Butterfly Seed Pot

Barbara Gonzales



The great-granddaughter of San Ildefonso pottery icon, Maria Martinez, Barbara Gonzales has carried on her family’s tradition of extraordinary pottery.

Barbara, who refers to herself as a clay artist, rather than a potter, has mastered what she has dubbed the “slipped-designed polychrome” technique.

This stunning seed pot is a dazzling example of her expertise.

With the spider-web and butterfly motif, she is well known for, Barbara’s intricate design and attention to detail are what really make this piece exquisite.

The incised design is as incredibly delicate and lovely as a real-life web and butterfly are.

Impossible dainty lines create the spiderweb. Look closely at the middle left side of the web, and you will see a feather, cleverly integrated into it.

This represents an eagle feather, meant to carry prayers up to the heavens.

The design is a visual prayer that the butterfly will help to propagate edible plants, as well as roses and that the spider will eliminate insect pests.

Happiness, good health, and prosperity will reign, with an abundant harvest.

The piece was totally traditional, in fabrication.

The black finish on the hand-gathered, natural clay is illuminated with a halo of burnt sienna clay slip, that encompasses the perfectly etched butterfly, perched on a wild rose.

Black and russet brown were both created by carbonization, during pit-firing.

The russet area was masked, while the fire was smothered with dried sheep or horse manure, to create the indelible black finish.

The flawless, glossy finish was created by polishing with a hand-held polishing stone.

Sleeping beauty turquoise, embedded into the clay, acts as the butterfly’s head; tiny coral dots form the end of its antennas.

These little accents of brilliant color liven up the dark and earthy, backgrounds

This is a timeless, impeccably fashioned piece, by an artist connected to a historic legend in Native pottery.

A  beautiful and special addition to any collection, with the artist’s Native name incised on the back: Tahn-Moo-Whe.

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