|MAKING ACOMA POTTERY
Acoma Pottery is known for its very thin walls, stylistic fluted rims, and beautifully painted geometric designs. Creating Acoma Pottery is a time consuming and resource intensive venture. From collecting the clay to the final firing, the finished product is by far some of the most beautiful Native American pottery. Though today it is more of a hobby that supplements the income of the potters, not too long ago it was a form of sustenance that favored the prolific.
Acoma potters use the same technique that other Native American pueblos use:
COLLECTING THE CLAY
Local sources are found. The clay must be mined, cleaned, and filtered for impurities. A time consuming task.
FORMING THE VESSEL
The vessels are not formed on a wheel like most pottery, instead, the coil method is used. Starting at the bottom, a 'snake' of clay is built from the ground up. The vessel is smoothed and sanded. The Acoma are known for their thin walled pieces, characterized by fluted tops.
Ranging from geometric to representational, there are some designs that stand out. Chaco Canyon Spikes, Tularosa Basin Lighting, Mesa Verde Fret, and Mimbres Animals dominate the designs. The designs are painted onto the formed and polished vessel by hand using natural minerals and vegetal paints. The painting is done by hand. If you think creating art on a 2-dimensional scale is difficult, try to do it on a 3-dimensional scale! Especially at Sky City is this challenging. You can only decorate during the day (there is no electricity).
This is where no potter must be able to sleep. After investing upwards of 60 hours to create a piece, there is the chance that it is all for nothing. They typically fire all of their pieces formed during the year at once.
At very high temperatures, the pots are lined around a large (and very hot) outside fire. If during the collecting they did not remove all of the impurities, the pots can explode. This not only destroys the piece, but could damage the surrounding pots.