Sunday, September 21, 2008

Decorating with Native American Pottery

Native American art and crafts are found abundantly in fine homes all over the country. This is especially true in the American Southwest, where a variety of Native American Tribes continue to create genuine authentic Native American crafts such as art, sculpture, pottery, rugs, baskets and more.

Indians created their pottery by firing clay and in the beginning, these simple pots had no decorative designs. Clay pots were used for carrying and storing liquids, grains for cooking and preserving seeds for planting. Eventually, Native Americans began to decorate and embellish their pottery with nature, animals, people, gods and geometric designs. Pottery began to be used in ceremonial rituals and burials.

Today, Indian culture in the Southwest is thriving and has remained virtually unchanged, unlike anywhere else in the country. Many tribes in New Mexico and Arizona continue to produce authentic arts and crafts that reflect their culture is alive and strong. Much of the Pueblo Indian tribes in the Southwest have not integrated or intermarried with Caucasians. They have remained segregated on their reservations, which has preserved their culture and traditions.

Authentic Indian pottery has never been created using a potter’s wheel. Pots were made slowly by hand, using the method of coiling and pinching. The pots were smoothed to create burnished backgrounds for designs. Pigments from boiled plants and finely ground metallic rocks were used to make paint for decorating the pots. Chewed twigs or yucca fronds were used to make brushes. Pots were hardened in an open outdoor bonfire. These methods are still used today.

Southwestern Native American pottery is valued as fine ceramic art. Complex geometric patterns are painstakingly painted by free hand. Some of the best women potters are recognized world wide and serious collectors of Indian art pay top dollar for these amazing works of art. Pottery has become a valuable source of income for economically challenged Native Americans.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rustic Designer Furniture

Some of the most beautiful homes across the country are filled with custom handmade rustic furniture, lighting and decor. These designer furnishings can also be found in fine hotels and lodges in many of our national parks.

Rustic or western style furniture is inspired by the rugged beauty of the wilderness, our early American history and Native American art. Much of the raw material used to make rustic decor is indigenous to America, such as reclaimed weathered barn wood, burl wood, pine, Aspen and willow.

Some of the most stunning and unique wood furniture is made from burl wood, which is actually a fast growing, abnormal growth found on some trees. This occurs as a result of environmental stress or damage caused by a fungus or insects. Burl wood is highly valued by artists and furniture designers because of its unique shapes and ring patterns. Most burl wood is collected from trees that have already died. It can also be removed from healthy trees that develop large offshoots which can cause additional stress and eventually kill the tree.

Reclaimed weathered barn wood is another popular material found in rustic furniture and decor. This wood has a rich, unique finish with every piece looking different. It also has a history, one can only wonder what stories this wood could tell if it only had a voice. Rustic decor made from reclaimed barn wood brings a piece of the past into your home.

Another way to customize rustic furniture that makes it one of a kind and unique to you is supplying your own material for upholstering things like benches, chairs, sofas, bar stools, etc. Many designers that offer custom made furniture will allow you to send your own material for the piece at no additional cost.

Many antique items found on old ranches such as wagon wheels, tractor seats and barbed wire can be used to create rustic decor. Wrought iron forged by a blacksmith is another common material found in rustic furniture and lighting. Products made using wrought iron are usually very sturdy and can last for decades. The care and craftsmanship that goes into handmade rustic furnishings make these products a worthwhile investment.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Decorating With American Folk Art

As Americans, we have a colorful history that embraces family traditions. Our ancestors, who all came here from abroad, were for the most part, hard working people wanting to explore and provide a better life for themselves and their families. Life was hard and many people came from humble beginnings. With the help of strong determination and strong family bonds, American’s persevered. American folk art depicts family life and traditions in early America.

One such artist that draws inspiration from American folk art is Jim Shore. Jim was raised in South Carolina. His grandmother was a master quilter, who influenced Jim’s appreciation of the skill and patience involved in creating the intricate designs of hand made quilts. He actually began collecting quilts, and the folk scenery depicted in these fragile works of art became the inspiration for the collectible figurines in Jim Shore’s Heartwood Creek Collection.

Jim Shore started his professional life as an engineer, although art was always his passion. He sculpted and painted whenever he could and eventually founded Designs Americana. After meeting the right contacts at an art show, Jim’s company grew to over 350 employees and had more orders than they could fill. In order for Jim to be able to focus on the creative and artistic side of the business, he partnered with Enesco, a leading marketer of gifts, collectibles and home accessories. Jim has also won several national awards from the National Association of Limited Edition Dealers, including Artist Of The Year among others.

Jim Shore Heartwood Creek Collection collectibles make great gifts. They go great with many decor styles such as American country, rustic, primitive, colonial and Victorian . He makes great seasonal designs, including traditional, old fashioned Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and Halloween. Jim Shore designs collectible figurines, dinnerware, home accents and accessories and more.

Whether you’re looking for a special gift or adding to your own collection, Jim Shore collectibles add a colorful country charm to your home. The intricate detail of the traditional scenes and patterns carefully painted on each figurine bring American folk art alive.