Subtle. We sometimes have to work harder to see the beauty in this pottery which has no bright red or orange colors, no birds, no rainbow bands, no floral or geometric design features. Rather our search for beauty yields textural variations sometimes purposely created, subtle color shifts from natural outdoor firing, finger impressions as decorations, shallow stick cuts at the rim, shallow comb-like impressions visible only by close examination, food or even pitch residues; all contributing to countless variations in patina hues; sometimes to dramatic effect. A large Hopi piki bowl’s beauty is elevated to pure art simply by the happenstance of a long billowy, fog-like fire-cloud at the rim.
Humble and Rare. Micaceous plain-ware is seldom the pottery that is sought out by collectors. It never commands the prices of Zuni ollas with complex painted designs, or Acoma 4-color birds or large dough bowls and storage jars from Cochiti or Santo Domingo. Yet a fine piece of Picuris or Taos historic pottery particularly larger pieces, are often the hardest examples to find.