The Kax Herberger Center for Children + the Arts

Navajo Pottery: Beautiful Objects


By Faith Clover and Alan Jim

navajo pot

Based upon a 1996-98 research project conducted by the authors at the Leupp Public School in Leupp Arizona. It was funded by the Arizona Arts Education Research Institute (AAERI).

Native Americans have a long history of making beautiful pottery. In Arizona, it is possible to see Anasazi and Hohokam pots that are at least four hundred years old. The pots were created for daily use and for religious purposes. They were functional.

Continuing the tradition, Native Americans make pottery for daily use, for religious purposes – and now for sale. Many of us can own one of these beautiful art objects.

In this unit you will study the pottery making of the Navajo, learning about processes used by potters, about the philosophy underlying the making of Navajo pottery, and about the purpose for which various pots are made. You will make several pots using basic handbuilding techniques and assess your level of success. You can fire your pot if you have access to an outdoor fire pit or a galvanized garbage can with holes drilled in the sides at regular 6" spaces. You’ll also need fuel consisting of sawdust and dried sheep, horse, or cow dung. But this is optional!

In addition to access to the computer and the Internet, you will need a studio space to work on your pottery away from the computer. You will need to be able to print out sections of the lessons that provide instructions for making pottery.