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So This Is How It's Done
   Materials are native to the region.  Orange clay is from Namiquipa, white clay from the mountains above Mata Ortiz.  Black pigment is obtained from three minerals; red is from two minerals and a tree root.
   Paint brushes are often made from children's hair
   Clay is ground on a metate, sifted, mixed with water and allowed to rest
   Clay is formed into a pot by hand; a knife edge is used to even and smooth the surface.  The process to this point will take about two hours for a large pot.
   A white clay slip is applied to the outside of the pot
   20-30 minutes later the design is painted-this will take about three more hours.  The outline is applied in black; then solid areas are filled in, first the black and then the red
   Designs usually evolve as they are painted
   Conscious principles of placement of line and color are implemented, for example, as each line is painted the pot is rotated 180 degrees and the line repeated on the opposite side
   Next, cooking oil is brushed over the surface to slow the drying process; this keeps the clay from splitting
   A filmy piece of plastic or the skin of the maguey plant is applied directly to the wet painted surface; this keeps the paint from smearing as the pot is polished with a smooth polishing stone.  This presses the pigment into the wet clay so it will not smear with subsequent polishings
   Several days later when the pot is dry, it is fired; the pot is inverted on stones and a bee hive type mound of dried cow ships is placed around and over the pot
   A bucket is often placed over the item being fired.  The bucket will protect the pot and lets air circulate for oxidation
   After approximately 30 minutes the pot is removed on the end of a poker and allowed to cool.  Often the pot is immersed in water

View photos of fired pottery

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