I believe that for a pot to have the same look and feel as an ancient Anasazi pot it has to be made the same way. There are many potters that have tried to copy only the look of an Anasazi pot, but without following the ancient process it just doesn't have the right feel. For me, it is all about the process and the journey, the whole experience start to finish, and to me this pays respect to the Anasazi and their culture. I focus mainly on anasazi "Black on White”. This style is appealing to me because of how unique and striking the designs are and how challenging the process is from start to finish. Here is a simplified list of the steps that I go through:
Find and collect clay from the earth.
Processing the wild clay- I soak the clay and mix it into water. After it has settled I use the finer upper layers of clay after it has dried to the right consistency.
Find and collect temper (grog)- I use sand or grind old pot shards or certain types of rocks for temper. I then knead the temper into the clay body.
Building- My pots are all hand buiIt using the “coil and scrape” or slab method. The Anasazi did not use pottery wheels. I use a variety of tools, scapers and smoothers to help shape the pots.
Slip - When the pots are dry enough I paint on several coats of slip. The “slip” is a white clay that is processed the same way as the clay is for the clay body except that it is kept as a liquid paintable consistency. The purpose of the slip is to give a nice light colored background for the paint to contrast with.
Burnishing - Burnishing is polishing or smoothening the surface of the pots with a polished stone. This can either smooth the pot or give it a glazed finish, depending on the stage of dryness of the pot.
Painting - I paint all my pots with paint that I make myself from rocky mountain bee plant. The bee plant is boiled down to a thick tar like consistency. I make brushes out of Yucca leaves for painting.
Firing. All of my pots are fired outside in an anasazi style trench kiln. From start to finish a firing takes 3-4 hours, depending on the number of pots and the type of wood used. Firing is intense and exciting…and can also be exhausting!