“Triple Water Jug with the Bear Song and Zig Zag clouds” Navajo Pottery
Lucy Leuppe McKelvey is a self taught Navajo potter who received a little help from Hopi-Tewa friends. It has taken her 30 years to learn to make her beautiful pottery and is glad that all of her daughters are fine potters in their own right and that one of them is taking it up as a career even though she has a college degree. She has been trying to make Navajo pottery evolve up into a fine art going up and above tradition while still using native techniques and home refined materials that are all natural. Most of the designs are adapted from Navajo sand painting designs, rug and basket designs, and the ancient pottery designs from the ancient ruins that are so numerous in the area that she grew up in. This is a very unique shaped pot that was quite difficult to make. It was quite a challenge to make three pots connected together. The bottom connections of the pot are hollowed out so that air or liquid can flow from each section to the other. Lucy likes the challenge of making something very difficult and hard to accomplish by pushing her skill and experience to the limit. After the pot was coiled she then had the difficult task of figuring out how to design the pot to make the designs flow and curve to fit the three sections of the pot and tie it all together with designs. Bears are special to Lucy because as a very small child her and her younger cousin were herding sheep up on the mountain not too far grom her grandfather's hogan. A bear came out of the forest and threatened the sheep and terrified the two young girls. One stayed behind with the sheep making noise, and throwing rocks and sticks while the other ran to get their grandfather. One would think that grandpa would bring his trusted gun and shoot the bear. But instead, he brought his ceremonial bag of the sacred corn pollen that is used in all the ceremonies and in morning prayers as the sun is rising. He said not to worry because he knew the bear's song. Their grandfather approached the bear chanting the bears song and walked up to the bear to sprinkle corn pollen in front of it as he sang. The bear got up on his hind legs and acknowledged the song and the sprinkling of the sacred corn pollen. When the song was finished the bear got back down on all fours and calmly lumbered off in to the forest doing no harm to the sheep.