He is one of a long line of notable potters, some of whom were, and are, part of Native pottery history.
His grandmother, Carmelita Dunlop, was a niece of the legendary Maria Martinez, was raised by her and became an award-winning potter.
Erik’s mother, Martha Appleleaf, is currently a celebrated, award-winning potter, and he is, as well.
Like much of Erik’s work, this elegant, jar is traditional, with subtle, individual touches.
It has perfect proportions, and the flawless “patent leather”, glossy finish that is one of his family’s hallmarks.
One of the special features of this pot is the terra cotta color of the rim, which shades imperceptibly into the black of the body.
Black pottery is created when the fire in an outside firing pit is at its hottest, and the flames are smothered with dried horse or sheep manure.
The black color that results is a chemical reaction, not a glaze, and not soot. It is permanent.
The reddish rim on this beautiful pot resulted when the rim was protected from the deluge of dried manure, so it retained some of the original red clay hue.
The texture of the clay after firing is matte, like a flower pot in texture.
To obtain this almost mirror-bright finish, the pot was polished with a hand-held polishing stone, rubbing back and forth, until the matte finish was transformed into this “patent leather” luster.
This jar is reverse-painted around the upper half. The matte background was painted on with a clay slip, revealing the polished motifs.
A row of stylized eagle feathers parades around three sides of the pot. Eagles fly so high, they are thought to carry hopes and prayers up to the heavens.
On the side in-between the feathery design, a stepped rain sign and various other storm signs signify what prayers the feathers represent.
Reinforcing this idea, several delicate dragonflies flit around the lower portion of the piece, as they flit on and above waterways, in real life.
The dragonflies are portrayed symbolically, in a design that is called a Pueblo cross; this symbol eased the way for Spanish priests to convert the Pueblos, hundreds of years ago.
The legacy of generations of gifted hands, and innate artistry are what Erik brings to every piece; this stately jar is an excellent example.