MUSEUM QUALITY PIECES of ART
HOW THE POTTERY IS MADE
The potters do everything themselves: finding, digging and processing different clay deposits, to making their own paints and tools and forming, decorating and firing the pots.
Mata Ortiz potters do not use a potters wheel. they press clay into a plaster tortilla mold to shape and support the bottom. They then pinch a clay sausage in to and around the edge of the tortilla. To form the pot the potters continually turn, pinch and pull the clay of the sausage to give the pot its desired shape. As they form the pot the potters smooth and compress the clay by scraping it with the back of a hacksaw blade or similar tool. Once dried they sand the pot and polish it with a smooth stone.
Afterwards they paint the precise and beautiful designs. For paint they use different minerals like manganese or iron oxide which they grind, filter and mix with water. They then make a thin brush usually from hair and paint or carve out the intricate designs.
The last step of the process is to fire the pot on an electric kiln or under a tent of cottonwood bark. The finished pots are exceptionally thin and light.