Monday, November 4, 2013

Native American Pottery Workshop

On Saturday November 30th and Saturday December 14th
Taught by Charlotte (Whiteowl) Wheat
This workshop will focus mainly on the Cherokee pottery Tradition. Cherokee pottery is renowned for being the product of one of the longest continual traditions of pottery in America, having been made for nearly 2,000 years. The style of Cherokee pottery has evolved over the years. The earliest pieces were hand built and then elaborately decorated with cross hatching, spirals, and other designs. Other designs used by the Cherokee in their pottery included making pots that looked like people or animals, like fish or birds. These containers were used for storing water or seed or for spiritual purposes.  

The Cherokee tradition of stamping pottery has been reinvented and imitated by both later generations of Cherokee potters as well as other modern day potters. Clay artisans use wooden paddles to texturize the clay with modern or ancient designs. The Cherokee also made use of the shells they found to both stamp their clay pottery and to decorate it. Sticks also were used to create new designs, similar to the way that modern artisans use a variety of hand tools to impress designs into their pottery.

The Cherokee Native Americans also were among the first to experiment with the different chemical reactions that they could cause through different firing times, temperature, and smoke. Today we refer to the latter two elements as varying oxygen and carbon levels, however the results were the same. The Cherokee were able to give their pottery different colors as a result of their experiments in the pottery firing process.

Above are some examples of traditional wedding vessels and animal effigy bowls that we will be making in this workshop.

The workshop is taught by the great-great-grand-daughter of Chief John Brown, who was Principal Chief of the Western Cherokee in 1839 and welcomed Chief John Ross and the Eastern Cherokee when they arrived in Oklahoma at the end of the Trail of Tears.

The workshop will cover 2 Saturdays. The first Saturday will be for hand-building your chosen pieces and the second Saturday will be for pit firing the pieces. The first Saturday workshop will be held at Jerry's Artarama off IH 35 in Austin, Texas and the second Saturday workshop for firing will be held two weeks later at 1104 Delano, Austin, Texas (to repeat - the second Saturday will NOT be held at Jerry's Artarama).

The cost of the workshop is $150.00 for the complete workshop which will include the clay you will use.  You may purchase any tools necessary at Jerry's Artarama before the workshop begins. The hand-building workshop times are from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM with an hour lunch break.  The firing workshop will be a pot luck lunch where everyone brings a dish to share.  The workshop will begin at 10:00 AM and last until the firing is complete, usually about 4-5 hours. The finished products can be picked up a couple days later  after they have sufficiently cooled and will be yours to keep or to make great gifts just in time for Christmas.   

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