326 West Harmont Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85021-5643 | 877-906-1633
  
Logo home page

Glossaries

Print

All Glossaries Index


Back to the Top




A Back to the Top

Acrylic

is a synthetic paint that is soluble in water and is quick drying. Its versatility ranges from thin wash application to thick impasto. It was first used by artists in the 1940's.


Alabaster

Alabaster is a name applied to a mineral known as gypsum (a hydrous sulfate of calcium). Also called satin spar, it is readily carved, as it is not extremely hard.


Analine dye

a dye or coloring agent derived from coal tar products. Aniline is a major component in the preparation of such dyes, which were introduced to North American Indian peoples ca. 1870.


Analine dye

is a family of synthetic dyes made originally from coal-tar derivative; first synthesized 1857. Earliest known aniline-dyed yarns in Navajo textiles were raveled from commercial cloth and date to the 1860’s. Aniline-dyed, machine-spun yarns were readily available in the Southwest by 1870's, powdered aniline dyes by the 1880's.


Appliques

practice of affixing figures, such as animals and corn to pottery’s surface


Aquatint

an intaglio technique producing subtle tones areas in stark contrast to lines produced by etching, another intaglio technique. Fine particles of resin adhering to a metal plate act as an acid resist. After the plate is immersed in an acid bath, visually textured areas result instead of lines.


Archival

is a shorthand term referencing that all materials utilized in a frame are acid-free or ph balanced to ensure the safety of the artwork being framed.


Artist's proof

is one of a small group of prints set aside from the edition for the artist’s use. Also called “epreuve d’artiste. Prints numbered using Roman numerals can represent the artist’s proofs, which traditionally number approximately 10% of the regular edition


Avanyu

is a horned and plumed serpent design on Pueblo pottery, also referred to as a water serpent



B Back to the Top

Band

is an encircling area of design usually bounded by horizontal framing line.


Base

the bottom of a basket. Bottoms can be flat or round. Rounded bases may be concave, convex, or pointed in contour.


Basket

a vessel or container, the structure of which is usually woven or sewed and consists of rigid or semi-rigid textile materials such as plant shoots, roots, stems, leaves, bark, grasses, and vines.


Basketry

a general term that refers to both the process and techniques of basket making and the finished basket specimen. The three major techniques of basketry construction are coiling, twining, and plaiting. Basketry is constructed by interweaving or sewing two or more usually untwisted elements without the auxiliary aids such as looms.


Batik

A method of dyeing cloth which involves the use of removable wax to repel (resist) the dye on parts of the design where dye is not desired. Batik originated in Indonesia, where its production continues to thrive.


Bear paw design

is found on some Santa Clara Pueblo traditional pottery represented as an imprint.


Bezel

is a ring of metal, soldered to a base, that surrounds a stone and holds it in place.


Bistre

a transparent water-soluble brownish-yellow pigment made by boiling the soot of wood, used for pen and wash drawings ranging in color from yellowish brown to dark brown


Black on black

is a type of blackware pottery finished both by black polish and dull or matte finish usually suggesting design.


Blackware

is any type of black pottery, plain, carved, polished or decorated, made primarily at Santa Clara and San Ildefonso Pueblos. Red clay used to make blackware turns black from carbon released during low temperature and reduced oxygen atmosphere.


Bleed print

is a print in which the image extends to one or more of the edges of the paper.


Blind embossing

is embossing without ink, so that the image is raised but not colored.


Bloom

An oil painting that has been improperly varnished or stored may develop a 'bloom' or film on the surface. This first appears as an opaque blue tinge, which turns white, yellow, and eventually black as the condition (sometimes known as a 'chill') advances


Bon a Tirer print

translates to (good to pull) the “right to print” proof, designated by the artist as the standard against which every print in the edition is to be judged for its aesthetic and technical merits.


Brain-tanned

Leather (moose, deer, elk, antelope, buffalo, caribou or any fur-bearing skin) that is non-chemically tanned and softened using an animal’s brains in a natural process


Bronze

is any of various alloys of copper and tin, sometimes with tin or other metals. It has commonly been used in casting. A work cast in bronze is sometimes referred to as a bronze. It may also refer to the color of bronze, a moderate yellowish to olive brown.


Bundle

a bunch or a number of grass shoots, plant stems, split leaves, or other fine materials used as a foundation in some coiled baskets.



C Back to the Top

Cabochon

stone with a convex surface and a flat base


Cancellation proof

is a print taken from a plate, block, or stone after the image has been effaced at the end of the edition. This is done to ensure that no further prints can be made.


Canvas

is a generic term for fabrics used as supports for painting, which could be woven of linen, hemp, cotton, jute or other fibers. In the twentieth-twenty first century, it refers to a moderate or heavy weave cotton fabric.


Canvas-wrapped board

is a sheet of paperboard wrapped with sized and primed cloth canvas, usually cotton. First made commercially after 1850, it was originally used by amateurs, as it was more economical than stretched canvas or for outdoor drawing.


Carborundum

is a material used for building up a printing surface to create tonal areas. It is applied to the printing surface, sealed and then inked for printing.


Carborundum Etching

A granulated mineral, used for printing to achieve a three-dimensional effect.


Carved

is a deep depression carved in pottery before firing, characteristic of some Santa Clara Pueblo pottery and less frequently on San Ildefonso Pueblo pottery.


Casein

is a paint similar to gouache (opaque watercolor). Casein is in fact a white, tasteless, odorless protein precipitated from milk by rennin and in casein paint, it serves as the paint's binder. According to ArtLex.com, casein is the basis of cheese, and is used to make plastics, adhesives and foods, as well as paint. Artists apply casein paint to paper, as it is too inflexible for use on canvas.


Casting

is pouring molten metal into a mold and letting it harden.


Catalogue Raisonné

classified and numbered book of prints by a particular artist, listing the titles, dates, editions, states and often photographs of all known prints.


Catalogue raisonne

A catalogue raisonne is a book citing all the known works by an artist typically arranged in chronological order. The catalogue raisonne lists titles, dates, and often photographs of all known artworks. In many cases, the artwork's ownership and location is cited as well.


Charcoal

is the dark grey residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen. The resulting soft, brittle, lightweight, black, porous material resembles coal.


Chasing

is a method of engraving silver or other metals with an awl or other pointed instrument applied to the surface by hand, as opposed to punched or struck with a hammer.


Chine colle

is a technique in printmaking in which an impression is made on a surface at the same time as its opposite side is adhered to a heavier support in the procedure. This permits printing onto such delicate materials as riche paper and linen, allowing the plate to produce finer details in the printed image than would normally be possible.


Chromolithography

a lithographic process using several stones or plates—one for each color, printed in register. The result is color prints, to be distinguished from colored prints that have the color hand-applied after printing.


Circa

a Latin term, literally meaning "about.” Its usage represents an approximation in dating a work of art, allowing leeway of about 10 years


Cleavage

"Cleavage" is sometimes used to refer to the partial separation or flaking of paint from a canvas, ground, or other layer of paint. Flaking usually reflects a breakdown in adhesion between the paint layer and the support. The problem may be inherent in an an artist's choice of materials or may result from the deterioration of the glue size in the ground. Such conditions are aggravated by seasonal or artificial climate control changes in temperature and relative humidity. The support expands under humid conditions and contracts under dry ones. As a paint film ages, it loses its elasticity and becomes evem more susceptible to flaking, cracking and cupping. (from Art Lex glossary terms online)


Coiling

class of basket work in which a continuous spiraling foundation is lashed together by whipstitch-like sewing or binding. Coiled basketry can be constructed by spiraling the foundation material in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction, thus producing a spiral structural configuration, or diaper, on the base of the basket and horizontal corrugations on the body or sides of the vessel. Variations in types of foundation and stitches exist.


Coin Silver

is silver melted from hard currency -- 90% silver and 10% copper.


Collage

A picture or design created by adhering such basically flat elements as newspaper, wallpaper, printed text and illustrations, photographs, cloth, string, etc., to a flat surface, when the result becomes three-dimensional, and might also be called a relief sculpture / construction / assemblage. Most of the elements adhered in producing most collages are "found" materials. Introduced by the Cubist artists, this process was widely used by artists who followed, and is a familiar technique in contemporary art. "Collage" was originally a French word, derived from the word coller, meaning "to paste."


Collagraph

A print made from an image built up with glue and/or other materials.


Color separation

A photomechanical graphic process used by commercial artists which separates the primary colors in a color picture. A printing plate is then made for each of the colors (yellow, cyan (blue) and red (magenta) and one for black.


Color trial proof

is printed before the bon a tirer. A color trial proof differs from the edition in the color of the ink that is used. These impressions result as colors are adjusted and tried or “proofed”. Color trial proofs record variations in color and in the proofing of a complex color print. There may be many of them, each differing from the other. At the discretion of the artist, these proofs may be signed "color trial proof, "CTP" or they may be destroyed.


Commercial yarn

is machine spun, usually industrial dyed yarn.


Concho belt

is named after the Spanish word meaning “shell” are round or oval silver disks, which may be stamped with decorative patterns or set with stones. Single conchos are often used for belt buckles or bolo ties. First Phase concho belts are characterized by a diamond slot cut out in the middle of each concho, through which a leather belt was threaded.


Concrete

is a composite construction material, composed of cement (commonly Portland cement) and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate (generally a coarse aggregate made of gravels or crushed rocks such as limestone, or granite, plus a fine aggregate such as sand), water, and chemical admixtures. The word concrete comes from the Latin word "concretus" (meaning compact or condensed), the perfect passive participle of "concresco", from "com-" (together) and "cresco" (to grow).


Condition

Excellent: in pristine condition for its age and type with no structural damage or defacement; no signs of extensive or unacceptable restoration nor is any restoration needed Good: in typical condition for its type and age, physically intact with normal


Conservation

or preservation, repair. The act of preserving or repairing basketry to prevent further loss, damage, or disrepair.


Conservation glass

is designed to block approximately 98%-99% of ultraviolet light, which is the category of light that tends to cause color shifting or fading.


Conservator

a person trained and formally certified in the best methods of preserving and repairing objects, such as baskets.


Conte crayon

is a very hard. grease-free type of crayon named after Nicolas-Jacques Conté (1755-1805), the French scientist who invented it.


Cor-ten Steel

is a type of steel that oxidizes naturally over time, giving it an orange-brown color and a rough texture. It has a very high tensile strength, and in spite of its rusted appearance it is actually more resistant to damaging corrosion than standard forms of carbon steel. It has been used by many contemporary sculptors and architects. United States Steel Corporation says "COR-TEN® is a registered trademark of United States Steel Corporation and can only be used for products produced by United States Steel Corporation or its licensees. COR-TEN® Steel has proven to be an excellent product for bridges, primary structural framing and sculpture."


Coral

was introduced into the Southwest by the Spanish, but was not used until approximately 1938, when traders imported it to Zuni Pueblo. Most comes from the Mediterranean seas, varying in color from white to blood red. It is calcareous skeletons amassed in a wide variety of shapes often forming reefs.


Craquelure

graceful French term referencing cracking occurring generally in the varnish layer of a painting, but can also appear in the pigment layer.


Crazing

is discontinuity or fire cracks in the slip possibly due to uneven shrinkage of the underlying clay.


Crystal

is a rug style with banded patterns in vegetal colors; characterized by use of wavy lines; established in the 1940’s; named for community in east-central part of reservation. Early Crystal rug style contrasts sharply with contemporary crystal style. It has bold, central pattern and border, usually gray, black, white and red.


Culture area

a geographic region in which a number of distinct peoples live, all of whom share comparable but not identical culture traits.



D Back to the Top

Designs

elements of ornamentation such as patterns and motifs that are organized or composed to create order and beauty. Line, shape, size, space, texture, color, balance, rhythm, and proportion contribute to the overall aesthetic effect of a design. Designs may be classified by type, field, layout and composition of patterns or motifs. Types or orientations of design range from naturalistic to representational and geometric to symbolic and abstract. Design field is the background or division of background upon which a design is placed. Layout is the arrangement of a design on the field.


Documentation sheet

is a form identifying the technique employed in making a print, as well as the inks, paper, drawing materials and the size of the edition.


Drypoint Intaglio

A technique in which a sharp needle scratches the plate, creating a burn that yields a characteristically soft and velvety line in the final print.


Dye

is any colorant fixed permanently to fibers. Synthetic dyes, including anilines, are chemically manufactured native dyes. Native dyes come from natural, non-synthesized animal, vegetable, and mineral sources; vegetable dyes make use of plant materials such as leaves, flowers, fruits, twigs, bark, roots, etc.



E Back to the Top

Earthenware

pottery or other objects made from fired clay which is porous and permeable. Earthenware is fired at relatively low temperature, may be glazed or unglazed, and is usually but not always buff, red, or brown in color. Red earthenware is a clay given its color by the presence of iron oxide. A clay body based on ball clay is known as white earthenware. Faience, terra cotta, and majolica are examples of earthenware.


Edition

is a set of identical prints, sometimes numbered and signed that have been pulled by or under the supervision of the artist and are authorized for distribution.


Embossed Print

Intaglio print in which the image is slightly raised, producing a three dimensional effect. Also called inkless intaglio or blind embossing (when printed without ink).


Encaustic

The medium, technique or process of painting with molten wax (mostly beeswax), resin, and pigments that are fused after application into a continuous layer and fixed to a support with heat, and achieves a lustrous enamel appearance. The solvent for encaustic is also heat.


Engobe

A colored slip used in decorating ceramics. They have several distinctive attributes, but are also excellent alternatives to glazes because they are less expensive and less time consuming. Engobes are typically made by mixing water with a claybody in use, then mixing in one or more colorants (e.g. oxides) — in a proportion of dry ingredients to water that is about 1:2 by volume.


Epreuve d'artiste (E.A.)

French term for Artist's Proof


Etching

is a technique in the intaglio family, where the design is bitten into the plate with acid. Ink collects in those etched lines to produce the design on paper. A plate of polished metal, usually copper, is first coated with a substance that resists the acid's action. A design is drawn through the etching ground, allowing the acid to etch those lines to the degree, depending on the time the plate is exposed to the acid. A moistened sheet of paper is laid on the plate before the plate is run through the press.


Excellent

references property without any apparent damage (such as discoloration, tears, abrasion, etc.)


Excellent when inspected independent of framing

mandates an inspection free of framing of presentation materials.


Excellent, as appeared framed, glazed

implies artwork has not been separated from its framing presentation.



F Back to the Top

Fabricate

is constructing a unique object cutting, shaping, hammering, soldering, texturing and stamping.


Fair

denotes property with more significant degrees of damage described specifically in the report.


Fetish

is an object, sometimes but not always of stone with zoomorphic properties believed to be the place where spirits dwell. The fetish can be natural or deliberately shaped or carved. Stone fetishes are used in the Kivas of various Pueblos of the Southwest, and replicas or adaptations of them are used in necklaces carved of turquoise or other materials and sold as jewwelry. The Zuni people are particularly well known for carved fetish jewelry.


Fiber

a semi-rigid element composed of filaments that is flexible enough to be used as a weaving element in the construction of basketry (e.g., beach grass, cattail stem or leaf, etc.).


Finish

the finished edge, selvage, or rim of a basket in which the warp elements are turned down, cut off, or bound in one of several ways: 1) clipped off, 2) self-edged, 3) bent at an angle and bound or interwoven, and 4) composite braided, plaited, twined, or coiled applied finish.


Fire cloud

is a blemish on a pot caused by the pot coming into contact with a piece of fuel, thus being fired at a higher temperature.


Firing

is a heating process by which the pottery vessel is hardened. The traditional technique does not use a kiln, the fuel is simply being piled around the pots and set on fire. A reducing fire excludes fresh air from the center, resulting in pottery that may be black or a gray tone of white. An oxidizing fire allows for a draft of fresh air to permeate to the center, burning the fuel brightly and cleanly, resulting in a red surface or a creamy white, tan, yellow or orange color.


Form

references three-dimensional shape. The form of a basket is limited only by the makers’ abilities and the nature of the structural materials. A basket can be deep with rounded, globular, or flaring side walls (such as a bowl or hat), or it can be flat or slightly concave (such as a plaque or tray). In addition, a basket my have a sharp or constricted shoulder (such as the bottleneck basket, olla or water bottle) A basket's function varies with changes in form.


Fossilized Ivory

is usually walrus task and may have a slightly golden tint.


Foundation

the inner core or structure of a coil in coiled basketry. The three types of coiled foundation are: bundle, rod or splint, and rod-and-bundle. Bundle foundations are comprised of a number of grass stems or other fine materials which yield wide, flexible coils. Rod foundations can be in either stacked or vertical arrangements or in bunched or triangular arrangements. The former creates wide, flat coils while the latter results in narrow, stiff, solid coils. Rod-and-bundle foundations generally have a single rod in the center of a bundle of stems, which results in coils that are thinner and stiffer than the coils with a bundle foundation.


Foundry

is an operation whose business it is to cast bronze sculptures


Foxing

is a brownish yellow, patchy discoloration of paper caused by the action of mold on iron salts, which are present in most paper. Foxing usually results from high relative humidity.


Fused glass

is a term used to describe glass that has been fired (heat-processed) in a kiln at a range of high temperatures from 593 °C (1,099 °F) to 816 °C (1,501 °F). There are 3 main distinctions for temperature application and the resulting effect on the glass. Firing in the lower ranges of these temperatures 593–677 °C (1,099–1,251 °F) is called slumping. Firing in the middle ranges of these temperatures 677–732 °C (1,251–1,350 °F) is considered "tack fusing". Firing the glass at the higher spectrum of this range 732–816 °C (1,350–1,501 °F) is a "full fuse".



G Back to the Top

Ganado

is a rug style with dominant central panel, usually a diamond or double diamond, and at least one border, dark red, gray, black, and white color scheme; established by early 1900’s named for community in south-central part of reservation.


Geometric

a specific type of design in which regular lines, angles, and curves predominate, as in geometry. Geometric designs are a specific aspect of abstract designs which also include amorphous or free-form elements depicting natural shapes through exaggeration, simplification and recomvination. Most basket designs appear to be geometric, due to constraints of basket making techniques. But ethnographic and linguistic data often indicate that these designs are actually stylized or representational patterns and elements that depict objects in the natural world.


Glaze

is a finely powdered mineral substance painted on the surface of a vessel, which melts during firing and forms a more or less glassy coating. The Pueblo Native Americans used this material only for painting the design lines, not for overall waterproofing until as late as 1700. Thereafter, the use of glaze paint was abandoned in favor of carbon or matte mineral paints.


Good

denotes property with small degree of damage described specifically in the report.


Gouache

is water-based paint made to appear opaque due to the addition of Chinese white pigment.


Graphite

A soft black mineral substance, a form of carbon, available in powder, stick, and other forms. It has a metallic luster and a greasy feel. Compressed with fine clay, it is used in lead pencils (though contemporary lead pencils contain no lead), lubricants, paints, and coatings, among other products. Also called black lead and plumbago.


Gun metal finish

appears as a silvery black surface quality yielding a metallic look to the surface coloration.



H Back to the Top

Handspun yarn

is a yarn produced by hand from raw wool, usually in the form of a single ply.


Handwrought Silver

is also called hand-hammered.


Heishi

are disk shapes of shell or stone, often strung to form necklaces.


Historic pottery

is pottery produced after the arrival and influence of Europeans to North America and continuing to the late 19th century.


Hors de Commerce

Translates to "not for trade". These impressions tend to be identical to the regular editioned prints, but their "numbering" shows as "H.C." and were created to use primarily as salesman samples to demonstrate the appearance of a print titled "XYZ" by Miro, Calder, etc. As the number of H.C.'s were not typically documented, those creating fake prints choose to number the spurious prints "H.C."



I Back to the Top

Impasto

is paint applied in outstandingly heavy layers or strokes.


Impression

in printmaking, a single print made from a block, plate or stone; or the act of impressing—the contact between the printing surface and the surface on which the print is made.


Impression number

is the number of a print in an edition.


Incised design

is applied on a pot, before or after firing, by a pointed tool which removed the slip and exposes the underlying clay.


Ingot Silver

is cast into a bar to be worked.


Inlay

is setting a decorative pattern of stones into silver.


Inpainting

Introduction of substance to fill an area of paint loss followed by pigment meant to match the area of loss.


Intaglio

a family of printing processes in which the recessed areas (caused by manual or chemical incising) carry the ink, producing the printed image. Aquatint, engraving, etching, mezzotint and drypoint are all different intaglio techniques.


Interval

the patterned spacing or distance between two warp elements. In plaiting or twining, this interval is described in terms of “over-one (warp element)/under-two (warp elements)”, etc.


Ironwood

is a petrified wood from Mexico, deep mahogany in color.


Ironwood

is a common name for a large number of woods that have a reputation for hardness. Usage of the name may (or may not) include the tree that yields this wood



J Back to the Top

Jet

is a hard, black and shiny form of fossil lignite used for jewelry making, developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Jet was used for beads, fetishes and for inlay.



K Back to the Top

Ketoh

is a leather strap worn at the wrist to protect the skin from the snap of a bowstring. One of the earliest utilitarian objects to be decorated with silver and then silver and turquoise, also referred to as a bow guard.



L Back to the Top

Lapis Lazuli

is a deep blue semi-previous gemstone of lazurite.


Lazy line

is a yarn produced by hand from raw wool, usually in the form of a single ply.


Lazy stitch

results in rows of eight to twelve beads


Light fastness

is the ability of a dyed paper or an ink to resist changing color when exposed to light.


Light sensitivity

is the ability of a substance or surface to change chemically when exposed to light.


Line break

is a small interruption in the band design. It may be present only in the framing lines of the band or the entire band design may be broken by a short gap. Also referred to as a ceremonial gap.


Lining

is a conservation step taken to support a deteriorating fabric/canvas, usually employing a high quality Belgian linen that is married to the original substrate.


Linoleum Print

Type of relief print in which the image is cut into a piece of linoleum.


Lip

is a tiny flare at the opening of a vessel to reduce dribble during the pouring of a liquid


Lip

is a tiny flare at the opening of a vessel to reduce dribble during the pouring of a liquid.


Lithography

was discovered in Germany by Aloys Senefelder in 1798. Printing technique in which the image areas on a lithographic stone or metal plate are chemically treated to accept ink and repel water, while the non-image areas are treated to repel ink and retain water. Because the printing surface remains flat, lithography is sometimes referred to as a planographic technique.


Lost Wax

is a method of casting metal by making a wax model, coating it with clay to form a mold, and leaving small holes for the wax to escape when heated. Molten metal is poured into the mold, filling the space left by the "last wax" also called cire perdu.



M Back to the Top

Malachite

is a variegated green mineral carbonate of copper.


Maniere Noir Lithography

is a lithographic technique for stone. The surface is covered with a solid layer of tusche and the image is produced by scraping parts of the tusche layer away.


Maquette

is a small preliminary model, for a work of sculpture


Marble

is a metamorphic rock resulting from the metamorphism of limestone,composed largely of calcite. It is used extensively for sculpture and is capable of taking a high polish.


Masonite

First invented in 1924 by William H. Mason, it consists of a type of hardboard made from wooden chips. These chips are blasted into long fibers with steam, then they are formed into boards that are subsequently heated to form the finished boards. No glue, resins or other binders are used. In the 1930's and 1940's artists and hobbyists began to use masonite for a painting surface.


Mata Ortiz

is a small village in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, less than 100 miles (160 km) from the US-Mexico border. The community, population 2,000, is one of the designated localities in the municipality of Casas Grandes, one of several such pueblos in a wide, fertile valley long inhabited by indigenous people. The ancient ruins of Casas Grandes are located nearby. Mata Ortiz has recently seen a revival of an ancient Mesoamerican pottery tradition. Inspired by pottery from the ancient city of Paquimé, which traded as far north as New Mexico and Arizona and throughout northern Mexico, modern potters are producing work for national and international sale. This new artistic movement is due to the efforts of Juan Quezada, the self-taught originator of modern Mata Ortiz pottery, his extended family and neighbors. Mata Ortiz pots are hand built without the use of a potter’s wheel. Shaping, polishing and painting the clay is entirely done by hand, often with brushes made from children’s hair. All materials and tools originate from supplies that are readily available locally. The preferred fuel for the low temperature firing is grass-fed cow manure or split wood. Each of these characteristics derive from the ancient pottery traditions of the region, however Mata Ortiz ware incorporates elements of contemporary design and decoration and each potter or pottery family produces distinctive individualized ware.


Medite

is a green building material produced by the US-based Sierra Pine Company. It can be used as an environmentally-friendly substitute for plywood or particleboard in any interior, non-structural application. Medite® is similar to medium-density fiberboard (MDF) in that it is made from finely shredded wood fibers rather than wood chips or sawdust. The fibers are tightly compressed and bound with resin to form a densely constructed sheet of wood.


Medium

Material employed by an artist to convey his/her artistic expression.


Mezzotint

is an intaglio image-making technique in which the plate is worked from dark tones to light. The surface is first roughened with a mezzotint rocker or roulette so that, if inked, it would print a rich, solid black. The areas that are not to print are then burnished and flatted to produce various grays and white.


Micaceous clay

is clay containing mica, characteristically used by potters at San Juan, Taos and Picuris.


Mineral paint

is a substance used for decorating pottery formed of a finely powdered mineral substance such as iron oxide, mixed with water and perhaps even including some carbonaceous material (as a binder).


Mixografia

is a fine art printing process allowing for the production of deep textured prints with very fine surface detail. The artist begins with any solid material or combination of materials on which he/ she incises, impresses, carves, collages or guilds up a matrix. From the matrix, a sequence of forms are then molded, one from another, resulting in a highly sensitive cast copper printing plate in reverse. The plate is inked using all the colors applicable to that print. Moist paper pulp is then laid onto the surface. Both plate and pulp are forced through the press, while transferring the color to the paper. The plate is re-inked each time a print is pulled. Because of the extreme pressure at which these prints are produced, the ink is absorbed into the paper, giving them a fresco-like quality.


Monotype

technically a print pulled in an edition of one, from a painting made on a sheet of metal or glass. Frequently referred to as a monoprint as well.


Mother of Pearl

is the parly internal layer of certain mollusk shells.


Motif

or basic element. The simplest design unit, consisting of a distinct dominant or recurrent element of design.


Motif

is a recognizable part of an overall design, composed of one or several elements.



N Back to the Top

Naja

is the Navajo word for the crescent-shaped ornament suspended from squash blossom necklaces and horse bridles.


Natural dye

any dye obtained from various plants, insects, minerals, etc. In general, a natural dye is any coloring agent that is not classified as a paint, a pigment, a coal tar derivative or an aniline dye.


Natural turquoise

has not been added to or adjusted, apart from its shape. Stabilized turquoise has been chemically hardened with liquid resin or plastic.


Naturalistic

design motifs hinging on the depiction of plants or animals or insects.


Neck

is the part of a jar near the opening which is relatively constricted and cylindrical in comparison with the main body of the vessel. Some jars have no neck.



O Back to the Top

Off-set Printing

Method of printing that involves the transfer of an inked image to an intermediary, such as a rubber cylinder on an offset press, then to paper.


Oil paint

is a general term for paint bound with a drying oil, usually linseed oil, made from pressed flax seed.


Oil pastel

is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Unlike "soft" or "French" pastel sticks, which are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. The surface of an oil pastel painting is therefore less powdery, but more difficult to protect with a fixative. Oil pastels provide a harder edge than "soft" or "French" pastels but are more difficult to blend.


Olla

large pot used as a water container.


Olla

or jar. A bottle-shaped basket, often used for storing seeds or holding water.


Overlay

involves soldering one piece of silver to another piece of silver.



P Back to the Top

Pastel

refers to pigments mixed with gum and water, and pressed into a dried stick form for use as crayons. Works of art done with such pigments are also called pastels.


Patina

can be intentionally applied using chemicals and a torch to affect a sculpture’s coloration or can be the result of exposure to the elements (moisture or air pollution).


Patina

residue of food or other material that results from native use or from age. Glaucous bloom is a whitish patina consisting of tiny particles of wax. It forms naturally on some reddish-brown basketry fibers such as young cherry bark or on the cuticle of other related vegetal fibers and will not harm the basket.


Pattern

a planned, often repeating decorative design which usually can be broken down into more basic elements, or motifs.


Petrified Wood

is wood from early geological ages which has been turned to stone (a form of agate) from the action of mineral-permeated waters.


Photographic offset lithograph

technique for producing an image on a lithographic plate by photographic means. Compare chromolithography.


Photosilkscreen

Technique for the transfer of photographic images to a stencil for screenprinting.


Pitting

is a problem observed occasionally on Pueblo pottery resulting from expansion and contraction of improperly prepared clay or impure clay.


Planography

printing from a flat surface. Visually refers to lithography.


Plaster

is a building material similar to mortar or cement. Like those materials, plaster starts as a dry powder that is mixed with water to form a paste which liberates heat and then hardens. Unlike mortar and cement, plaster remains quite soft after setting, and can be easily manipulated with metal tools or even sandpaper. These characteristics make plaster suitable for a finishing, rather than a load-bearing material. The term plaster can refer to gypsum plaster (also known as plaster of Paris), lime plaster, or cement plaster.


Pochoir

is a refined stencil-based technique to create prints or to add color to pre-existing prints, most popular from the late 19th century through the 1930's. Originally the stencils were made of thin sheets of aluminum, copper or zinc. Later celluloid or plastic were used to make the stencils from.


Polish

is the smooth surface finish achieved by means of stone stroking or rubbing with fabric or leather when the surface is still damp before firing.


Polychrome

signifies more than two colors on the sculpture’s surface


Polychrome

is pottery with three or more colors or tones, making up the color scheme.


Pony bead

a small bead introduced by the French to the western Great Lakes region about 1675, named as they were transported by traders on ponies.


Poor

is specified when a very large degree of damage is observed. These condition flaws are described in detail in the report.


Porcelain

is a hard, fine grained, nonporous, usually translucent, white ceramic ware consisting of kaolin, quartz and feldspar. It is fired at high temperatures.


Poster

is a large printed placard, often illustrated, posted to advertise or publicize an event such as a performance.


Posterization

In serigraphy, a photographic technique for producing sharp and dramatic images by making valuable exposures of a continuous tone image.


Posthumous casting

represents an artwork produced after the artist’s death, which negates the possibility of the artist qualitatively judging casting’s appearance


Prehistoric

is pottery produced prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America.


Presentation proofs

prints outside the edition, generally intended as gifts.


Printer's Proofs

prints outside the edition given to the master printer and the printer and/or collaborator if any.


Printer's chops

is a personal embossed seal of the collaborating printer or principal printer of the edition. When this chop or embossed seal is used, it is usually at the bottom of each impression and will be on each impression in the edition.


Proof

is a trial print pulled to test the progress of the image.


Provenance

a history of ownership and/or locations of a particular work of art



Q Back to the Top

R Back to the Top

Rag paper

fine paper for printing, made from one hundred percent cotton or linen rags and not containing any wood pulp.


Raised Outline weave

is a variation of tapestry weave in which two colors of weft alternate in pattern areas; wefts skip two warps instead of one color junctures, thus creating a raised outline around each motif.


Recto

the Latin word meaning “the right” or more important side of an image; the front side


Registration marks

are drawn or engraved on a plate or stone to aid in the registration. They are usually in the form of a small cross or triangle.


Relief

Printmaking technique in which the image is printed from a raised surface, usually produced by cutting away non-image areas.


Repousse

is creating a design in relief by hammering or doming out, the shape from the reverse side.


Representational

a specific type of design in which an object being portrayed is characterized or standardized by a likeness to the actual object, with no attempt at idealization. Similar to, but less realistic than, naturalistic design


Restricted Form

a basket form that tapers inward toward the rim or has a constriction such as a neck. An unrestricted form is flat or flares outward, as in basket plaques and trays and non-globular bowls.


Rim

is the region of the vessel adjacent to the opening.



S Back to the Top

Saddle blanket

is a small textile used under a saddle to prevent it from galling the horse. Standard single saddle blankets measure 30 inches square. Double saddle blankets 30 x 60 inches. Frequently used as small rugs.


Screenprint, Serigraph, Silkscreen

are interchangeable. They reference printmaking techniques using a fine screen made from silk, acrylic or other fiber through which ink is squeezed. The screen acts as a stencil. Each layer of color is residing on top of the paper substrate and is usually opaque. Sometimes the grid from the screen is visible on the top surface of the ink.


Seed bead

any of the small colored beads falling between the size 18/0 to 10/0, the latter being the larger size. These were introduced around 1840, the result of standardization of manufacturing techniques in Venice and Bohemia.


Serigraphy

Printing technique that makes use of a squeegee to force ink directly onto a piece of paper or canvas through a stencil containing the image. The process is also called "silk screen".


Serpentine

is a semi-precious stone, native to the Southwest. A streaked dark green with a somewhat oily luster.


Serrate design

is a sharply pointed zig-zag pattern made by diagonals, often used to create diamond shapes.


Sgraffito

decorating by finely cutting away parts of a surface layer to expose a different color ground.


Shape

two-dimensional or flat outline or configuration of an object.


Sheet Silver

comes in different thicknesses (gauges).


Shoulder

is the widest part of a jar, if it occurs rather high on the vessel.


Sinew

A silvery grey tendon traveling down each side of the spine on mammals. Scraped free of all flesh and allowed to dry, it is then shredded into fibers which are moistened and twisted into sewing threads.


Slip

is a coating of a watered down clay applied to the surface of a pot before firing. The slip may be polished or left as a matte finish.


Slip cast pottery

Pottery formed using clay molds, often bought at hobby shops, taken home painted with commercial paint and then kiln fired.


Spiney Oyster

is an orange-colored shell (Spondylus).


Squash blossom necklace

is a necklace of silver beads interspersed with pomegranate-shaped silver pendants; from the bottom hangs a naja, or crescent-shaped pendant. One of the earliest styles of necklaces made by the Navajo, it originated in the 1880’s and has sustained its popularity over the years. Many artists set the naja and other pendants with turquoise or other stones.


Squaw wrap

is a method of tightly wrapping cotton around the loose ends of a beaded necklace.


Stainless steel

is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5 or 11% chromium content by mass. Stainless steel does not stain, corrode, or rust as easily as ordinary steel, but it is not stain-proof. There are different grades and surface finishes of stainless steel to suit the environment the alloy must endure. Stainless steel is used where both the properties of steel and resistance to corrosion are required.


Stamp work

is a process of decorating silver with punches or stamps. These stamps impress their design into a piece of metal once a hammer is applied to the flat end of the stamp with some force.


Steel engraving

During the 1820's steel replaced copper for many types of plate. Steel gives a much harder wearing plate, that could be used for thousands of impressions before signs of wear appeared. Steel also allowed much finer detail to be engraved, which would quickly have worn on a copper plate. However, the task of engraving became much more difficult due to the change in metal, necessitating changes in methods and finer, harder, tools.


Stencil

A printing process in which an image is cut out of mylar plastic and placed over printing paper. Ink is then stippled through the open parts of the "mask" to produce images in soft, modulated colors.


Sterling Silver

consists of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.


Stipple engraving

Stipple is a drawing, painting, or engraving method employing dots rather than lines. Stippled works can be produced with any of a variety of tools, including pencils, crayons, pens, and brushes.


Stitches

the individual whipped elements in coiled basketry that function to hold the coils of a basket together. Such weft stitches may be either closed (placed close together) or open (spaced apart), whole or split, interlocked or non-interlocked.


Stoneware

is a strong opaque ceramic-ware that is high-fired, well vitrified and non-porous. It is usually wheel thrown.


Stoneware

is a vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic ware of fine texture made primarily from non-refractory fire clay. Fine stoneware is made from more carefully selected, prepared and blended raw materials. It is used to produce tableware and art ware.


Storage basket

round or squared trunk-like container used for storing household possessions.


Strainer

chassis or wooden framework on w hich an artist's canvas is stretched with rigid corners, unable to adapt to expansion and contraction.


Stretcher

chassis or wooden framework on which an artist's canvas is stretched with corner elements that can expand or contract using keys or springs.


Stylized

a specific type of design in which an object being portrayed is standardized with a motif that falls between naturalistic and representational. Stylized motifs, such as men on Southwest basketry, are often identical in form and manner of execution.


Sugar Lift Aquatint

Dating from the 18th century revived in the 20th century, this technique enables the artist to establish dark areas directly by drawing on the copper plate with a solution of black watercolor and sugar, applied by either pen or brush. After a number of chemical treatments, a dark tone on a white background results.


Sugar lift etching

A sugar lift etching is made by painting on the surface of the plate with a brush dipped in a solution made of sugar and water. Unlike soap ground, which resists acid, the sugar solution must be removed, or lifted, before the plate goes in the acid. After the sugar lifts, the printer applies an aquatint, and the acid bites into the portions that were drawn by the artist with the sugar solution.


Sugilite

is a purple stone from the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, ranging from pale lavender to deep purple.


Swaging

is to bend or shape by using a swage, which is a tool for shaping cold metal.



T Back to the Top

Tempera

term originally applied to any paint in which the pigment is dissolved in water and mixed with an organic gum or glue, but now often references the most common form of the medium, egg tempera.


Thread count

is a number of threads in given segment of fabric, usually recorded as warps or wefts per inch; indicates density and relative fineness of fabric.


Tondo

the word is Italian for round and references round paintings or bas relief sculptures.


Transfer lithograph

involves the same process as lithography, but the design is drawn on special transfer paper and is later transferred mechanically to the stone or plate.


Treated turquoise

has been altered to change the stone's color.


Trial proof

is an impression printed prior to the bon a tirer. It may be in the colors of the edition but printed prior to minor additions or deletions in the image or on a different paper from the edition. A trial proof may also be an impression printed in black from one run, one color image either on the same paper as the edition or on a different paper from the edition.


Tufa casting

is casting into a porous rock made of volcanic ash.


Turquoise

is a hydrous basic phosphate of copper and aluminum, ranging in color from sky blue to very pale green. Various mines yield characteristic colors and matrices.


Tusche

is a water-miscible black fluid containing the greasy ingredients of a lithographic crayon, used in lithography for drawing the design on the stone or plate with a brush or pen.


Two Grey Hills

is a rug style with dominant central panel, often a diamond or double diamond, and one or more borders; natural gray, brown, black, and white color scheme; established in the 1920’s; named for community in east central part of reservation.


Type

is a group of pottery vessels that are alike in every important characteristic except (possibly) shape.



U Back to the Top

Utilitarian ware

is pottery used for everyday needs such as cooking, eating and storage.



V Back to the Top

Variscite

is a soft green gemstone sometimes resembling turquoise.


Varnish

is a solution of a resin in a volatile spectrum that, brushed or sprayed on a surface, dries to a hard, glossy and usually transparent film, serving as a protective coating.


Vegetal dyes

is any dye made from a plant source. In Navajo weaving, vegetal dye usually refers to dyes made from plants native to the Southwest.


Verso

the Latin word meaning “the wrong” or reverse side of an image; the back side


Verso

refers to the back surface of the painting.



W Back to the Top

Ware

is a group of pottery vessels that are alike in every important characteristics, but may differ in others.


Warp

any strand or fiber, usually of vegetal origin, that runs lengthwise or vertically in basketry. The warp element is usually more rigid and strong than are weft elements. Active weft and warp elements characterized plaited basketry (i.e., both weft and warp elements are active in the weaving process). Active weft and passive warp elements are typical of twined basketry.


Warp

is made up of yarns that are strung on a loom. Weft yarns are woven over and under the warps. In completed Navajo rugs, the warps are hidden by the wefts.


Watercolor

is any paint that uses water as a solvent. Paintings done with this medium are known as watercolors. What carries the pigment in watercolor (called its medium, vehicle, or base) is gum arabic. An exception to this rule is water miscible oil paints, which employ water as their solvent, but are actually oil paints. British spelling is “watercolour”.


Watermark

is an image made within a sheet of paper by variations in pulp thickness.


Weft

consists of the yarns that are woven over and under the warp yarns, which are attached to the loom. In completed Navajo rugs, only the weft lines are visible.


White-heart

A bead, either in seed or necklace size, which is composed of an opaque white core with an outer wrapping of translucent color


Wide Ruins

is a rug style with banded patterns in vegetal colors; characterized by numerous serrate diamond motifs and frequent but subtle use of beading; established in the late 1930’s.


Woodblock print

represents relief printing, the oldest technique for making prints. A block of wood, sawn along the grain is drawn on. The design to be printed is raised so that the cutaway areas are not printed, as they do not receive ink.


Workshop chop

is an embossed seal of the workshop where the impression is printed. This chop or seal generally appears at the bottom of each impression in the edition.



X Back to the Top

Y Back to the Top

Ye' ii

is a (Navajo) special class of supernatural with close spiritual relationship to Navajo people and their natural environment; often depicted in stylized anthropomorphic form. Ye’ii rugs show front facing figures, standing singly or in rows.


Yei' bi-chai

is a special class of supernatural beings with close spiritual relationship to Navajo people and their natural environment; often depicted in stylized anthropomorphic form. These beings are portrayed in weavings facing sideways.


Ye’ii Bicheii Ceremony

Nine day winter ceremony in which the ye’ii dancers appear literally. Ye’ii bicheii means “grandfather of the ye’ii (holy people)” and refers to one of the dancers, also called the “Talking god”; Ye’ii bicheii rugs depict semi-realistic figures in profile, usually standing in action poses.



Z Back to the Top