Grandmother storyteller with 3 children and a lamb Last month
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Stella Teller, Isleta , Grandmother storyteller with 3 children and a lamb Last month
Artist: Stella Teller
Pueblo: Isleta
Dimensions: 4 in H by 4 in Dia
Item Number: lklea8091
Price: $ 575
Description: Grandmother storyteller with 3 children and a lamb Last month
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Stella Teller Isleta, N.M.

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Stella Teller

Isleta
Five cubs on a bear storyteller figure, made by Isleta Pueblo potter Stella Teller
 

The daughter of Rudy and Felicita Jojola, Stella Teller was born at Isleta Pueblo in 1929. It wasn't until about 1962 that she first appeared in the marketplace with her earliest pieces. Since then she has earned numerous awards at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show and the New Mexico State Fair for her distinctive storytellers, nativities and non-traditional jars (canteens in particular).

Stella's pieces are notable for their "sleeping eyes," overall light-blue to white coloring and often have strings of heishi beads either inlaid or painted on. Some of her pieces have found their way into the collections of the Peabody Museum at Harvard College in Boston, the Folk Museum in Berlin, Germany, and into the Wright Collection, Walton-Anderson Collection and the personal collections of Frank Kinsel and Peter B. Carl.

Her favorite designs include clouds, rain, turtles, Pueblo dancers and kiva steps. Her favorite styles include storytellers, Nativities, jars, bowls, wedding vases, canteens and effigies.

Stella has passed her knowledge on to her daughters: Chris, Mona, Robin and Lynette, each of whom has gone on to become award-winning potters in their own right.


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Storytellers

Pueblos: Cochiti, Jemez, Acoma, Isleta, Santa Clara

Historically, clay figures have been present in the Pueblo pottery tradition for most of the last thousand years. However, figures and effigies were denounced as "works of the devil" by the Spanish missionaries in New Mexico between 1540 and 1820. Before and after that time the art of making figurative sculpture flourished, especially at Cochiti Pueblo. The forms of animals, birds and caricatures of outsiders and, more recently, of images of mothers and grandfathers telling stories and singing to children have multiplied.

The "storyteller" is an important role in the tribe as parents are often too busy working and raising kids to pass on their tribal histories and the Native American people did not have a written language to record anything for posterity. The closest thing they had to a written language was pottery and the designs that decorated that pottery. So the storyteller's role was to preserve and retell and pass down the oral history of his people. In most tribes that role was fulfilled by men.

The first real storyteller figure was created in 1964 by Cochiti Pueblo potter Helen Cordero in memory of her grandfather, Santiago Quintana. She gathered her clay from a secret sacred place on the lands of her pueblo. Then she hand-coiled, hand painted and fired that first storyteller figure the traditional way: in the ground. Helen never used any molds or kilns to make her pottery.

Helen's creation struck a chord throughout all the pueblos as the storyteller is a figure central to all their societies. Most tribes also have the figure of the Singing Maiden in their pantheon and in many cases, the mix of Singing Maiden and Storyteller has blurred some lines in the pottery world. Today, as many as three hundred potters in thirteen pueblos have created storytellers, and their storytellers are not only men and women, but also Santa’s, mudheads, koshares, bears, owls and other animals, often encumbered with children numbering more than one hundred! Each potter has also customized their storyteller figures to more closely reflect the styles and dress of their own tribes, sometimes even of their own clans.

 
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Pottery Care & Consideration

  • The most obvious tip: Yes, the pots will break if you drop them!
  • Do not expose pottery to water (Inside or outside). Do not wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Dust pottery only with a soft, smooth cloth (no terry cloth or textured fabric). A very soft paintbrush (sable or camel) can be used.
  • Always use two hands to carry your pot: one on top and one on the bottom, or one hand on each side. Be careful with handles, they can be fragile. Do not grip or lift pots by the rim. Take care when wearing jewelry, rings can scratch the finish.
  • Place a piece of felt or cloth between the pot and the shelf to protect the signature.
  • Avoid exposing pottery to extreme temperature changes.

For those who live in "earthquake country" (also good for mischievous pets):

  • Weigh pots down with a small zip lock bag containing sand, glass marbles, rice, etc. Do not fill the pot more than one third full as you want them bottom heavy. Remember to remove the weight before moving.
  • Secure your shelves; make sure they are well attached to the walls. Shelf brackets should be of sufficient length and strength to support the weight of your pottery.
  • Prevent pots from sliding. Consider attaching a small wooden molding to the front of shelves. Line shelves with non-slip material (a thin sheet of rubber foam, Styrofoam sheeting, etc.)
  • If you need assistance with special problems, major cleaning (your grandchild spills ice cream on your pot), restoration or repair (the cat breaks a pot), or replacement (irreparable damage), please feel free to call us.

We hope these ideas help you maintain the beauty and value of your pottery for years of enjoyment.

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