Warning! When entering Cedar Mesa Pottery, via the gift shop, be prepared for a visual assault of the most beautiful Native American pottery collections.
Alright, now that you have been fully warned, let’s take the tour.
Cedar Mesa Pottery is located in Blanding with its beginning around 1981; owned and operated by local, Joe B. Lyman.
The work of his crafts people enable the factory to present to the world both Navajo and Ute artistry. The glass and wooden display cases hold unique pieces signed by each artist, collective pieces so skillfully done that your fingers itch to touch.
Distinctive grey and black pieces containing true horse hair (a personal favorite), ceramics that resemble authentic etched wood, mesmerizing colors, striking designs based on themes.
The tour of the factory first brings you to the “closeouts and seconds” section, lovely pieces that simply did not make the cut through quality control.
Packing and shipping comes next; aisles of plastic wrapped pottery ready to be picked, packaged and shipped to shops, trading posts, residential homes, even San Juan County’s own Welcome Centers carry Cedar Mesa Pottery.
All pieces are available at wholesale and retail pricing; opening an account is quick and easy.
All visitors to the factory are encouraged to take a map and descriptive guide which explains the various processes of pottery making.
Cedar Mesa uses a perfected mixture of clays from New York, California, Tennessee and Texas which is called “slip”. The slip is poured into various molds until the correct thickness is reached; the balance is poured out and recycled.
The kilns come next; pieces are fired within gas kilns at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for three to five hours.
Sealing is a cooling off period of several hours to ensure the pieces do not crack or warp. After a twenty-four hour waiting period, the pieces have any excess clay removed carefully with sponges. The pieces are now ready to meet their individual artists.
Watching the artisans is fascinating, how each one can paint and/or etch each piece quickly, yet so skillfully.
Animal figures emerge: deer, elk, moose, bear, eagle, buffalo, raven and wolf (again, a personal favorite). Themes vary from natural settings (forest, desert) to monumental locations (Monument Valley, Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower), petroglyphic designs, and the famous “End of the Trail” featuring the lone brave on his horse.
By the end of the tour, you will very likely have a shopping list in your mind. Back inside the gift shop, there will be so much more to tempt you; candles, dream catchers, Kachina dolls; and the t-shirt collector has not been forgotten either.
Definitely, if visiting San Juan County, stop into Blanding, visit Cedar Mesa Pottery, and take the factory tour; you will be amazed!
Cedar Mesa Pottery
333 South Main (Route 191), Blanding, UT, 84511
Phone: 435-678-2241, 800-235-7687
Hours of Operation: Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.