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indian seed pot

Indian seed pot
Sedona, Arizona 86336

Clay to Silver: Southwest Indian Seed Pots

Historically, the world has valued containers as both utilitarian and sacred objects. The Southwest Indians stored their life giving seeds over the winter in clay pots, and the pots had a small hole to keep the seeds safe from vermin. The seeds came from their three sacred plants: corn, squash, and beans. At the beginning of the planting season they would need to shatter the clay pot to retrieve the life giving seeds.

The evolution from ancient clay seed pottery to the contemporary seed pot occurred approximately in the mid-1970s. Navajo silversmith, Norbert Peshlakai, and Commanche/Mexican artist White Buffalo are attributed as the first makers of the sterling silver seed pot. Both Norbert Peshlakai and White Buffalo are master jewelers who are always striving for new artistic and technical skills, they both initially began by forming the rigid silver into Pueblo pottery shapes.

Southwest silversmiths are influenced by their history, culture, environment and personal vision and skill levels. For them, the seed pots have become a venue to display and show off their extraordinary talents, and push themselves to higher artistic heights.

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Garland’s Indian Jewelry

3953 N. State Route 89A

Sedona, Arizona 86336

Garland’s Navajo Rugs

411 State Route 179

Sedona, Arizona 86336

Hours: 10am-5pm Daily
Closed Major Holidays

Sizing

Although the best way to test the size and fit of a piece of jewelry is to try it on in the store, we know that is not always an option. In an effort to help you choose the piece that is right for you, we have included measurements of each piece on the website. Here is how our measurements are defined:

  • Height: This is the total height of the item, including the bale for pendants and the wire for earrings.
  • W >

Finding the right size bracelet for your wrist has always been a tricky endeavor, since, unlike rings, there isn’t a standardized, universal sizing chart for wrist size. One reason for this is that we all have different shaped wrists, some of us have round wrists, while others have more oval. Bracelets, like wrists, also have different shapes.

So, while bracelet sizing will never be an exact science, we’ve done what we can to ensure the greatest chance of a comfortable fit. The best thing you can do if you don’t know your wrist size is to take a soft measuring tape and loosely measure the circumference of your wrist at the point you plan on wearing it. Try not to have the measuring tape dig into your skin, as this will result in a smaller than ideal size. Once you have the circumference of your wrist, compare it to the chart below to find the correct bracelet size. If your wrist measures in-between two sizes, we recommend rounding up to the larger size. (ie: if your wrist measures 6.375″- you should shop for size “Medium” bracelets.)

Wrist Circumference

Corresponding Bracelet Size

XX-Small

Extra-Small

Small

Small-Medium

Medium

6.75″ – 7″

Medium-Large

Large

Extra-Large

XX-Large

XXX-Large

You may want to drill down further on the bracelet sizing to make sure the cuff is a comfortable fit. You will notice on our website that we generally list four measurements for bracelets:

  • Cuff Width
    This first number measures across the cuff at the widest point, which is typically the center. If you are considering a wide cuff (2″ or wider), you should consider looking for a bracelet that is slightly larger than what you might normally wear. This is because, like rings, the wider the piece is, the larger it needs to be to fit comfortably. If you have questions about this, please contact us.
  • Inside Measurement
    This measures the circumference of the bracelet on the inside, from end-to-end, not including the opening. So, this is strictly a measurement of the metal on the inside of the bracelet, not the entire circumference (we don’t measure the dimension of the top of the bracelet, as it is the part that touches your skin that is important for size).
  • Opening Size
    This measurement is the distance between the two ends of the bracelet, in a straight line across. Typically this opening is 1″ for most braclets, 1.25″ for larger sized bracelets, but can be smaller or larger for extremely small or large bracelets.
  • Bracelet Size
    This one we kind of made up for our own purposes here in the store, but we’ve found it very helpful. This measurement is the total inner circumference of the bracelet (the inside measurementplus the bracelet opening). We found it helpful to refer to a name (Small, Medium, Large, etc.) than always using numbers. Refer to the chart above for Bracelet Sizes.

Keep in mind that certain bracelets can be adjusted slightly to fit your wrist, but those with inlay or stones all the way around will be damaged if bent. In any case, it is always best to check with with us to see if a particular bracelet is adjustable.

Lastly, have no fear! If you order a bracelet that doesn’t fit, send it back for one that does! We want this to be a positive experience, you should never wear something that isn’t 100% comfortable. More on our return policy here.

Buckles

Sizing belt buckles is pretty straightforward. The height and width are self-explanatory, and the belt width describes the maximum belt width the buckle will fit on.

Concha Belts

We try to include the height and width for the conchas, as well as the buckle (if different), and the width of the belt they are on. The length of the concha belts can be less important, because these belts are often made quite long to accommodate many waist sizes, and then can be shortened to fit the wearer. If you are concerned whether or not a belt will fit you, just ask. We are happy to size most of our concha belts before shipping.

on display through 2008

Indian seed pot

Editor’s note: The Heard Museum provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Heard Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:

Old Traditions in New Pots: Silver Seed Pots from the Norman L. Sandfield Collection

on display through 2008

N orman L. Sandfield recently gifted the Heard Museum his collection of more than 240 miniature silver seed pots. This superlative collection is on exhibit in the Sandra Day O’Connor Gallery, at the Heard Museum. The collection, which Sandfield collected over a period of 28 years, ranges from traditional designs recreated in silver to a truly interstellar outlook with the Star Wars series created by L. Eugene Nelson, Navajo . Sandfield also commissioned works from jewelers who normally do not create containers, and the results are stunning. (left: Harvest Time )

Seed pots were originally pottery items and were created for a far different purpose than beauty: American Indian tribal communities relied on the small pots with tiny holes to safely store seeds for the following growing season. Naturally, as Indians do not recognize a discrete word for “art,” these pots, which seldom exceeded about 2 inches in diameter, were festooned with carvings and designs.

Later, artists began casting these everyday pots from silver instead of throwing them on a pottery wheel. However, the artistry did not suffer; indeed, it’s grown over the years as Native artists stretch their creativity to form ever more beautiful — even whimsical — pots from silver, gold and stones.

A long history of beautiful ceramic vessels inspires the American Indian artists who make silver seed pots. These miniature works of art incorporate design elements from traditional Navajo and Hopi pots, textiles, and baskets, as well as other sources. The artists who fashion them bring together the best of two worlds, taking designs that were previously in the domain of American Indian potters, weavers, and basket makers, and adding to them their modern talent for working with silver, gold, and stones. They bring their experience as designers and makers of fine jewelry to these jewelry-like miniature works of art. While not functional, the pots do contain the spirit of traditional vessels made by the artists’ ancestors. The contemporary silver seed pots continue the ancient heritage of utilitarian storage pots. The miniature silver pots incorporate elegant silhouettes, precise exterior designs, and the occasional surprise of interior decoration or embellishment. (right: Havasupai Seed Corn )

In so many ways this collection is about the artists — their cultures, their talents, and their heritage. My hope is that this exhibition of silver seed pots inspires future artists to create pots with their own stamp of individuality and creativity. May it also inspire future collectors to find some special niche that they can love, collect, document, and eventually share with the world.

–Norman L. Sandfield

Note: This exhibition does not include all of the silver seed pots in the Sandfield Collection or in the book about the collection. Some of the pots are now on long-term display at Heard Museum North Scottsdale, at Heard West in Surprise, and a few others are in the museum’s collection, available for study and loan purposes.

Cultures throughout the world have held vessels in great esteem. Containers are known to hold visible items of value, but they also hold thoughts, prayers, and other forms of sustenance. On the spiritual level they relate to the human need to protect what is sacred, and as articles of everyday utility, they play an intimate and very personal role in our lives. (left: Silver Seed Pot )

The pots in the Sandfield Collection are inheritors of the ancestral traditions of both sacred and utilitarian vessels. In a sense the historic seed pot was both — it was a useful object that held the gestational power of the next season’s sustenance, and thus the life of the people. Corn, squash, and other seeds were stored in these clay pots with their characteristically small openings intended to keep their contents dry. At planting time the pots were shaken or broken to release the seeds.

The Sandfield Collection includes more than 240 miniature silver seed pots by some 70 artists, and the miniatures are in some way an essay on the life of the artists — as the pots reveal their makers’ insights and interests, their environments and experiences, as well as their knowledge of the ancient art of metalsmithing. The recent history of silver seed pots dates to approximately 1975, with the majority made since the 1980s. The silversmiths credited with making the first miniature silver pots are Norbert Peshlakai, Navajo , and White Buffalo, a.k.a. Mike Perez, Comanche/Mexican . As the artists drew upon the classic forms and designs, their work evolved through the art of silversmithing. As Sandfield describes it, “These artists are jewelers first, and the pots are an extension of that field.”

The Sandfield Collection spans the “life” of an artform that continues to grow and delight with the impressive vision and talent of contemporary silversmiths.

–Tricia Loscher, Exhibit Curator

(above: L. Eugene Nelson, Navajo, Star Wars )

Editor’s note: RL readers may also enjoy:

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Heard Museum in Resource Library .

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2008 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc. , an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.