ClayHound Web - The Quest

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On May 21, 1986, Monique bought our first piece of traditionally made pottery - that's when it all began....

In Search of Clay

We first set our goal toward collecting a piece from each of the 21 Pueblos.  While collecting, we also picked up pieces from other Southwest desert locations and a few from the East. 

After searching for all the potential pottery sites through references and by contacts, we set our sights on obtaining  pieces from the other known locations. This is what we've found so far...






The crown of all
traditional pottery.
At least one piece from
each of the
21 Pueblos.

At least one piece from each of
10 Southwest Desert
pottery sites
At least one piece from
each of
13 Eastern Woodland
pottery sites
At least one (legal!) piece
in any condition from anywhere in NA
 predated to

* We're not just collecting - we're preserving an ancient art *


Rules of the ClayHounds

The rules are simple and basic ...and flexible.  After all, it's all supposed to be fun! ...Right?  But of central issue is the term "traditional".  Purists may have different standards, but ours is defined below.

Pottery Construction to qualify as "Traditional"

  1. Must be hand made by the "hand coiled" (or "pinch pot") method
    - key to the traditional style.
  2. Local hand mixed clay.
  3. Slips and paints from local natural materials.
  4. Hand made traditional tools.
  5. Pit fired.
  • Items 4 & 5 only.

  • Ceramics (molded pots), wheel made and traditional pots with poster paints are acceptable for our collection as long as they are Native American made by those who historically produced pottery - but they are not considered "traditional" and not historically representative.

  • Modern tools are acceptable (Native Americans do advance with time).

  • Kiln fired is acceptable (same reason) - although pit fired is preferred.

Junior ClayHound:

  • You can reduce the number of Desert or Woodland  locations - since some of these are very hard to find.  However, you can not reduce the number of the 21 Pueblo sites - this is the central goal!

Look at this fellow's collection.  No, this is not a gallery, but a personal collection in a warehouse. 
Now, this
man is a Top Dog ClayHound !


Glossary for Pueblo Pottery

Carved:  decoration cut deeply into a pot.
Corrugated:  pottery with rows of little indentation on its surface.
Fillet:  rope of clay that is coiled on a base to create the walls of a pot.
Fire Cloud:  dark smudge on a pot that was fired outdoors, caused by a piece of burning fuel touching the pot.
Fired:  baked at a high temperature.

Greenware: unfired clay objects, mass-produced in molds.
Guaco:  a paint made by boiling beeweed.
Heartline:  painted arrow leading from the mouth into the chest of an animal motif.
Incised:  fine lines scratched through the surface of an unfired pot.
Kaolin: very fine, soft white clay.

Leather Hard:  stage of dryness at which an unfired pot is no longer malleable.
Line Break:  gap left in an encircling line.
Melon Bowl:  rounded bowl with thick, vertical ribs.
Mudheads:  ceremonial clowns.
Ollas:  Spanish for “pots”.

Oxidizing atmosphere:  the condition in which air is allowed to reach the pot throughout the firing process. 
Paste:  mixture of clay and temper.
Polychrome:  painted with various colors.
Pueblo:  Spanish for “people” or “town.”  Now, the traditional people of the Rio Grande and the Jémez River valleys as well as Laguna, Ácoma, Zuni, and Hopi. 
Puki:  bowl-shaped object used to support the curved bottom of a pot.

Reducing atmosphere:  occurs when oxygen is kept from pottery during firing.
Sgraffito:  decoration scraped very shallowly into a pot’s surface.
Sherd:  piece of broken pottery; sometimes spelled shard to reflect the British pronunciation.
Slip:  liquid clay applied over a pot to smooth and/or color it.  Some slips have an important chemical reaction with certain paints.
Smothering:  covering the pots with powdered fuel—usually manure—during firing.

Split rectangles: design element in which a rectangle is divided in half diagonally and each half is decorated differently.
Temper:  gritty material added to clay to prevent a piece from shrinking or breaking as it dries or is fired.
Turkey eyes:  design element consisting of a dot encircled by white space bordered by a dark color.
Yucca:  very fibrous evergreen plant that grows throughout the 
Southwest, used by some potters as a paintbrush

Glossary from: