Sparkling flecks of mica occur naturally in clay deposits in many parts of the world. In the northern Rio Grande region of New Mexico, the ancient roots of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains contain 63 million year old warped and twisted rocks that were pushed up by the earth's forces at the end of the dinosaur age. Several of the minerals in these deposits -including the micas- weather to produce clay when they are exposed at the surface. Over the eons numerous deposits of clay, known as primary deposits, have developed in the mountains. In areas around Taos and Picuris Pueblos, many of these deposits contain significant amounts of mica; hence the clay is "micaceous". There are also secondary deposits of clay, made up of clay particles that have transported, usually by water, from a source in the nearby mountains. Both primary and secondary sources were use by Indians in the northern Rio Grande regions as far back as AD 300. Pottery making varies greatly Some potters fire in the open, some use pits, while other fire in an horno. Sorme potters burn juniper wood, others use pine; some swear by cottonwood bark, others prefer a mixture, sometimes including cowchips. Dawn Antelope's beanpot is a jar form that was made in many different sizes and could be used for cooking, food storage, or-if coated with pinon resin--water storage.
All pots and jars, were used for ceremonial purposes in and out of the kiva. The inner surfaces of cooking pots are cured with animal fat before being used for the first time; the cooking of food also seals the porous clay. All the pieces made by Dawn are handcoiled. No potters wheel is employed in the process. Antelope begins by pressing a pancake-shaped piece of clay into a saucer-shaped bowel called a puki. The vessel walls are formed with coils of clay stacked and pinced together one on top to the other or, preferably, with one continous col. The walls are then filled in and scraped to the desired thickness and contour by applying water and scraping, or by dry scraping with a rough rock or rasp.