Carl Gray Witkop

I have worked with or played with clay all my life. My mother was an artist and potter. In1964 and 1967 I spent summers in Guatemala where I was employed on an archaeological dig at a site called Kaminaljuyu. In the area I collected dozens of shards of Pre-Columbian Highland Maya pottery dating to about 300 BCE to 300 CE.  I was intrigued by the fact that such a variety of style and color had been accomplished without a potters wheel, glaze, or a kiln. In the fall of 1967 I began experimenting with Native-American potting techniques. I met Popovi Da  at a presentation he and his mother, Maria Martinez, gave at Colorado State University in 1968. Experiments with pit-firing led to an effect caused by dropping a hot pot on the lawn. The accidental smoke stains from burning grass were so pretty that I developed a firing method that a little later included the use of hair or feathers in addition to grass, leaves and flowers. These materials all make what is called fire-clouding, black or gray smoke stains on the pieces, that can be burnt out to make lighter markings surrounded by black or gray.  I studied briefly with ceramicist Bill Alexander at Colorado State University, and with Blue Corn at San Ildefonso as well as several other potters. My first wife, Mary Blake Witkop, and I worked together on the process after we were married in 1970. We established the studio in our Pilar home in 1975. Mary and I traded inspiration and influence with Taos Pueblo Potter Bernadette Track and some of her family during the late seventies and later.  After 1981 I worked out of Carson, NM, and then in Texas.  I returned to  New Mexico some years ago  with my second wife, jeweler and fabric artist Olivia Weathers. Bernadette and I still work together offering workshops with micaceous clay.  My work has received numerous awards over the years, and many pieces have been purchased by collectors (and by people you have heard of!)

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