Natural Clay Hummingbird Tile


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A great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Nampeyo, this daughter of the late Priscilla Namingha Nampeyo carries on her distinguished ancestral recognition.

She is noted for her designs, often recreations of ancient Sityatki patterns, and the precision with which they are executed.

Instead of a bowl, or olla, Rachel has created another pottery form: a tile. It is signed with her Hopi name, and Nampeyo, for her heritage.

Just like the more familiar forms, it is entirely handmade, from digging and mixing the native clays, to forming the piece, adding clay slip, stone polishing it, firing in the ground, and painting with vegetal paints.

Russet red slip contrasts with the warm beige of the body and the brown/black painted pattern, with a gleaming, burnished finish –  except for the painted parts – even on the back.

An abstract version of a hummingbird is formed, especially noticeable against all the other, precisely straight lines.

There is a remarkable combination of tranquil stillness and a thrust of energy in this flat rectangle, owing to the forward motion of the hummingbird, with its wing up high and thin beak pointing straight ahead, within the painted frame.

Natural, vegetal paints, derived by steeping plants in water, produced the brown and black colors.

The mellow beige is the natural color of the clay, and the russet red is a natural clay slip.

With its grace, exact workmanship, and serene simplicity, there is a feeling that this is a snapshot of a single moment in time that you would never be able to see when observing hummingbirds in person as they frenetically dart and dive around you.

It also has a hint of early twentieth-century modernism, like art deco.

Supported by a table easel, this tile will delight and amaze you with its understated, but superbly artistic beauty.

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