Fam­ily Bonds

Pot­tery of the South­west fea­tures works by the Ebelacker fam­ily.

Native American Art - - IN THIS ISSUE -


The pol­ished black pot­tery of Mar­garet Tafoya (19042001) of­ten fea­tures a bear paw de­sign, which be­came her sym­bol. She felt that pat­tern and the rain­bow pat­tern were gifts from her an­ces­tors. She com­mented on the bear paw mo­tif, “It is a good luck sym­bol. The bear al­ways knows where the wa­ter is.” Mar­garet was the daugh­ter of the great Ser­a­fina Tafoya (1863-1949), the ma­tri­arch of a long line of Santa Clara pot­ters.

Pot­tery of the South­west in Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, will fea­ture one branch of her descen­dants in an ex­hi­bi­tion, Ebelacker Fam­ily Pot­tery,

Au­gust 17 through Septem­ber 22.

Vir­ginia Ebelacker (1925-2001) and her son Richard (1946-2010) brought the bear paw mo­tif into their large red­ware ves­sels. Richard be­gan work­ing with clay with his mother and grand­mother as a boy and turned to it se­ri­ously when he re­turned from Viet­nam in 1968. He was one of the few Santa Clara pot­ters who con­tin­ued to make very large pots.

Vir­ginia worked full-time in met­al­lurgy and plas­tics re­search at Los Alamos Na­tional Labs, mak­ing pots in the evening. She turned to pot­tery mak­ing full time when she re­tired.

Richard’s sons, Jerome and Ja­son, carry on the fam­ily tra­di­tion. Jerome’s son, Nick, will be rep­re­sented in the ex­hi­bi­tion by a deeply carved and highly pol­ished black­ware pot.

Ja­son Ebelacker’s large pots are ex­cep­tion­ally time

con­sum­ing to con­struct since he uses tra­di­tional coil con­struc­tion. To al­low them to dry be­fore the next coils are added, he can only ap­ply two or three coils a day. Af­ter tra­di­tional fir­ing he pol­ishes them to a high sheen with river rocks he has col­lected.

The his­tory of Pue­blo pot­tery is rich with fam­i­lies that have car­ried on tra­di­tions for gen­er­a­tions, re­fin­ing them over the years and adding their own cre­ative ideas and tech­niques.

2. Ja­son Ebelacker (SantaClara), na­tive clay and hand coiled pot

1. Vir­ginia Ebelacker (Santa Clara), na­tive clay and hand coiled pot, 12½ x 14"

4. Jerome Ebelacker (SantaClara), na­tive clay and hand coiled pot, 15 x 11¼"

6. Ja­son Ebelacker (SantaClara), na­tive clay and hand coiled pot

3. Richard Ebelacker (Santa Clara), na­tive clay and hand coiled pot

5. Nick Ebelacker (SantaClara), na­tive clay and hand coiled pot, 5½ x 7"

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