This is Felipe Ortega, recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as a master of Jicarilla Apache and Hispanic micaceous traditions. Taught by an Apache Woman in 1970, Felipe has been a full-time potter since 1978.
Once dry, the pots are sanded with sandstone obtained from the Santa Fe Formation (Pleistocene) that is present throughout the Chama Valley. Sandstone sanding is followed by a finer grit sandpaper sanding. Felipe Ortega in his backyard.
Once dry, vessel walls are made even by scraping with a metal tool (mica clay is very hard when dry). A clay slurry is added to the surface and the tool is used to scrape wet and dry clay away, knocking down high spots, while adding clay to low spots
This is what an historic clay pit looks like. Note the oval depression between two trees, where clay should be found (rich clay zones occur at the bases of trees where chemical and mechanical breakdown occurs). Also note the large rocks moved to the side of the pit during excavation
This is a photograph of the Vadido Group formation, a quartz-mica schist, Precambrian geological formation (white inclusions are overlying Hondo Formation intrusions). Micaceous clays are found decomposing in situ where the Vadito group is exposed at the surface
Amitayus, the Buddha of Eternal Life, is a form of Amitabha, fourth Dhyani-Buddha. Here he is depicted as a Bodhisattva, seated in meditation on a lotus throne with hand folded on the lap holding the sacred smrta vase. He is attended by two standing Bodhisattvas and is surrounded by Dhyani-Bodhisattvas.