Native American Pottery
Traditional Artforms from the Southwest
The native peoples of the American Southwest are famed for making beautiful pottery decorated with geometric patterns and designs of animals and people. A great online collection of pottery photos, for appreciation and inspiration, can be found at the Hollister Collection of
Southwestern Native American Pottery.
These pots and bowls are made from clay dug from the ground near rivers and streams. The artist shapes the dish by hand, often using round stones to smooth and polish the damp clay. The designs are painted onto the pots then baked in a hot fire to harden the clay and make it permanent.
You can decorate pots in the style of the great pueblo potters. If you have a ceramic studio in your town, phone and ask if they teach classes for kids to learn how to shape and bake clay pots. Otherwise, you can buy an inexpensive clay flower pot at a hardware or gardening store and decorate it with traditional designs. Here's what you'll need:
Lightly draw a design on your flowerpot with the pencil. It does not have to be really straight or perfect...just sketch the main shapes. Paint the design with acrylic paints and let it dry overnight. The paint will be permanent and waterproof, but delicate...so treat your pot gently. Plant a flower inside, or use it as a pencil holder on your desk.
- A clay (terra cotta clay) flowerpot
- A pencil and eraser
- Acrylic paint in black, tan and reddish brown...turquoise blue is nice too
- Books from your library showing traditional pueblo pottery designs
For a handy air-dry clay that helps kids learn the traditional pottery techniques of creating pinch and coil bowls, see the DAS Terra Cotta Clay in the KidsArt On-Line Catalog.
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