Are you a interested in the world of ancient pots and what it takes to make them?
Come join me at this year Southwest Kiln Conference, Blanding, UT - September 24-26, 2021
Watershed Workshop May 2018. Boulder, Colorado
I can’t thank you enough for your professionalism, patience, and passion. I love that it was all shared with these kids. Your impact will resonate with them for years to come. Selfishly, this was a dream come true for me as well. When I saw your work I said to myself, “I need to know about this. I need to be a part of this.” Your trust and open spirit has allowed me to realize those wishes. Thank you so so much. - J. Osgood, Watershed School Instructor
4oth Annual Colorado Council of Professional
Archaeologist Meeting, Longmont, Colorado
March 8-11, 2018
"Recent Research Regarding the Early Ceramic Period of Northeastern Colorado Symposium Organized by Jason M. LaBelle Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology Department of Anthropology Colorado State University"
Early Plains Ceramics: Shape, Size and Surface Application - Cherylene Caver
Abstract: Many questions about the manufacturing processes of Early Plain’s ceramics can only be answered by authentic replication in an applicable environment. Through experimentation Cherylene Caver has expanded her knowledge of geographically relevant clays, feasible manufacturing methods and the endless variables produced in an open air firing. The jars unusual attributes, which include it’s extremely large size, conoidal shaped bottom, shoulder-less wide-mouth shape and cord impressed surface application are not readily learned or easily achieved. This specialized vessel undoubtably had a specific use and must have rated extremely high in functional importance to justifying its somewhat complicated manufacture. Now that the pot has returned, what clues does it bring forth in understanding the past and the people who made it?
Come see me and my pots at the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, Blanding, Utah on April 23,2016.
Many pieces from this websites "Gallery" page will be available for sale as well as several new pieces.
For last minute updates on the show- join my email newsletter on the contacts page.
Museum Showing through the end of December - 2015!
October 10th - Ancient Pottery: A Conversation of Colorado's Early Inhabitants and the Craft of Ceramic Replication.
Informal demonstrations of clay processing, vessel formation, and the application of slips, organic and mineral paints.
Ft. Morgan Museum - Downstairs Gallery, 414 Main Street, Ft. Morgan, Colorado
Something New - Pieces fired at 2015 Southwest Kiln Conference in Safford, Arizona
In my experimental world of ancient pottery replication, the only way to figure some things out is by keeping an open mind and taking a lot of chances, albeit educated chances. The pieces I took to this years kiln conference were created with this mindset. (see www.swkiln.com for more photos)
In regards to the Black-on-White pieces, fired in a trench kiln in a limited-oxadizing atmosphere, the large Gallup bowl was my first real success using iron based mineral I sourced for the paint versus the organic Bee Plant paint I have been using for years. On the mug I used the standard organic paint but on an unslipped body clay.
The bowl, pitcher and feather box in the bottom left photo were "suppose" to turn out Black-on-Red (small photo bottom right is prior to firing). They had been coated with an iron rich slip and then painted with mineral paint, all that I had personally sourced. Explaining what I think happened is way too long of a discussion for here, never the less, I am quite intrigued by the results.
July 2015 - What's it worth? A.k.a. the value of beauty.
"When can I buy one of your pots?"
This is what people started asking me a couple years ago. My response, "I have no idea." It had not been on my mind. I had been so transfixed and overwhelmed with the people of the pots and the processes, that it hadn't occurred to me that someone might want them.
What is the "salable value" of a pot? About 1500 years ago, the value would primarily have been based on the usability of the vessel; are there any cracks, how fast does it weep, how strong are the walls and how much will it hold. The top consideration at that time... 'Can we use it?' And all but just a few of my pieces meet this basic criteria.
So why is one mug $50 and another $300? They are both authentically made. They both have the same ingredients, same labor, and same attention to detail.
There is something about perfection, beauty, a job mastered beyond the common population's capabilities. Prehistoric people would have experienced this. Vessels of many potters would have been taken from a completed kiln firing and one piece would have caught everyone's eye. That piece would have set the standard for all the others. It would have demanded a higher trading value. The prestige of that potter would have also risen, her pots becoming more and more valuable.
When I want to "trade" a piece, my second consideration (only to the soundness mentioned above) is did the clay, water, paint, fire, air and ME interact in the utmost way to produce a very desirable pot ascetically. Does it have a nice feel both in weight and surface finish? Are the whites clean and clear? Are the blacks dark, even, robust and showing no sign of burn out? Are there smoke clouds, oxidation stains, paint transfers, or shadowing? Were the clay, paint and water free of unknown contaminants?
Some people will say, "Well that $50 mug you made, I like it because it looks old."
When you go to a museum and look at a collection of hundreds of ancient pots about 2% of them are pristine. Those are the pots of envy that would have fetched an elevated trade. The other 98% are at all levels of useable. Slapped up walls of grey with uneven rims, a smudge, a dimple, a fat line by a skinny one, a fingerprint, a smoke cloud, crappy paint, some that are under fired and some that warped. Production done much quicker than today, was almost always based on need. But all of them are old, even the pristine ones. Since the majority of the pots we see are average, we start to associate that with the look of old.
I really think what people are saying, or trying to say is, "I like the ones that look like everyday, like existence."
There are only a few of us who like to produce pots in this most demanding, physically and mentally, authentic way and because we choose this path, we are subject to the same standards as the ancients. But wait... that's not completely true. We have temperature-controlled workrooms, cars used for traveling to places where higher quality clays exist, the ability and time to be very picky about the wood we use and to size it perfectly with a chainsaw. (I know of no potter today who cuts his or her fuel with a stone ax.) Because of these luxuries, we are bound to have more pristine pieces. There is even times when the modern potter starts to produce an authentic "something" that would have been do-able back in the day, but almost certainly never was.
So what does this all mean?
I can produce new, high quality authentic pieces. I have also been known to produce new more rustic pieces of everyday existence. Some of my pieces look like the best potter's best piece the day it came out of the kiln and some of my pieces don't. Bottom line, they are all authentic and you get to choose which piece makes your heart sing. Which piece speaks to you from the past?
These authentic mugs (Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, Utah) show the wide range of "pristine" characteristics achieved.