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Mimbres bowls of the American Southwest.

Wash your face. Don't step in the mud. Who tracked dirt into the house? Wipe your feet. Sometimes it seems that dirt is our greatest enemy. Dirt seems bad--a thing to be avoided. It's ugly. It's messy. But is this true? What is dirt? What good is dirt? Can dirt possibly be useful and beautiful?

The pinkish clay of southwestern America was used for ceramics by Native Americans in that area. The Mimbres Valley of New Mexico is known for its beautiful ceramics. The artists who made the Mimbres ceramics often buried them with their dead. Just before it was buried, a hole was punched in the bottom of the bowl, symbolically killing the bowl. Mimbres bowls were decorated with animals, birds and insects combined with geometric designs. Each piece was unique.

The Grasshopper Bowl was done almost 1,000 years ago. Notice how each of the four grasshoppers is different. Each insect is placed within the black and white geometric framework. Do you remember the reason for the hole in this bowl?


1 Roll out a long snake-like piece of clay (self-hardening clay or salt ceramic).

2 Bend the clay coil around in a spiral shape to begin the bottom of the bowl.

3 Continue this coil method upward to make the sides.

4 Wet your fingers and smooth the coils until they are flat.

5 When your bowl is dry, you can paint a design on it. (Remember the Mimbres bowls were decorated with a combination of geometric designs and living creatures.)


pottery ceramics Mimbres New Mexico Native Americans clay

H. T. Niceley is a professor at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and a frequent contributor to SchoolArts.
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Title Annotation:child's pottery project
Author:Niceley, H.T.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Previous Article:Coil ... blend ... spin ... shape ... coil-building technique in ceramics.
Next Article:The Pueblo storyteller.

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