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An older hand formed piece from the Taos Pueblo is of micaceous clay.

The clay, most frequently found in the Sangre de Christo Mountain Range, is rich in Mica, which not only gi es the spar!ling appearance to the bowl but also adds strength to the piece ma!ing micaceous pottery well suited for coo!ing. Traditionally fired in an open pit using wood and bar! from the Pinon and Ponderosa pine these beautiful pieces often are mar!ed with gray smo!e or "fire clouds" resulting from touching or being ery near to the burning timber.

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FYI

Native American pottery is an art form with at least a 7500-year history in the Americas. Pottery is fired ceramics with clay as a component. Ceramics are used for utilitarian cooking vessels serving and storage vessels pipes funerary urns censers musical instruments ceremonial items masks toys sculptures and a myriad of other art forms. !ue to their resilience ceramics have "een key to learning more a"out Precolum"ian indigenous cultures. #aterials and techni$ues %he clay "ody is a necessary component of pottery. Clay must "e mined and purified in an often la"orious process and certain tri"es have ceremonial protocols to gathering clay. !ifferent tri"es have different processes for processing clay which can include drying in the sun soaking in water for days and repeatedly running through a screen or sieve. Acoma and other Pue"lo pottery traditionally pound dry clay into a powder and then remove impurities "y hand then running the dry powder through a screen mi&ing it with a dry temper and then mi&ing water to create a plastic paste. 'n preparing the clay potters spend hours wedging it to remove air pockets and humidity that could easily cause it to e&plode during firing. %he clay then needs to (cure( over time. Coiling is the most common means of shaping ceramics in the Americas. 'n coiling the clay is rolled into a long thin strands that are coiled upon each other to "uild up the shape of the pottery. )hile the potter "uilds the coils up she also "lends them together until there was no trace of the ropes of clay entwined to form the pot no deviation in the thickness of the walls and therefore no weaknesses. Potter*s wheels were not used prior to +uropean contact and are only used today "y a limited num"er of Native American artists. Pinch pots and other

small clay o",ects could "e formed directly "y hand. -ohokam potters and their descendents in the American .outhwest employed the paddle-and-anvil techni$ue in which the interior clay wall of a pot was supported "y an anvil while the e&terior was "eaten with a paddle smoothing the surface. 'n precontact .outh America ceramics were mass-produced using molds. .lip is a li$uid clay suspension of mineral pigments applied to the ceramics "efore firing. .lips are typically red "uff white and "lack/ however Na0ca culture ceramic artists in Peru perfected 12 distinct colors of slips. %hey also used a hand-rotated turnta"le that allowed all sides of a ceramic piece to "e painted with ease. %hese were first used in 500 3C+ and continue to "e used today. .lips can "e applied overall in washes creating large color fields often with cloth or they can "e painted in fine detail with "rushes. 4ucca leaves chewed slightly to loosen fi"ers make e&cellent "rushes that are still in use today in the American .outhwest. Negative painting is a techni$ue employed "y precontact #ississippian potters in the +astern )oodlands #ayan potters in #esoamerica and others which involves covering the ceramic piece in "eeswa& or another resist incised a design in the resist then soaking the piece with a slip. 'n the firing process the resists melts away leaving the colored design. )hile still green pottery can "e incised with designs. Cords te&tiles "askets and cornco"s have "een rolled over wet clay "oth as a decoration and to improve heat dispersion in cooking pots. Carved wood or ceramic stamping paddles are used throughout the .outheastern )oodlands to create repeating designs. Clay can also "e added to the main ceramic structure to "uild up designs. 3efore firing ceramics can "e "urnished or polished to a fine sheen with a smooth instrument usually a stone. 5la0es are seldom used "y indigenous American ceramic artists. 5rease can "e ru""ed onto the pot as well. Prior to contact pottery was usually open-air fired or pit fired/ precontact 'ndigenous peoples of #e&ico and Pue"lo people did make limited use of kilns. %oday many Native American ceramic artists use kilns. 'n pit-firing the pot is placed in a shallow pit dug into the earth along with other unfired pottery covered with wood and "rush or dung then set on fire whereupon it can harden at temperatures of 1600 degrees or more. 7inally the ceramics surface is often polished with smooth stones. %empers %empers are non-plastic materials added to clay to prevent shrinkage and cracking during drying and firing of vessels made from the clay. %empers may include8 3one/ Chaff/ Charcoal/ )ood ash/ 5rit/ .and crushed sandstone/ Crushed limestone/ Crushed igneous rocks such as volcanic rock feldspar or mica/ 5rog 9crushed potsherds:/ Plant fi"er/ #ollusc shells freshwater and marine 9sometimes fossili0ed: crushed/ 7reshwater .ponge spicules. Not all Native American pottery re$uires added tempers/ some -opi potters use pure kaolin

clay that does not re$uire tempering. .ome clays naturally contain enough temper that they do not re$uired additional tempers. %his includes mica or sand in clays used in some %aos Pue"lo Picuris Pue"lo and -opi pottery and sponge spicules in the clay used to produce the (chalky ware( of the .t. ;ohns culture. Ceramics are often used to identify archaeological cultures. %he type of temper 9or mi& of tempers: used helps to distinguish the ceramics produced "y different cultures during particular time periods. 5rog sand and sandstone were all used "y Ancestral Pue"lo people and other .outhwestern cultures. Crushed "one was used as temper in at least some ceramics at a num"er of sites in %e&as. 'n the .outheastern <nited .tates the earliest ceramics were tempered with fi"er such as .panish moss and palmetto leaves. 'n =ouisiana fi"er as tempering was replaced first "y grog and later "y shell. 'n peninsular 7lorida and coastal 5eorgia sand replaced fi"er as tempering. .till later freshwater sponge spicules "ecame an important temper in the (chalky ware( of the .t. ;ohns culture in northeastern 7lorida. =ocally produced ceramics of the =ucayan people in the 3ahamas were characteri0ed "y crushed conch shell tempering as opposed to the $uart0 sand-tempered ware imported from -ispaniola. %he choice of temper used in ceramics was constrained "y what was availa"le "ut changes in the choice of temper can provide clues to influence and trade relations "etween groups. .hell-tempered ware was produced sporadically in various places across the eastern <nited .tates "ut in the late )oodland and early #ississippian periods it "ecame the predominant temper used across much of the #ississippi >alley and middle gulf coast and a ma,or defining characteristic of #ississippian culture pottery. ?rigin and spread %he earliest ceramics known from the Americas have "een found in the lower Ama0on 3asin. Ceramics from the Caverna de Pedra Pintada near .antar@m 3ra0il have "een dated to 7 500 to 5 000 years ago. Ceramics from %aperinha also near .antar@m have "een dated to 7 000 to A 000 years ago. .ome of the sherds at %aperinho were shell-tempered which allowed the sherds themselves to "e radiocar"on dated. %hese first ceramics-making cultures were fishers and shellfish-gatherers. Ceramics appeared ne&t across northern .outh America and then down the western side of .outh America and northward through #esoamerica. Ceramics of the Alaka culture in 5uyana have "een dated to A 000 to 6 500 years ago. Ceramics of the .an ;acinto culture in Colom"ia have "een dated to a"out 6520 3C+ and at Puerto -ormiga also in Colom"ia to a"out 27B6 3C+. Ceramics appeared in the >aldivia culture in +cuador around 2C00 3C+ and in the Pandanche culture in Peru around C6A0 3C+. %he spread of ceramics in #esoamerica came later. Ceramics from #onagrillo in Panama "een dated to around C160 3C+ from %ronadora in Costa Dica to around 1EB0 3C+ and from 3arra in 5uatemala to around 1AEC 3C+. Ceramics of the PurrFn tradition in southcentral #e&ico have "een dated to around 1E05 3C+ and from the Cha,il tradition of northcentral #e&ico to around 1A00 3C+. %he appearance of ceramics in the .outheastern <nited .tates does not fit the a"ove pattern. Ceramics from the middle .avannah Diver in 5eorgia and .outh Carolina 9known as .tallings .tallings 'sland or .t. .imons: have "een dated to a"out CEEE 3C+ 96500 3P: and ceramics of the ?range and Norwood cultures in northern 7lorida to around C6A0 3C+ 96200 3P: 9all older than any other dated ceramics from north of Colom"ia:. Ceramics appeared later elsewhere in North America. Ceramics reached southern 7lorida 9#ount +li0a"eth: "y

6000 3P Ne"o -ill 9in #issouri: "y 2700 3P and Poverty Point 9in =ouisiana: "y 2600 3P.

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