Pahponee has been working with clay since the 1980s and with Wright’s for nearly as long! She is a member of the Kickapoo and Potawatomi Nations from the Great Lakes area and is a self-taught clay artist.
Pahponee has re-learned the pottery methods that are a part of her culture’s tradition and has added more contemporary tools and techniques to her art as well.
This beautiful Olla is a perfect example of the wondrous way in which she blends traditional and contemporary!
Made with hand-dug clay, this olla was not hand-coiled but thrown on a potter’s wheel, a more contemporary method that takes considerable practice and determination. It is due to this that the lines seem so perfect, and you can see the tiny ridges left by the spinning of the wheel and her potter’s tools on the inside of the piece.
Although it looks as if a multitude of different colors of clay was used to create this stunning piece, it is actually made from one single color clay. The variation in hue is due to the way in which Pahponee fires her pottery.
Using a traditional, outdoor firing method, and creating the fire with self-collected buffalo chips, Pahponee lets the flames do as they choose. The pattern that results is known as a fire cloud, which is technically defined as “an irregular discoloration on the exterior of the pottery; usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing.” The places that were touched by the flames the most are darker, and the places with the least amount of exposure are more creamy colored.
This method of firing ensures that each piece is truly unique, as no piece of pottery ever has the exact same exposure to the flames. The vibrancy and depth that the varied colors exude are stunning, and many times, patterns or shapes reveal themselves to you the more you look at a piece.
A truly remarkable piece by an artist who is the last of her kind in her tribe, this is definitely one you don’t want to miss out on!