Large Polychrome Olla

Brian Delorme


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Noted for his extraordinarily precise painting and masterful sense of design, this potter has produced a major, handsome and spectacular piece.

This unusually large and shapely olla demonstrates the qualities Brian’s work is known for, in a dramatic way.

The base is the local Acoma, natural, pure white clay; warm russet is a natural clay slip, and the black is from an infusion of wild spinach plants.

The complex patterns of hair-width lines were each painted by hand, with no template – just eye to hand.

The parallel fine lines represent rain, prayed-for good luck in the desert. Thriving crops result, and happy, healthy people, as well.

Fine-line starbursts appear on two sides of the rounded pot, in an intricately interwoven pattern.

Two incised bear paws flank each black and white fine-line design, on the opposite sides.

Bears are powerful protectors, so these signs represent their guardianship, extending to all four geographic directions.

Rounded, stylized feather forms dance around the rim, which symbolize prayers for rain and a good harvest.

Oval leaf forms just below, on the shoulder of the piece, refer to the plants and crops that rain will encourage.

A russet dot in each leaf represents both a seed and a drop of water.

Between the two areas of fine-line starbursts, dramatic, geometric black and russet forms energize the white background.

All the elements are arranged to emphasize the form of the globular piece, which the overall design beautifully achieves.

A majestically formed olla, decorated with exacting precision and a remarkable aesthetic sense.

This very special piece is exceptional in every way – design, form, and execution.

A wonderful pot to exhibit on a table, mantel, or shelf, it is entirely made according to tradition: gathering the clay, mixing, coiling and smoothing it, and painting, of course, all by hand.

(Following current practice at Acoma and elsewhere, especially for large pieces, it was fired in a kiln.)

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