1973-01 Maricopa Long-Necked “Scalp Jar”

Maricopa long-necked “scalp jar,” signed Vesta Bread.

Vesta Bread is noted in Arizona Highways (1974: 23) and discussed by Allan Hayes (2006:150-152). Pictures of Vesta Bread holding a similar “scalp jar” and a second picture of her firing pots taken by Bill Carlyon are on file. Carlyon (see 1993-05) was a friend of the potter and says she was born in 1912 and died in 1976. Although the recent pamphlet Maricopa Pottery (Chenoweth, n.d.) says modern Maricopa pottery is fired in kitchen ovens, Bill Carlyon says that Vesta Bread fired all of her pots in a traditional outdoor fire fueled by wood and bark. He provided me with a photograph of Vista Bread organizing such a fire.

A discussion of Maricopa pottery at the Heard Museum in Phoenix notes that:

“The story of Maricopa pottery is one of successive revivals, as pottery transformed to serve the home differently.  Traditionally, Maricopa pottery was used in the home for cooking and for the storage of water and grains.  When metal utensils replaced pottery in the late 1800’s, potters decorated their work and sold it primarily to tourists visiting the Phoenix area.  During the early 20th century potters found that falling prices did not repay the hours of work the invested.  A potter might sell a small piece to a trader for 5 cents and the piece would be resold for 20 cents.  In the late 1930’s potters formed the Maricopa Pottery Collective with the goal of raising the quality of work and commanding higher prices.  Today (2018) there are approximately eight Maricopa potters.  The Pee-Posh Project is working to generate interest among young Maricopas in the pottery tradition.”