Modern Seed Jar with Carved and Painted Designs by Susan Folwell


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Susan Folwell, Santa Clara Pueblo Potter

This polychrome seed jar was created by Santa Clara Pueblo artist Susan Folwell. It is a beautiful example of Folwell's work. The vessel takes the low, wide form which we commonly refer to as a seed jar, with the unique variation of a rim that is diamond-shaped rather than round. When viewing the piece from above, the viewer will find that the diamond rim sits comfortably within the vessel's larger circular form.

Folwell's design work is complex and elegant, covering the majority of the jar's exterior and leaving the polished slip visible only in certain areas. A wonderful bird jumps out as the most prominent design, and a band of waves—or clouds, perhaps, according to a knowledgeable pueblo potter—circles the upper section. These designs are both carved and painted, and they extend even around and across the jar's base. The gorgeous blue, gray, white, tan, and maroon tones used here were all made using natural materials, which makes this piece even more impressive.

Artist signature of Susan Folwell, Santa Clara Pueblo PotterThe bottom of the jar is signed Susan Folwell and dated '97.

Susan Folwell (1970- ) Mesa Flower grew up in a family of artists. Her grandmother is Rose Naranjo, her mother Jody Folwell, and her sister is Polly Rose Folwell. Susan recalled, "As a child, I helped my mom. Honestly, it was a chore." Susan loved art but did not plan to be a potter. She studied design and fine arts photography at the Center of Creative Studies in Detroit, MI. She found that it did not give her the artistic freedom she wanted. So, she returned to the clay. Now she takes pride in being an independent artist. Susan uses traditional pueblo methods and materials, and incorporates imagery not just from the pueblos but from a wide variety of Indigenous cultures. Her works have been featured in books and won many awards at Santa Fe Indian Market.

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 Modern Seed Jar with Carved and Painted Designs by Susan Folwell is from a private collection

Reference: Pueblo Indian Pottery: 750 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf

TAGS: Santa Clara PuebloRose NaranjoJody FolwellPolly Rose FolwellContemporary Pottery

Close-up view of a section of this pottery by Susan Folwell.

Susan Folwell, Santa Clara Pueblo Potter
C4654i-susan.jpgC4654i-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.