Caring for Native American Pottery

Whether you purchased Native American pottery on a visit to the Southwest, possess heirloom pottery pieces or are building a collection with bold geometric shapes by Santo Domingo artist Robert Tenorio and world-famous black pieces by Maria Martinez, one thing is certain – each piece is meaningful and it’s important to care for these treasures appropriately to preserve and honor their beauty. The Indian Pueblo Store is a trusted connection to Native American Art and Artists of the Southwest and a respected resource for learning more about Native American Art and how to enjoy treasured pieces for years to come. Please use this convenient care guide to help care for your cherished collection of Pueblo Indian pottery. 

Caring for Native American Pottery


Getting to Know Your Pottery Pieces 

It is important to know the intended use of the pottery. It’s tempting to use Native American pottery for plants and flowers, however if the pottery was not intended specifically for this use it will cause irreparable damage. If you would like to use functional pottery pieces, there are Native American artists, including Ohkay Owingeh artist Clarence Cruz, who are known for creating utilitarian pieces that can hold water and be used for cooking.

Micaceous clay ladle by Clarence Cruz of Ohkay Owhingeh Pueblo


Creating Consistent Conditions 

Pueblo pottery is created in the high desert of New Mexico using the resources of the land. As such, pottery pieces don’t react well to extreme changes in temperature and humidity. Extreme temperature changes may cause cracking so it’s important to keep your pottery out of direct sunlight which can cause fading and damage.


Handling with Care 

When handling your pottery, use clean hands or gloves as natural oils from hands can cause discoloration. Pieces that have handles or decorative adornment should not be carried using the decorative elements. Always cradle your piece with two hands at the base and ensure you familiarity with the surrounding area as a single misstep could cause you to drop your prized possession. 

Elizabeth Medina holding her Pueblo pottery from Zia Pueblo


Protecting Your Investment 

As with any valuable work of art it is important to protect the artist’s signature from damage. In many cases, artists sign or carve their name into the bottom of the pottery along with their Pueblo. Protect the signature by placing your piece on a soft non-slip surface like leather or felt. You can also protect your investment by making note of the artist’s name, purchase date, price and any additional information you may have obtained such as a certificate of authenticity.

Lonnie Vigil signature on pottery from Nambé Pueblo


Cleaning Tips 

For decorative pieces, dust frequently using a soft and smooth microfiber cloth or a paintbrush made from camel or sable hair. Do not use terry cloth or textured fabrics as these may scratch or damage the piece. For utilitarian pieces use warm water or follow the instructions provided by the artist. 

Authentic Pueblo pottery is an exciting and dynamic art form pairing traditional techniques with innovative and stylized designs. Potters who continue to create pots using traditional methods possess an extraordinary level of skill and their pots are valuable works of fine art that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Browse our collection of Pueblo pottery to find your next stunning piece to treasure.



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  • Very helpful. Thanks for the info.

    Lawrence Balthasar

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