Grace Chapella


Grace Chapella was a Hopi-Tewa potter who lived next door to Nampeyo of Hano. Nampeyo was in her teens when Grace was born and when Grace was older, Nampeyo taught her how to make pottery. Grace lived to be 106 years old (1874-1980) and was making pottery almost until the day she passed on.

Over the years, Grace made a lot of jars and bowls. She prefered to paint them with moths, butterflies, gourds and geometric designs. She painted so many butterflies and moths that they are the decorations most identified with the Chapella family.

She taught the fundamentals of making pottery the traditional Hopi-Tewa way to her daughter, Alma Tahbo, who taught her daughter, Deanna Tahbo, who taught her daughter, Dianna, and son, Mark, who taught several other up-and-coming young Hopi-Tewa potters...

Several years ago I was talking with a couple of Nampeyo's great-great-grandaughters while we were going through several unsigned pots that had been attributed to Nampeyo. We were talking back and forth about what we were feeling with each piece and what they were looking for. The first couple of pieces evoked good responses: the extra ring around the rim was there, yeah that's where Grandma's fingers went inside as she was scraping and polishing, yeah the designs were Grandma's, and yeah, the clay "felt" right. So they passed approval. The third piece felt different, even to me. The first sister held it for a moment and said, "Nope, that's not from Grandma." She handed it to her sister who held it for a moment and said, "Yeah, that's from Grace. Grace lived next door to Grandma. Grandma taught her how to make pottery."

Never doubt the power of Clay Mother...

Geometric design on a polychrome bowl
Polychrome bowl with a geometric design
2.75 in H by 6 in Dia
Bird element and geometric design on a lidded polychrome cookie jar
Lidded polychrome cookie jar decorated with bird element and geometric design
8.5 in H by 7 in Dia

Hopi Potters