Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Huichol and Mata Ortiz Ornaments

The Heard Museum shops carries a select number of Huichol and Mata Ortiz art. This year Huichol artisans have created bead covered bell ornaments. These ornaments, known as Corazon de Vida "Heart of Life", are traditional emblems of prosperity and health for the household. The embroidered figure represents children. The small folded cardboard pieces represent sandals, signifying a yearly sacred pilgrimage that the Huichol make to a place called Wirikuta ("field of flowers"). The beadwork over the bell represents images from Huichol religion. Tradition states that you tie a new ribbon on the bell each year to renew the prayer.

Huichol "Corazon de Vida" ornament

Huichol "Corazon de Vida" ornaments in large, medium and small

The Huichol Indians live in a remote area of the Sierra Madre mountains of central-western Mexico. They are unique in that they have maintained their ancient religion and traditions in the face of Spanish conquest and conversion. Much of their pan-theistic religion is reflected in their artwork, whether it is in their beaded work, yarn paintings or embroidery. Most often represented are the deer (god of fertility and brother to the Peyote); the Peyote (god of knowledge and the center of their religion); the Eagle (god of life); the Snake (used in prayers for rain); "flower" motifs (appearing in many forms, often depicting the sacred Peyote or the corn flower); and Scorpions (considered to be small messengers from the gods). 

The bell is made with a gourd over which glass seed beads are adhered one at a time with a mixture of wax and pine pitch.  Amazing.

We have small, medium and large bells and each one is completely unique and beautiful. This item makes a lovely addition to the home and a great gift for that special someone you would wish health and prosperity.

Our Mata Ortiz ornaments are made by Rosy Mora. Mata Ortiz is not a tribal affiliation but a town in the area of the the northern province of Chihuahua where the native people have revived a pottery tradition that dates back to the pre-Columbian era. This tradition was long extinct in the region until the 1970's when villager Juan Quezada was inspired by the ancient pot shards that littered the area to embark on a quest to decipher the techniques used by these ancient artists. Through trial and error he developed a new, contemporary style of pottery utilitzing ancient techniques. Mata Ortiz pottery is still hand formed without the use of the wheel. It is decorated with natural pigments and fired in the ground. Decorations range from complex geometric to ancient Mimbres designs.

Mata Ortiz ornaments by Rosy Mora

We will not have these items in our online shop. If you would like us to include one in your online order, just give us a call at 602-346-8190 and we can add them to your order.

Ornament Market Starts November 24!

Update! We will have doll artist Sylvia Begaye (Navajo) here on Friday November 25 with her soft sculpture ornaments! In addition, Peter Ray James (Navajo) will be here demonstrating and selling his ornaments on Saturday November 26. He will be at the North store on Friday and then Sylvia will be at the North store on Saturday. Come down and meet these talented artists!

Sylvia Begaye ornament

Peter Ray James ornament

In addition to our regular selection of original artwork, our annual Ornament Market starts Thanksgiving Day with a wonderful selection of all hand made American Indian ornaments decorating trees and counters throughout the store.

Folk Art carved chicken ornament by Burlin Lansing (Navajo)

Storyteller ornaments by Marilyn Atson (Navajo)

Ornament Market runs through the holiday season but you will find the best selections early on. We have a limited number of all our ornaments and when they are gone- they're gone!

Woven ornaments by Sandra Hamana (Hopi)

Every year we commission ornaments from many different artists with the intent of providing new designs for our collectors and showcasing new artists. We also continue to carry old favorites like our Folk Art ornaments by artists such as Marvin Jim, Burlin Lansing and Ray and Alondra Lansing. We were very fortunate to get a small selection of Alaskan ornaments as well as copper ornaments by Edward Lewis (Tohono O'odham) in his classic knotless netting technique.

Pottery ornaments by Carolyn Concho (Acoma)

For our out-of-town customers, we will have a large selection of ornaments that will be available online at the same time we open our doors to the in-town public at 10am. So on Thanksgiving day, get that turkey in the oven, fire up the computer and shop away! For our in-town customers, the shops open at 10am! The Heard Museum Shops are a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts this season in a beautiful, stress-free environment.

Nickel Silver ornaments by Brad Panteah (Zuni)

This is a sneak preview and just a small sampling of what we'll have.
Please note, we will not take any pre-orders on ornaments so everybody has a fair chance of getting what they want.
Thank you for your understanding and happy holidays!

The details again:

Ornament Market- starts Thursday, November 24 and runs through January 1, 2012
Heard Museum Shops (main store, Heard North, and online)
Shop hours and locations at right

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Indigenous Visions- November 19

Bolo Ties by Sampson Gray, Victor Beck and Henry T. Morris

Our next Indigenous Visions event is coming up Saturday, November 19 from 10am to 2pm! The event will coordinate with the public opening of our new exhibit: 
Native American Bolo Ties

Scheduled to appear in the Main Shop are:

Victor Beck
Sampson Gray
Terrence Campbell
Henry Morris
Ric Charlie
Edison Cummings

These talented artists  will be here to sell their work and talk to customers about their art.

 In the Berlin Gallery, stop by to talk with artist Steven Yazzie.

At Books & More, Diana Pardue and Norman Sandfield will be signing copies of their companion book to the exhibit: Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary Artistry

Musicians Anthony Wakeman and Aaron White will be performing in the courtyard.

At Heard North, Alvin Marshall and Ray Scott will have jewelry and sculpture.

The cafe will have a table out for coffee and cookies and will be having specials for the lunchtime crowd.

Friday, November 4, 2011

How Long Does it Take to Weave a Navajo Rug?

Many people today take their clothing for granted.  The material for today's fabrics are either chemically created, as in the case of acrylic, or, if they are natural materials like cotton or wool, are harvested, cleaned, carded, spun and woven predominantly by machines.  Few people in the industrialized west have personally participated in the process of making fabric.  The Navajo and Pueblo people of the American Southwest keep the tradition of handmade fabric alive in their weaving.  Many Navajo rugs are still hand spun from local sheep and dyed with natural local plants.  Here is a general breakdown of the labor involved in making a hand-spun and dyed rug (3' x 5') taken from the book, Rugs and Posts by H.L. James.


Shearing (2 sheep)
Washing the yarn
Plant gathering (5 colors)
Loom construction
Warping the loom

Total hours



As you can see, this is a time intensive art form, but the results are nothing less than spectacular!

Yei Figures Rug, circa 1960's

Pictorial Rug by Hannah Iron

Cornstalk Yei Rug by Rose Benally

3rd Phase Chief Blanket by Rena Begay