Sunday, October 30, 2011
Shopping in New Mexico
When we travel, we seek opportunities to experience the history, geology and culture of an area.
In New Mexico, geology is obvious. The land forms are mostly naked, devoid of vegetation that hides features like it does here in the northwest.
The history and culture of New Mexico are tied to the Ancestral Publoans, the Pueblo Indians that followed them, and the Mexican Spanish that overtook them.
The Pueblo Indians always made pottery, but in the twentieth century they developed pottery into a highly prized art form. Tom and I were very interested in learning all we could about southwestern pottery.
We started in Albuquerque on our first day by visiting a well respected pottery gallery in Old Town, and by buying this book.
Tom was especially interested in Hopi pottery, probably because of this pot. His aunt bought in as a tourist piece on a trip to the southwest in about 1937. It has been around in the family for a long time, and before he claimed it, it was just knocking around in our old cabin at Whidbey.
It's marked in pencil at $1.50. We think today we would have to add at least two zeros.
Because the tourist season was over, many shops were having sales of from 30 to 70 %. We found this sweet little Hopi pot in Albuquerque.
And I bought this pretty little Acoma pot.
We found this fun pottery road runner ornament at the Christmas Shop in Old Town.
At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque we bought this Jemez angel.
Storyteller figures have become very popular since first made in the 1960's by a Cochiti woman. I bought this one from a Jemez man vending his wife's wares in front of the Palace of the Governors in Old Santa Fe.
On our pueblo tour north of Santa Fe we visited Pueblo de San Ildefonso and Santa Clara. These two pueblos are related and share the legacy of the black on black pottery made famous by Maria Martinez. We learned how this pottery was made and talked to several potters.
At Santa Clare we met Corn Moquino, who has been making pottery for over thirty years. Turns out he is actually of Zia and Hopi descent. As a Zia he has the right to use the Zia bird figure, which represents the road runner. From him we bought this cute little pot with the Zia bird in Santa Clara black on black.
We met the most potter/vendors at Taos Pueblo. This has the look of Acoma.
This is the type of pottery traditionally made at Taos, using clay mixed with mica to give it a sparkle.
One of the Taos women had this pot made by a Zia friend. Zia is hard to find. We especially liked the Zia bird and corn motif. The painting is all done by hand, using clay slips from earth and rocks. The pottery is hand formed using coil method or pinch pot for the smallest ones.
I'm not sure the Taos woman I bought this from made this, but she did do the etching of the hummingbird, and she could tell me all about how horse hair is used in the firing to achieve the black markings.
On the High Road to Taos, we visited Chimayo, a Spanish settlement dating back to the 1680's. This area is famous for weaving. I bought this table mat as a sample of the work done by the Ortega family, weavers for over eight generations.
And then there was the jewelry.
On the Turquoise Trail we stopped at the trading post in Cerellos, an old turquoise mining town. While the mines were long ago shut down, the trading post proprietor had discovered a new source. This is his turquoise, mounted by his son in a silver Zia sun, which is the sate symbol.
In the plaza outside of the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, a vendor offered to make a necklace for $30, and you pick the stone. I picked this pretty one.
There were three symbols I was most interested in, the Zia sun, the life spiral, and the water serpent prevalent on the San Ildefonso pottery.
I found this inlaid turquoise and silver pendant mounted on shell at a shop in Madrid on the Turquoise Trail. It was made by Ambrosio Chavez of the Santo Domingo Pueblo.
While this is not exactly the water serpent, it's a lot like it. This is Hopi silver that I purchased at Bandolier National Monument.
And then there was stuff for the grand kids. Irene is crazy about peacocks. I found this puppet for her. She loves it!
We're really into puppets, and I found this big raven for Isaac.
I looked all over for a good road runner, and finally found this one in Taos. And there were several books to complete the package.
We don't usually buy this much when we travel. I guess we just got a bit enchanted with the Land of Enchantment. The kids love their gifts, I am having fun wearing the jewelry and telling the stories of how I came to buy it, and we love our little pottery collection.