Employing the same methods of construction, coils of native clay are handbuilt into bowls and jars, carving into the surface the Avanyu or feathers,a smooth stone is rubbed over the slipped surface to create a high shine, then mineral and vegetal paints are applied. The firing is done outdoors in a pit with dried animal dung and wood heating the raw vessels. When the fire dies out all are removed except for those that will be re-fired to black by creating a reduction firing with the dung stacked over the pottery.
Indian pottery has been the most collectible art form for the longest time, the first famous American Indian artist was the Hopi potter, Nampeyo of Hano. She was being written about by 1880. Scores of her descendants are continuing her craft.
The second most famous Indian potter is Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso Pueblo. She and her husband Julian were world famous by 1920. Their most enduring legacy is the black fired pottery with a gunmetal shine, reverse painted with matte black designs. Maria b.1882-d.1980 is credited with showing her Pueblo how to make a real living from pottery, saving many from the ravages of the Great Depression.
Today there are many fine pottery artists in all the Pueblos of Arizona and New Mexico. Some are traditional to the core and some are using cutting edge technology.