tewa potters. However, she prefers to use Navajo designs, especially Navajo Yeis, spiritual 'Holy People.'"

Along with her appearance in Hopi-Tewa Pottery: 500 Artists Biographies by Gregory Schaff (p. 143), Ida is also featured in Fourteen Families in Pueblo Pottery (p. 48), and in The Legacy of a Master Potter: Nampeyo and Her Descendants by Mary Ellen and Laurence Blair (p. 188).

Although her work has drawn criticism from both the Hopi-Tewa and Navajo communities, Ida maintains her commitment to her artwork and continues to push forward with clean and consistent pieces.

Ida is quoted in Fourteen Families: " Personally, I feel I have a unique talent with pottery. It's a combination of both Hopi and Navajo, though I feel it should be more Navajo because I am a Navajo. I want to stick with more Navajo designs. The Yei figures are the most popular for me, secondly would be the rug designs, and third the sand painting designs."

Here is a terrific larger polychrome canteen by Ida Sahmie, (2001). The canteen depicts a Yei figure and a rainbow, and on the back, "Mother Earth and Father sky" depiction. The overall style and execution of this piece is very unique. This is certainly one of a kind.  I have a very special place in my heart for canteens and plates.  This canteen along with the Russell and Margaret canteen are three of my favorite pieces. This flask, or canteen, has been developed to support a cap and leather tether. Much in the same way a Hopi potter might make a "wedding vase," this could be considered Ida's "Navajo wedding canteen." This canteen is very rare since Ida doesn't make many canteens anymore. The coloring of this canteen is simply brilliant, a dark peach, with a red and chocolate brown. What a unique combination of cultures!

Price: SOLD


Glendora Fragua

 5 1/2" wide x 7" tall


Glendora Fragua is recognized as one of today’s top Pueblo potters. Her pottery is elegant and sophisticated, with precision sgraffito on highly-polished red and buff clay vessels. They are masterpieces in form and design. Her designs, which echo the classic Pueblo designs, kiva steps, spirit figures, rain symbols and corn, are uniquely her own. 

Glendora Shows tremendous detailed incising of lizards, fish, geometrics and spiral patterns. This jar is slipped red, and has four medallions incised on the body, Quail and feathers, rabbit, geometric patters and feathers, and two sun face medallions. What a unique shape this pot is.  The polish is flawless and the incising is perfect.  This is an older pot of hers I purchased in the 80's. 

Glendora always carries her precision throughout the canvas of the entire jar. This is such labor intensive work. This is a stunning older creation, extremely thin walled and lightweight.

Price: $1500.00


Harrison Begay Jr. Modern Bear Pot

5" tall x 5" wide


Harrison Begay, Jr. is a Navajo artist. He was born in Keams Canyon, Arizona in 1961. He grew up in Arizona, and Utah, and now resides in New Mexico. He went to college at a small school in Utah and then quickly turned to art as a full time career. He is a self-taught potter, who received lots of help from friends and other artists. Actually, Harrison started as a painter, using oils and acrylics, and then decided to turn all his attention and efforts to pottery.

 Harrison has become known for his deep, clean carvings in both black and red ware. He uses cross-cultural symbols, such as petroglyphs, animal imagery, and geometric designs. He often uses Navajo symbols directly stemming from his own cultural heritage.

 Since 1999 he has won so many awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market, Eight Northern Market, and the Heard Museum Show. It seems that with each passing year, he has become better known, and has earned great respect as a talented potter. 

This carved jar by Harrison is really quite exquisite. It is particularly well carved; deep, precise, and clean. The firing is wonderful, with a high deep black sheen. It is a combination of polished and matte surfaces. The body of the bowl has a stylized bears.  The contrast of the matte and polished surfaces works perfectly on Harrison’s pottery as it creates a visual contrast between the various designs. The combinations of carved bears, and other geometric elements blend so well together on this piece. Each bear has an inset stone which include turquoise, malachite, lapis and coral. It’s a terrifically well designed pot.


Price: $1200.00


Felicita GarciaOHKAY OWINGEH JAR circa 1965

3 1/2" tall x 4" tall 


Felicita Garcia wasn’t one of the seven Ohkay potters who established this style during the San Juan pottery revival during the 1930s, but she might as well have been. This piece is a textbook example of the earliest pieces in the new style: polished red rim and underbody, matte tan band on upper body and incised linear geometric pattern on the tan band with micaceous golden slip rubbed into the incisions. (The mica doesn’t show up well in the picture, but it’s more clearly there if you hold the piece where the light can bounce off the flecks.) It was attempt to establish an “ancestral” style based on designs from P’otsuwi’i Incised, prehistoric pottery found near the Pueblo—brownware jars with closely spaced incised parallel lines, probably made by immigrants to the area who showed up around 1450. Incised designs like this were a widespread feature of prehistoric Mississippian and Chihuahuan pottery and had little to do with anything else that was done around northern New Mexico. A 1998 article by Francis Harlow indicates that the micaceous slip rubbed into the incisions is true to the 15th-century originals. Schaaf’s Pueblo Indian Pottery entry for Felicita shows a picture of an elegant gray-haired matron but tells us only that she was active from 1950 to 1970. You can see more of the almost illegible stone-polished signature by holding it to the light and looking for a shine off the handwriting.

Price: $400.00