Married to Donald Maha, they have 2 children and 3 Grandchildren. She is a professional cook at the First Mesa Elementary School. Barbara's interest in pottery making began in her 20's. She observed and watched her Grandmother, Vivian Mumvewa make beautiful traditional Hopi pottery.
Her Grandmother was taught by her Grandparents in traditional Hopi Pottery methods. The clay for the pottery is collected from the side of the Mesa below her villages. It is dried and cleaned and worked to the right consistency, then is stored in flour sacks and laid on the desert sand to draw the water out of the clay. Her pottery is made through the coil method. Smooth gourds are used to form the shape of the pottery.
Then smooth rocks are used to sand the finish smooth. Natural dyes made from plant and minerals found on the reservation are used for the colors.Designs are painted on the pot with fine brushed made from Yucca plant leaves. Her traditional Hopi designs represent rain, clouds and the 4 directions. Each completed pot is fired with sheep dung in an open pit fire for several hours, then allowed to cool.
Each item is signed by the artist. Many hours of preparation go in to making each individual pottery piece. Each piece is unique and is made out of natural clays and pigments from the Hopi lands. This is a time honored tradition handed down through the generations. The clay for the pottery is collected from different areas around the Hopi Nation.White clays and varying shades of red to pink are commonly collected. There is also a rich dark red clay from the Wingate formation. It takes up to several weeks to prepare the clay and get it to the right consistency for making the finest pottery. When the clay is just right, the artist will make clay coils to form the shape of the pottery. The pottery is allowed to rest and harden.
Smooth rocks are then used to finish and refine the surfaces of the pottery. This is done several times using different rocks until the surface is smooth and glossy and ready for painting.
Natural Dyes and pigments are used to make the dark lines on each piece. The Hopi harvest a dark green plant with yellow flowers. They boil the leaves until it becomes a thick syrup which is then cooled and poured into corn husks. It is placed outside in the sun until it hardens into a "rock". The "black dye" rocks are collected and stored until needed.
To use, the artist chips off pieces of the rock into their grinding stone. A small amount of water is added to the crushed dye to achieve the right consistency for the pottery paint. When fired this dye turns dark brown. Various rocks are collected, crushed and mixed with water to make other black, brown and red dyes. Sometimes several colors are mixed.From black rocks that appear to be a hematite to various colors of sandstones each artist has their special place to collect the plants and rocks they need to make their beautiful pottery. Paint brushes are made from yucca plant leaves. Individual fibers are separated then chewed to soften.
The artists makes their brushes to many different sizes and tips. It takes many hours to design and paint the traditional Hopi symbols and images on each piece.
Pottery is fired in a traditional Hopi fire pit surrounded by pottery shards to protect it during the firing process. Sheep dung and sometimes firewood is placed around the pottery and then lit. It takes several hours for the fire to burn down and the pottery to cool.There is alway excitement to see how well the pottery fired. The fired pottery is removed, cleaned and blessed and is ready for use in the home or for your enjoyment. Our gifts are inspired by love and created by talented Artisans who express sacred beauty thru their art. The item "Native American- Hopi sunflower seed pot by artist Barbara Polacca #BP512" is in sale since Thursday, November 26, 2015. This item is in the category "Collectibles\Cultures & Ethnicities\Native American\ US\1935-Now\Pottery". The seller is "sacredmountainco" and is located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. This item can be shipped worldwide.