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The Story Behind This Painstakingly Perfect Pot

By Andrew Richdale

Aug 5, 2016

From the September/October 2016 issue

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If you bring home one ceramic creation from the American Southwest, Shiprock Santa Fe Gallery owner Jed Foutz  says make it an Acoma pot

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“Of any Southwestern tribe, the Acoma craft the most stunning and sophisticated pottery. My family has been trading with them since 1870. Prized for their sense of balance and bold designs, each pot takes two to three solid weeks of work when made the traditional way, as the renowned Cerno and Lewis families still do."

"In Acoma Pueblo, which sits on a scenic bluff an hour west of Albuquerque, artists roll clay into ropes, wind them into the shape they want, and fire it up. The natural clay they use is so durable, it allows them to make thin, delicate walls. To get those superfine lines, they apply paint, made from plants and minerals, with a yucca tip. On the surface, you see the crosshatches, representative of a sacred connection to Earth. Then you look more closely and see another layer of lines you didn’t realize was there. At Sky City Cultural Center, you can watch the process in person. It’s incredible seeing how masterfully artists apply the lines. The staff can also connect you with families who allow visits and sell their work."

"Another solid place to buy is Santa Fe’s yearly Indian Market, the world’s largest show of Native American artists. Be prepared to spend at least $1,500 for an Acoma pot made without cutting corners. But I’m a traditionalist: The story is what you’re paying for.” —As told to Andrew Richdale

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