About the Artist:
Navajo artist Tom Vail, Jr., along with his children William "Skeeter" Vail, Loveitha Vail-Sanchez, and their spouses Geraldine Vail and Ray Sanchez produce horse hair pottery. They pour a ceramic white slip substance into a mold, and it forms itself into whatever shape of pot that they decide on making. Afterward, they pour out the excess slip and let it set to dry. The ceramic ware is then cleaned and polished. They heat up the ceramic ware in a kiln and then randomly toss authentic hair taken from the mane (thin lines) or the tail (thick lines) of a horse on the heated pottery. The resulting carbon being drawn into the surface of the pot creates the wonderful designs and patterns. Finally, they clean the finished pottery with a dry material and the finished product is a unique marbleized flare styled pot. This process of art is very hazardous and time consuming.
When asked why they do this, they all agreed and replied, "We enjoy not knowing what designs will form on the piece itself until after the horse hair has burned into the ceramic." They sign their pottery as Tom Vail, Jr., Skeeter & Gerie Vail, and Loveitha Vail-Sanchez.
Dogbotz Boneyard has collected the ceramics of the Vail Family not only because of the innovative, playful and unusual artistic techniques involved in the creation of horse hair pottery but also because of the portrait-like positioning of the animal subject, rendering it with a very animated feel. In addition, the traditional tribal etchings, colored or not, and use of gemstones such as turquoise to decorate the piece provide an overall eye-catching composition. And so, from our Dogbotz Boneyard Gallery of Art for your own personal collection, we present Tom Vail, Jr.’s Standing Bear.