Sgrafitto Water Serpent Olla

Caroline Elliott


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One of the younger generation of the famously gifted Naranjo family of potters, all award-winners.

She is a daughter of Bernice Naranjo, and mother of newly emerged pottery star, Jonathan Naranjo.

This small olla demonstrates Caroline’s well-known, prize-winning style: gorgeous polish, rich brown tonalities, and swooping, curved, sgrafitto designs, usually taken from nature.

Here, the elaborate and decorative design, on the top half of the olla, is an interpretation of the Avanyu, the Water Serpent.

This ancient, traditional motif represents that most precious resource – water, especially flowing water.

Incised spirals decorate the serpent. These are age-old symbols of water and rivers.

Every detail is meticulously detailed; the forms are lusciously rounded and graceful, enhancing the rotundity of the olla.

The top half is left matte, as it emerges from the fire pit; the bottom is stone-polished to a brilliant gloss.

Needless to say, the entire pottery method is traditional, from gathering the clays, mixing it, coiling it, smoothing and incising the design, to firing outdoors, in the ground, and hand polishing.

The lovely soft sienna brown color is favored by her family. It results from pulling the pot out of the fire before the dried horse or sheep manure, which is smothering the flames, can turn it black.

A beautiful pot, with a wonderful design, by a noted potter. And, it is easy to display, since it is modest in size!

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