When Eloise Maney was in college, she took an art class in which there was a unit on basket making. With the teacher’s permission, she brought in materials of her own like white oak splints and honeysuckle vines, and proceeded to plait a basket in the manner that she already knew, learned from her family and other members of her community. She presented her traditional Cherokee basket to the teacher, and received the very first A that the teacher had ever awarded to any of her students.
Maney grew up in a family of artists. Her mother, Sally George, was a potter and beadworker, and her grandmother and aunts were potters. She learned pottery as a child, she says, by helping her mother, just as Sally George had helped her own mother.
Today Maney is best known for her skills as a potter, although she is a highly accomplished artisan in a variety of traditional crafts, including basket making, woodcarving, and beadwork. She makes pots in many classic Cherokee forms, including effigy bowls and frog bowls. Her work is especially notable for the smooth symmetry that she achieves, so perfectly rounded that onlookers have on occasion challenged her to prove that she does not use a potter’s wheel. Maney makes her pottery free-handed, in the traditional Cherokee manner.
Eloise Maney is available on a limited basis to give demonstrations, though she does not teach workshops.