The Mission: to explore, create and inspire!

thePatientPotter is a blog that is designed to encourage and inspire fellow Potters and Entrepreneurs as it takes them through the challenges and triumphs of a 'potter on a mission'.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Indian Phase

Looking through archived photos of my Indian pottery, memories of a simple lesson learned came flooding back.

My ‘Indian Phase’ was a time that was full of learning, enthusiasm and excitement. We had been in Oklahoma for about 2 years; so we were settled in but still exploring. By this time my studio was up and running and my husband had already discovered my red clay and I was using it in my studio. Above is the first pot I ever made with my new clay. Notice the Indian motifs.

Oklahoma is Indian country, rich in Indian history and my surroundings started to influence my pottery.

Between the ‘Trail of Tears’ and the Indian war with the United States, this part of the country was actually Indian Territory before it became a state in 1907. Not having lived among Indians before, Indian history naturally became something I wanted to explore - and what better way to explore then with my pottery.

Wanting to honor the local Indians by including their designs on my pots, I started looking for pottery that the local Sac and Fox tribe had made. I searched and searched and wasn’t able to find anything. I found this rather odd since didn’t all Indians make pottery back in the day? Well, yes and no.

Volunteering at the Lincoln County Museum around this time, I met a woman who was very knowledgeable in the local Indian history and she explained why I couldn’t find any pottery made by the Sac and Fox tribe.

The Sac and Fox is a Woodland tribe from the North. Pottery was never their thing.

Yes, they are in Oklahoma now, but they were originally from the Wisconsin-Michigan area and became transplants to Oklahoma as a result of wars with the United States. They were hunters and gatherers, and although they made some pottery, they considered it a liability because it was heavy and cumbersome to carry.
All foods are displayed in historically based containers - wooden bowls, bark containers, turtle shells, baskets, gourd containers, pottery, and/or trade brass, copper, and iron kettles.

She directed me to a poster that showed some of the designs the Sac and Fox tribe used on clothing and shoes. As you can see their designs incorporated the flowers and foliage that they associated with in the northern woodlands.
As I learned the history of the local Indian tribe, as well as other tribes transplanted to Oklahoma, my Indian pottery naturally took on a whole new look and feel.
Like anything else creative, pottery is a way to express whatever feeling we are experiencing in the space of time that we allow those feelings to exist. In writing this post I was amazed to see how much my Indian pottery had changed once I had explored my subject. Knowledge is quite powerful.

mission: to explore, create and inspire!


  1. Great post. I found it interesting that you were able to research the history of the tribes in your area, and then use what you learned in your pottery. I so admire people who can create things!

  2. This is fascinating. In graduate school I spent a lot of time learning Native American history so this really appealed to me! I love seeing the process of inspiration behind your art.