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How Authentic Acoma Pueblo Pottery Is Made
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The Making of Acoma Pueblo Pottery Explained

Note: Website items are NOT available for in-store viewing, in-store purchase, or layaway. Website items MUST be purchased online, for inventory control purposes. In-store pick up option is available at check out.

Acoma pottery stands as a unique and captivating art form steeped in a rich history and defined by its unparalleled style. Hailing from the Acoma Pueblo, also known as “Sky City,” this pottery tradition finds its roots in one of the United States’ most ancient and enduring Native American communities.

At Palms Trading Company, our 133 years of combined experience in dealing with Native American goods has made us specialized experts on the history, culture, and workmanship of the pottery products we offer.

To help deepen your appreciation for the cultural heritage and craftsmanship behind Acoma Pueblo pottery, let’s dive into the intricate process of how these stunning works of art are created.

How Acoma Pottery Is Made: A 4-Step Process

The Acoma tribe is home to some of the most beautiful pottery in New Mexico.

Notable for its polychrome and monochrome designs, these handmade pieces showcase delicate thin walls, stylistic fluted rims, and unique geometric designs.

The making of Acoma Pueblo pottery is a one-of-a-kind process that’s very labor-intensive.

At Palms Trading Company, we’re proud to offer a collection of vintage Acoma pottery. That’s why we want to take you on a 4-step journey through the intricate process of creating these beautiful works of art.

  1. Collecting Clay

    The first step in the journey of these pottery pieces begins with the earth.

    Local white clay, sourced from Sky City, is the foundation for these masterpieces. The clay is carefully processed and purified to remove any impurities that might affect the quality of the pottery.

    This step connects the Acoma artist to the land, emphasizing the deep-rooted connection between the pottery and the pueblo’s natural surroundings.

  2. Forming the Piece

    Acoma pottery distinguishes itself by its unique construction method. Unlike the more common pottery formed on a wheel, Acoma pottery is created completely by hand using the coil method.

    This traditional method involves crafting the vessel from the base upward by individually layering snake-like clay coils on top of one another. 

    Each coil can vary in length to determine the width and overall size of the piece—longer coils make for a wider piece, and a larger number of coils will create a taller piece. The potter’s hands then shape and mold these coils into the desired form.

    Once the clay piece takes shape, it’s meticulously smoothed over and sanded to achieve the desired texture. This is crucial in achieving its traditional matte finish and smooth surface.

  3. DecoratingFiring

    Acoma pottery is celebrated for its form and elaborate designs.

    The artisans draw inspiration from their surroundings and traditions, often incorporating Acoma pottery symbols of various animals, insects, and representations of weather patterns. Popular examples include parrots, lightning, and rain.

    Acoma pottery designs are characterized by fine lines, hatching patterns, and an array of geometric patterns, adding depth and storytelling to each piece.

    The paints used to embellish a piece’s exterior are made from natural materials, vegetal materials, and minerals found locally. When left unpainted, pieces are a light cream, almost white color. Many pieces are characteristically black and white, but terra cotta colors are also used. You will typically see shades of red and orange outlined in black.

    Acoma artists must hand-paint pieces during the day since there is no electricity in the Acoma Pueblo tribe. 

    This connection to nature and the tribe’s surroundings is a fundamental aspect of Acoma pottery, embodying the tribe’s dedication to cultural practices and traditions.

  4. Firing

    Firing is the final step in creating a pottery piece, and it’s a critical moment in the process.

    The pottery is subjected to extremely high temperatures during the firing process. At this point, any impurities in the clay, if they exist, become apparent.

    This intense firing process can be a make-or-break moment for each piece, as impurities in the clay can cause the pottery to crack or explode. It’s a testament to the skill and experience of the Acoma artisans that so few pieces break. 

    The end result is an exquisite vintage treasure showcasing years of cultural traditions and history.

Where To Buy Acoma Pottery for Sale

Here at Palms Trading Company, we offer authentic Acoma Pueblo pottery for sale sourced directly from local reputable Acoma artists. By acquiring pieces from these Acoma artisans, we help to support their community and traditions while sharing beautiful collections of art with you.

Each piece is a testament to generations worth of cultural heritage of the Acoma Pueblo and the dedicated craftsmanship of its artisans. With such a unique design, Acoma Sky City pottery pieces make for stunning, conversation-starting decor for any living space.

Check out our one-of-a-kind Acoma pottery pieces made by local artisans today!