Warmth, creativity, and beauty, innate in colors and form of Indian crafts and art, can enrich the decor of a home a hundredfold through thoughtful placement of objects and paintings. All pieces can add beauty, from basketry through pottery, textiles, ever colorful kachinas, to paintings. Whether a collection is small or large is immaterial, for two or three pieces to an abundance of objects can be effectively manipulated to make a house an attractive home.
Collectors have become more and more precise and particular in their tastes through the years, and as a result can enhance their own surroundings and please the most demanding decorative palate of their friends. If one is greeted by a glass-fronted chest of lovely black pottery gems created by San Ildefonso and Santa Clara artists, he knows his host is warm of heart. These gems may be small, delicately carved and abundant, or they may be of larger size, with emphasis on graceful forms, impressively decorated in matte on a highly polished background, and with only one or two to a shelf, giving room to show their impressive beauty. If one desires more color in his ceramic collection he can turn to the always satisfying soft buff wares decorated with red and black of the Hopi or the red and black on white birds under graceful arches of the Zia puebloans. The recent and immediate present offers many new inducements in ceramics to the collector such as the sophisticated graffito work of the talented Tafoya family of Santa Clara.
A collector may wish to concentrate on one craft of a single tribe, determining that all available space in one room will be given to this expression. Again a sincere interest in the esthetic will lead him to the single best or several of the best craftspeople in this line. The pleasure of acquisition of one beautiful basket at a time, a rare specimen when the rare occasion presents such, is like building a small but memorable edifice marble block upon marble block. And baskets are colorful, often warmly so-in fact they may run the gamut from the richness of natural woods or these combined with the black of martynia in Apache styles to the wide range of colors in Hopi wicker pieces. In the latter there is almost as great variety in native dyes as there is in aniline colors. A fine weave combined with creative design—from a desert turtle in the sharp black and white of a Papago basket to a many colored kachina in a Hopi piece—one or several such pieces can reward one with viewing pleasures for long years.
Great personal satisfaction can come from collecting Southwest Indian jewelry, whether it be the simple and massive style with emphasis on silver of the Navajo, the many small-stone style of the Zuni, or Hopi overlay with its featured soft silver surfaces contrasting with the black of design. Again, the collector may enjoy this type of collection arranged in some treasured spot of his home or may enjoy the pleasure of wearing his treasures, a few appropriate pieces at a time. Again, perfect craftsmanship combined with design reflected in the arrangement of one's favorite shade of turquoise or of stamped or cut-out patterns can make the collector proud of his collection. Kachinas offer one of the greatest pleasures in relation to color, for even a black-and-white banded koshare is red lipped! Other single kachinas often combine the greatest number of colors of any Southwest craft arts. Form and imagination are significant, too, for today the outstanding carvers of these dolls not only create these age-old characters with their unreal masks and detail of ceremonial costuming but also in the most active stances ever known to this craft. One's money is well spent and his esthetic desires well satisfied in the kachina in a dancing position, with muscles participating along with moving arms and legs, or the great bared teeth of an ogre, or the more controlled and sophisticated stance but equally detailed features of a major kachina such as Aholi.
One's surroundings can be greatly enhanced by the collecting of Navajo rugs. They, too, may be used in a special room or throughout one's home-or they may be stored in a treasure chest. Perhaps the greatest satisfaction comes from daily living with these pieces, on the floor, sometimes with several hanging on the wall. Again color can be played with to the individual's satisfaction. Black and white plus soft grays and tans of the Two Gray Hills styles might satisfy one who prefers less color; however, the best of these would be of too fine a weave, therefore too precious for floor use. The many colors derived from endless desert plants softly blended in Chinle and Wide Ruins vegetable dye rugs could be used in the most modern of homes, with many of the sturdier of these pieces serving most effectively as rugs. Then there is the collector who so enjoys Navajo rugs that he uses them throughout his home, and has some extras stacked away in a closet. The former he enjoys daily, consciously and unconsciously; the latter he shares with those friends who share with him the pleasures of fine craftsmanship and creative design.
Thus the individual can have his private collection, to be used or not to be used, but always to be cherished. He can spend a little or much money on it, and it can become dearer to him through the years, both monetarily and esthetically.
- From the Introduction