Joseph Lonewolf Miniature Seed Pot with Turtle Design


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Joseph Lonewolf, Santa Clara Pueblo Artist

The Mimbres Turtle Design: A Study of Joseph Lonewolf's Miniature Pottery

Joseph Lonewolf, a renowned artist from Santa Clara, breathed new life into the Mimbres turtle design through his exquisite miniature pottery vessel. The centerpiece of this creation is the turtle's shell, which is strategically positioned around the pot's top aperture. The shell is adorned with a rectangular spiral pattern, adding a layer of complexity to the otherwise simple design.

The turtle's features are meticulously crafted, with two circles dotted in their centers to form the eyes. Four legs and a tail, skillfully carved, seem to emerge from beneath the shell, lending a sense of realism to the piece. The turtle, carved in relief, is encircled by the clay's warm tan hue, enhancing the visual appeal of the design.

By Lonewolf's standards, this design may seem uncomplicated. However, its relative simplicity is its greatest strength, allowing the viewer to appreciate the intricate details without being overwhelmed. The piece is a testament to Lonewolf's mastery over his craft, executed with near-perfect precision, and stands as a shining example of his ability to transform traditional designs into contemporary art pieces.

This wonderful miniature seed pot was created by Joseph Lonewolf of Santa Clara Pueblo. Lonewolf came from a family of talented potters, but he still managed to make his mark through his perfection of the carved sgraffito style. In the 1975 publication The Pottery Jewels of Joseph Lonewolf, the artist describes his connection to the Mimbres designs that he often recreated in his own works, saying, "There is really nothing new in what I do. I simply re-discovered some of the secrets known to my ancestors—the Mimbres people—nine or ten centuries ago... And I believe that those old ones are my guides and mentors still, showing me in my dreams and visions how to use the old Mimbres designs in new ways, just as they direct my hands and heart when I work those invisioned [sic] symbols into my pots."

The bottom of the pot is signed Joseph Lonewolf, 35S 1976.

The bottom of the pot is signed Joseph Lonewolf, 35S 1976.

Joseph Lonewolf (1932 - 2014) was a Santa Clara Pueblo potter. Lonewolf was the son of Camilio and Agapita Tafoya, nephew of Margaret Tafoya, and brother of Grace Medicine Flower. Lonewolf accomplished much during his career and received many notable awards, including a SWAIA Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2009 New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Sgraffito Carving: A method of pottery design known as sgraffito carving is relatively new in pueblo pottery traditions. Rather than deep carving, as is more traditional at Santa Clara Pueblo, sgraffito is achieved by scraping the vessel with a sharp instrument to achieve a shallow depth. The pottery is formed in the traditional coil method, slipped with a watery clay and stone polished before the sgraffito carving commences.

Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Joseph Lonewolf Miniature Seed Pot with Turtle Design is from a private collection

Reference and Recommended Reading: The Pottery Jewels of Joseph Lonewolf by Jon Young. 1975 Dandick Publications

TAGS: Margaret Tafoya,  Santa Clara PueblopotteryAgapita Silva TafoyaCamilio TafoyaRick DillinghamJoseph Lonewolf

Wow!  This is really miniature in scale.


Joseph Lonewolf, Santa Clara Pueblo Artist
C4659G-turtle.jpgC4659G-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.