The slide show to the left shows the process of making a micaceous vessel.
Rich micaceous slip from the Picuris Mountains
This vessel is almost ready to come out of the fire
The production of a pot is a long process that begins in the high peaks of New Mexico.
The clay is first dug from mountain sources where it is found eroding from Precambrian mica sheet deposits It is cleaned using a gravel mixer and is allowed to dry in large vats.
Pots are hand-built using the coil and scrape method. Once dry, a micaceous slip is added to the surface and the slipped surface is polished with a smooth stone.
The beautiful swirling black designs on this finished pot are called “fire clouds” by Pueblo potters. They are created where wood and bark are allowed to rest against the vessel during firing. The pattern is unpredictable but stunning.
A gunmetal finish is achieved by smuding a hot vessel in a reducing atmosphere.
Vessels are formed and finished my Redding studio
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Felipe Ortega (Jan's mentor) and her daughter Sunday cleaning clay
The finished vessels are fired outside in an open, rock-lined pit.
The ceramic is especially suited for slow cooking and baking. The mica in the clay acts as a heat insulator and protects the vessel as it sits in a fire or on a conventional stove.