Nathan Youngblood | Black Carved Jar
Nathan Youngblood

born 1954
Resides in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico

Biography      Statement      Ask the Artist      From Earth to Object
Nathan Youngblood is a traditional potter, who work in the Santa Clara Pueblo near Santa Fe New Mexico. He's won more than 44 awards from the Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, including Best of Class, Carved, Best Traditional Jar, and Best of Class, Undecorated. He lectures on pottery techniques throughout the West and has been profiled in a number of local and national publications.

When he started making pottery in 1972, he was the sixth generation of artists in his family to take up the craft.


Statement

Be prepared to live your craft. To create quality work you must deliver 80 hour weeks and many years of devotion.


Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

I search publications. I also visit museums. Often I will walk away from a project to clear my mind and return with an answer.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

Being a bit of a perfectionist, no one else can achieve the effect I desire so I do all of my own work.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

Once in a while I will do lectures, but no formal teaching, nor do I take on apprentices.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

It has to be the time when a pot has cooled and I get to take the first look at the piece.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

Patience

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

My mother, Mela, told me years ago that she and one of her sisters collected wet cow pies and formed them into large flat bricks. When these were dry, they were used as fuel for firing pots. Today I use building lumber purchased from a store for fuel. In old photos of my great-grandmother, Sara Fina Tafoya, firing pots, she used rocks to hold her pots up to allow for wood to burn underneath. Today I use empty fruit cans and metal milk crates. The crates keep the wood off the pots and help prevent scratching of the finish. There really are too many to list, but these 2 things are most noted.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

Be prepared to live your craft. To create quality work you must deliver 80 hour weeks and many years of devotion.You cannot make the clay do something it doesn't want to do. The clay has a time table of it's own.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

You cannot make the clay do something it doesn't want to do. The clay has a time table of it's own.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

The dampness of the clay.

The curvature of the pots.

The dust you breathe when you sand.

The ring of a pot when you sand it.

The indentations of the designs.

The heat of the fire.

The smell of smoldering manure.


Cheryl Williams "Toots" Zynsky