Published on November 12, 2010 by John
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Lucy M. Lewis (Born in 1898, Died on March 12, 1992) was a Native American potter from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. She is known for her black-on-white decorative ceramics made using traditional techniques.
Lucy’s pottery is made from a gray claybody and formed by hand using coils. After the pot is shaped and dried, a white slip is applied. Without the slip the mineral paints would run off the pot. Next the design is applied using mineral paints and a brush made from the Yucca plant. This small brush holds more paint and makes finer lines than regular brushes bought at a store. Finally on a day when the weather is right for a firing, a small number of finished pieces are carefully pit-fired. Results are rarely 100%. Some pieces will end up cracked, the background on others will be gray rather than white (these will need to be refired), but a few will be wonderful. After going through this process one learns why these pieces should be well taken care of and carefully preserved. Lucy didn’t speak any English.
Her work is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of the American Indian.
Two extensive biographies have been published:
Lucy M. Lewis: American Indian Potter by Susan Harnly Peterson and Fred Kabotie
A Tribute to Lucy M. Lewis: Acoma Potter by John E. Collins and Dr. Frederick J. Dockstader