Here we have a sweet panting mutt figurine by Santa Clara potter Margaret Naranjo. Santa Clara Pueblo is known for black pottery, which begins with natural red clay gathered from the area. From a website describing the process: "The artist generally rolls the clay into long thin rolls, then begins to 'build' the piece by layering these rolls one on top of the other. This hand coiled method includes smoothing the coils by hand to the pottery's final shape. The artist then begins the arduous task of polishing the piece. This is accomplished by rubbing a smooth 'polishing' stone over the piece over and over until the red clay shines. Finally, the piece is fired in an 'oxygen reduction' firing process. During the firing, the artist smothers the fire with horse manure. The manure traps a thick, carbon rich smoke all around the piece. The carbon contained in the smoke fuses itself into the clay, turning it black. This black color can never be removed or washed off. The entire process is fraught with problems as about 3 of every 5 pieces actually emerge from the fire without damage. Given the rarity of this pottery, artists often view the clay as a living entity. A finished piece is often revered as a gift from what pueblo potters often respectfully refer to as the 'Clay Mother'. The end result is a stunning piece of Native American pottery work of art."
"Naranjo" is a well-known Santa Clara potter family. Research on Margaret brought up a couple of other figural pieces by the artist--a black-on-black turtle and a dachshund. I also found a pot circa 1950 made by the artist, and so while we don't know a lot about Margaret, I do believe this piece was also made in the mid 20th Century. Pieces of similar size carrying her signature sell for between $195 and $450.
This pottery dog is charming, so typical of the types of dogs you see in rural New Mexico. One ear up, one ear down. The piece measures about 1-7/8" across and just under 4-1/2" from tip of tail to tip of nose. He sits just under 3" tall. The piece is completely hand made and thus carries the perfect imperfections of hand made pottery. No chips or cracks. Is signed Margaret N. Sta Clara on the bottom.
A spiritual piece of art, for the person who knows that dogs are people too!
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