Shapes and Forms: Miniatures

Miniature corn maiden jar with a lid Miniature lidded corn maiden jar
Thomas Natseway, Laguna

1 in H by 1/2 in Dia
Mimbres frog design on a black and white miniature plate Black and white miniature plate with a Mimbres frog design
Kimo Decora, Isleta

1/2 in H by 3 in Dia
Thirteen pieces in a miniature red nativity set Miniature red nativity set with thirteen pieces
Linda Askan, Santa Clara

1 1/4 in H by 1 in Dia
Measurement of the largest piece
Sgraffito eagle and geometric design on a black seed pot
Black seed pot with a sgraffito eagle and geometric design
Art Cody, Kiowa/Santa Clara

2 in H by 1 3/4 in Dia

Miniatures have played a role in the Pueblo pottery world for more than 100 years. It may not seem as though they are as hard to create as larger pottery but the detail some potters put on their miniatures can make them be as time-consuming.

However, Art Cody (Haungooah, Kiowa married into Santa Clara) once said, "I can make twice the amount of money by making miniatures. There's a bigger demand for miniatures and they're not that time consuming because there's a smaller area to work with. The larger pieces you put more time into it, and then if they do sell you've got to sit back and wait for a buyer to come in." But Art was at the top of his form when he spoke that and most of what he produced found its way to eager buyers before the dealers could get in between.

The official SWAIA miniature designation means the piece is less than 3 1/4 inches in its greatest dimension.

Sgraffito and painted wolf and geometric design on a polychrome seed pot
Polychrome seed pot with a sgraffito and painted wolf and geometric design
Joseph Lonewolf, Santa Clara
1 in H by 1 in Dia
Sgraffito duck and geometric design on a miniature polychrome red seed pot
Miniature polychrome seed pot with sgraffito duck and geometric design
Rosemary Lonewolf, Santa Clara
1 1/2 in H by 1 1/4 in Dia
Sgraffito scorpion design on a black seedpot with a sienna spot
Black seedpot with a sienna spot and sgraffito scorpion design
Dean Haungooah, Santa Clara
1 3/4 in H by 2 1/4 in Dia
Perforated miniature golden micaceous jar
Miniature golden micaceous perforated jar
Hubert Candelario, San Felipe
1 3/4 in H by 1 3/4 in Dia

Of special note is Teresa Wildflower. Teresa is of the Chemehuevi tribe. The Chemehuevi spent probably a thousand years living in the heart of the Mojave Desert. They learned to make a primitive utilitarian pottery from their neighbors, the Mohave, but they were too nomadic to make very much of it. It was easier to trade for and they probably got a better, more consistent product anyway.

Teresa was born on the Colorado River Indian Reservation near Lake Havasu, AZ. The Chemehuevi Reservation was a few miles to the north but Parker Dam had been completed and Lake Havasu was filling. When full, Lake Havasu put half their reservation under water. To alleviate that problem, the federal government created the much larger Colorado River Indian Reservation south of Parker Dam and offered land to tribes and families being dislocated by the rising water.

In those days, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was also busy recruiting and relocating Hopi and Navajo families to the newly created reservation. Putting the timing and the stories together have suggested that one of Teresa's neighbors was a Hopi potter who taught her how to work with clay. Teresa then went on to carve out her own niche in the pottery world.

When Teresa made any kind of animal, bird or reptile figure, the scale was architecturally correct: usually 1 inch equal to one foot. I don't know how prolific she may have been but I have come across one collection that had more than 300 of her pieces.

4-panel feather and geometric design on a miniature polychrome jar A miniature polychrome jar decorated with a 4-panel feather and geometric design
1/2 in H by 1 in Dia
Polychrome miniature jar with a lizard figure eyeing the frog on the lid A miniature polychrome jar with a lizard on the side eyeing a frog on the lid
1 1/4 in H by 3/4 in Dia
Polychrome miniature pitcher with a bird, branch, flower and geometric design A bird, branch, flower and geometric design on a miniature polychrome pitcher
3/4 in H by 3/4 in Dia
Polychrome miniature jar with a pine cone design with a finch on the lid A finch sits on the lid of a miniature polychrome jar with a pine cone design
1 1/2 in H by 3/4 in Dia