Formed from yellow clay (“sikyatska”) that turns red upon firing, this large vase features designs based on the outlines of Jean’s feet and hands: the left foot and hand are displayed on one side of the jar, the right on the other. She traced her feet and hands onto paper, cut out the images and used them to outline her design. Between these images are corn stalks representing her clan. Photographs reproduced here show the vase before it was fired and before the corn stalk motif and stippling were added. Jean enclosed an her eight-generation matriarchal family tree when she shipped the vase and noted “vase theme: potters’ journey.”
Jean has developed arthritis, especially in her hands and to a lesser degree in her legs. The deformity and discomfort have become particularly acute this year and (sort of making lemonade out of lemons) she used the discomfort to develop this new design, “something different,” she said. The arthritic deformation of her hands is evident in the pot design.
Although she does not generally date her pottery, she added “04-22-10” to her signature to mark this as the year when arthritis has forced her to be more aware of her physical limitations.
Given the pain in her hands, for example, it is very difficult for her to dig and prepare her own clay. The clay for 2010-08 was dug and prepared by Daryl Sahmie, her nephew (brother Finkle’s son). Daryl obtained the clay from a deposit above the site of the prehistoric village of Jeddito, near the top of a cliff.