Santa Clara Pueblo

Photo and map from Southwestern Pottery Anasazi to Zuni, Alan Hayes and John Blow

The Santa Clara pueblo currently has the largest number of active potters of the pueblo pottery producers. The pueblo is famous for the carved and/or polished blackware and redware. Santa Clara and San Ildefonso pueblos are adjacent and their pottery techniques have been shared and influenced by the other. Margaret Tafoya and her mother, SaraFina Tafoya, are considered the matriarchs of Santa Clara pottery. They developed the carved pottery technique in the 1920s. Helen Shupla was another important innovator who created the melon bowl from an earlier historic version. Her melon bowls are distinctive because she pushed the ribs from the inside out instead of carving them on the outside.

Black-on-black and redware is still popular as well as polychrome designs. Many potters favor highly polished surfaces and frequently use the traditional bear paw imprint. The avanyu, Tewa for water serpent, is a favorite motif. The double-spouted wedding vase is also a popular vessel. Recently several potters are creating sgraffito pottery, finely detailed geometrics and plant and animal forms on vessels. The potters use multiple colors of clay slips to emphasize areas of decorations. Several potters also create clay figures, another traditional art form of the pueblo.

Some of the most innovative potters are at Santa Clara creating very non-traditional vessels, including Joseph Lonewolf, Grace Medicine Flower, Nathan Youngblood, Lucy Year Flower, Nancy Youngblood Lugo, Jody Folwell, Autumn Bortz and Tammy Garcia. A few of the many other collectible potters are LuAnn Tafoya, Tina and Greg Garcia, Corn Moquino, Virginia Ebelacker, Toni Roller, Shirley Tafoya, Mary Archuleta, Mary Cain, Belen Tapia, and Angela Baca.

Personal Collection

Carved redware vase

Artist: Anna Archuleta
Size: 8.5" high x 5.5" diameter

Anna Archuleta is the daughter of Belen Tapia and has been an active potter since 1975. She typically creates carved polished redware, but she has done some carved, polished blackware. Anna carves the surfaces with very precise angular edges and distinct geometric patterns and buffs her pottery to a beautiful polish. Recently her husband Fidel is also signing the pottery.

This was the first pueblo pottery that we purchased and it is still one of our favorites. We loved the beautiful shape of the vase as well as the precise carving and shiny red polish against the buff design. It is always easy to pick out an Anna Archuleta creation because of her distinctive style and precision carving.

Melon pot

Artist: Alvin Baca
Size: 6.25" high x 4.75" diameter

Alvin Baca was born in 1966 and is the grandson of Severa Tafoya and son of Angela Baca. He began making pottery in 1980. He is most noted for his undecorated red melon bowls. Alvin creates beautifully symmetrical pots and finishes them with incredible polish and firing.

This red melon is one of Alvin's traditional works. He does such a great job of polishing that this pot almost glows and looks more like a ceramic finish. The pot is perfectly balanced and ribs are very symmetrical and evenly space. This pot is signed just Alvin Baca.

Carved redware seed jar

Artist: Linda Cain
Size: 4.5" high x 5.75" diameter

Small Carved redware vase

Artist: Denise Chavarria
Size: 4.25" high x 3.5" diameter

Denise Chavarria is a fourth generation potter of the Tafoya family. She learned pottery from her mother Stella Chavarria and grandmother Teresita Naranjo. Denise creates small and miniature carved black and red bowls and jars.

On this vase Denise created a feather and avanyu design with precision and beautiful polish. We always like her small vases in the buff on redware design.

Small carved blackware vase

Artist: Stella Chavarria
Size: 4.5" high x 4.25" diameter

Stella Tafoya Chavarria learned to create carved red and black ware bowls and jars from her famous mother, Teresita Naranjo. Her work is very much influenced by her mothers work, but Stella works on a smaller scale.

This small avanyu jar has a beautiful black polish and precise carving. It has such a traditional Santa Clara Pueblo pottery feel to it.

Polished black bearpaw jar

Artist: Sharon Naranjo Garcia
Size: 7.5" high x 6" diameter

Sharon Naranjo Garcia was born in 1951 on the Santa Clara Pueblo, but has been living in San Juan for the past twenty years. Her teacher was her grandmother Christina Naranjo and when Christina passed away in 1980, Sharon began potting full-time. Sharon creates carved and plain redware and blackware seed jars, water jars and vases. Her polished jars often have the traditional bear paw print. Sharon has won numerous awards at Indian Markets, demonstrates at museums and her work is in collections at several museums.

This is an example of a very traditional bearpaw jar with double shoulders that is reminiscent of Margaret Tafoya. Once again Sharon did an excellent job of shaping, polishing and firing this pot.

Polished black swirl vase

Artist: Sharon Naranjo Garcia
Size: 7.25" high x 7" diameter

See above for artists background.

This simply polished swirl vase has a beautiful shape with a sheen that can only be achieved with multiple layers of slip and lots of buffing. Sharon does an incredible job on this type of vase.

Polished black jar

Artist: Greg Garcia
Size: 4.5" high x 3.75" diameter

Greg Garcia was born in 1961 to Lydia Tafoya and Santiago Garcia. He is the grandson of Severa and Cleto Tafoya, potters of Santa Clara, but he also claims San Juan heritage from his father. Both his sisters are well-known potters, Virginia and Tina Garcia. Greg works in the traditional style and uses all natural clays and slips on his pots. He typically creates small to medium sized pots that have no carving. The symmetry and polish on his pots are excellent. He has been winning awards at Indian Market since the late 1980s. He signs his pots with his name and SC/SJ for both his pueblo heritages.

This little pot with the scalloped lip was just such a perfect example of Greg's talent for perfect shape and polish.

Polished red jar

Artist: Tina Garcia
Size: 5.5" high x 8.5" diameter

Tina Garcis was born in 1957 and her grandmother, Severa Tafoya, was the inspiration for her work. She also learned many of her pottery making skills from her aunt, well-known bowl maker, Angela Baca. Tina specializes in very traditional Santa Clara forms such as bear-paw impressions, shoulder vases, and mother gourd bowls. She typically creates larger pieces than her brother Greg. Tina has been winning awards in competition since 1974. She signs her pots with her name and San Juan/Santa Clara.

Tina is so talented at making perfectly symmetrical polished red pots and this one is no exception. I loved the traditional bear paw imprint on the elegantly simple shape. This was one of the last pots that Tina made because I purchased it in the fall of 2005 just before she passed away.

Polished dark chocolate jar

Artist: Virginia Garcia
Size: 3.5" high x 8.5" diameter

Virginia Garcia was born in 1963 and has been actively potting since 1987. She was encouraged to take up pottery by her sister Tina. Virginia typically creates undecorated redware and blackware.

Virginia was selling this pot at the 2005 Santa Fe Indian Market. It was unusual because the slip fired a dark chocolate instead of the usual red or black that she typically creates. I liked the smooth flowing shape that was reminiscent of a Hopi seed pot. The pot is signed V. Garcia, SC/SJ.

Polychrome vase

Artist: Margaret and Luther Gutierrez
Size: 5" high x 3.25" diameter

Carved black wedding vase

Artist: Rose M. Lewis
Size: 12" high x 8" diameter

Rose Mary Lewis was born on the Santa Clara Pueblo in 1952. Her teacher was her mother, Olaria Sisneros. Rose has been exhibiting her pottery since 1994 and often collaborates with her husband, Travis Lewis. She typically creates carved blackware jars, vases, bowls and buffalos and signs them as Rose Mary Lewis, Rose Marie Lewis, Rose M. Lewis, or Rose M. Travis Lewis.

This is a perfectly shaped and proportioned carved wedding vase. Rose does not carve deeply, but she carves very precisely. The design is the traditional water serpent or avanyu. The polish on the vase is very shiny and almost gunmetal like in its appearance.

Large carved blackware vase

Artist: Barbara J. Martinez
Size: 9.5" high x 8" diameter

Barbara Martinez is a member of a large family of Santa Clara potters and is the daughter of the late, well-respected potter Flora Martinez. She creates traditional feather and avanyu designed blackware vases.

This vase was the first really large piece of blackware that we added to our collection. We find the precise carving, shape and polish on this large vase to be just incredible.

Red on red bowl

Artist: Barbara J. Martinez
Size: 7" high x 8.75" diameter

See above for artists background.

This bowl was so interesting because red-on-red ware is rare. We were almost wondering if it was meant to have been a reduction firing and be a black-on-black bowl and for some reason it didn't happen. It makes an interesting contrast to look at this next to a black-on-black vessel and imagine it as the before and after look of a pot.

Carved black friendship basket

Artist: Vickie Martinez
Size: 8" high x 5.5" diameter

Vickie Martinez was born on the Santa Clara Pueblo in 1967. Her teachers were her mother, Barbara Martinez, and her grandmother, Flora Naranjo. Vickie creates traditional carved blackware and redware bowls, jars, and wedding vases. She also does some sgraffito vessels.

This pot caught my eye because it was such a simple, classic friendship basket with nice proportions. This shape is also called an engagement basket. The design is a traditional avanyu and the carving and polishing are very well-done.

Black/sienna sgraffito pot

Artist: Martin Moquino
Size: 2.5" high x 3.25" diameter

Martin Moquino is one of nine children of Corn Moquino. Corn was one of the earliest artists to carve pots in low relief in the sgraffito style. Although Corn was of Zia and Hopi descent, he works in the traditional Santa Clara style after moving to the Santa Clara Pueblo and marrying Christine Herrera. Corn was self-taught and he in turn taught all nine of children to make pottery. Martin is one of the more prolific potters of the children.

We liked this pot for its intricate carving of hummingbirds and flowers. The sgraffito carving is very interesting and the use of colors is very pleasing.

Black on black bowl

Artist: Flora Naranjo
Size: 2.5" high x 4.5" diameter

Black on black seed jar

Artist: Flora and Glenda Naranjo
Size: 4" high x 4.5" diameter

Polychrome vase

Artist: Maria Barbarita Naranjo
Size: 7" high x 5.5" diameter

Maria Barbarita Naranjo was born in 1916 on the Santa Clara Pueblo and is a member of the Margaret Tafoya family. She signs her pottery with just the name Barbarita. She created both black-on-black and polychrome vessels. Her daughters are the noted potters Veronica Naranjo and Mary Scarborough.

This vase just had the look of an older traditional polychrome vase. At first I thought that it was by Belen Tapia because of the colors used to create the avanyu. I thought that the shape of the vase was very pleasing and symmetrical and the painting of the serpent was very distinctive.

Black-on-black jar

Artist: Maria Barbarita Naranjo
Size: 2.75" high x 2.5" diameter

See above for artist description

This miniature jar was perfectly formed and fired and the design was beautifully painted.

Small carved blackware vase

Artist: Jennifer Naranjo
Size: 3.25" high x 4" diameter

Jennifer Naranjo was born in 1955 and has been actively potting since the late 1970s. She learned the art from her mother-in-law Reycita Naranjo, a well-known potter at Santa Clara. Jennifer has won awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market since 1990. She does mostly small traditionally carved polished blackware jars and nativity sets.

This pot is a very traditional blackware avanyu pot. We donít know the provenance on this pot as we inherited it when my mother passed away in 2004.

Black/sienna sgraffito jar

Artist: Sammy & Adrianna Naranjo
Size: 6.25" high x 6" diameter

Sammy and Adrianna Naranjo are a pottery making team that learned from Sammyís mother, Flora Naranjo. They have been exhibiting their work and winning awards since the late 1980s. They make both carved and sgraffito two-tone blackware jars and bowls and our collection has one of each style.

This sgraffito pot caught George's attention in a gallery in Santa Fe. It has a beautiful symmetrical shape with expert sgraffito work and firing that created black with a sienna rim.

Carved blackware jar

Artist: Sammy & Adrianna Naranjo
Size: 4.25" high x 6" diameter

(See above for details on artists)

This carved pot must be an earlier effort of the team because even though the carving is very deep and precise, the firing was not even and the black varies in depth of color.

Small carved redware seed jar

Artist: Veronica (Naranjo)
Size: 3.5" high x 4.75" diameter

Veronica Naranjo learned the art of pottery making from her mother Barbarita Naranjo, who is a member of the Margaret Tafoya family, and her fatherís mother, Nestora Silva. She has been actively potting since 1965. Veronica prides herself on carving deeper than the traditional carved pottery and typically creates redware with a high gloss shine. She lives with her sister Mary Scarborough and their pottery is virtually identical.

We liked this bowl because it was so deeply and precisely carved with such a beautiful polished red finish.

Polychrome jar

Artist: Anita L. Suazo
Size: 6" high x 6.5" diameter

Anita Suazo was born in 1937 at Santa Clara Pueblo and comes from a long line of traditional potters. She uses the centuries old techniques of coiling techniques and polishing stones. Anita learned these techniques from her mother, Belen Tapia, when she was a small child and has been actively potting ever since. Anita first created pots that resembled her mother's polychrome vessels, but now she crafts mainly red or black carved pottery. She has taught traditional Indian pottery techniques in workshops for the University of New Mexico and the University of California at Davis. but now

We found this pot in a gallery in Cheyenne that had just purchased a large quantity of art from an estate sale. We think that this is one of Anita's old vessels because it resembles her mother's pottery so much. In fact when I spotted it, I thought for sure that it was a pot by Belen Tapia. We loved the deep red color of the slip as well as the perfect shape and design.

Black on black dish

Artist: Clara Suazo
Size: 7" x 5" x 2"

Clara Suazo also signs her pots as Clara Swazo or Clara Chavarria. She has been actively potting since about 1935. She is the daughter of Geronimo Chavarria and the wife of Florencio Suazo.

We picked up this little dish because it was so unusual. I think that it was probably sold as a tourist trinket, but it was well-made and we found it at a good price.

Small carved redware bowl

Artist: Dona Tafoya
Size: 2" high x 4.5" diameter

Dona Tafoya was born in 1952 and learned to make pottery from her mother, Mida Tafoya and grandmother, Christina Naranjo. She has been exhibiting her pottery in competition since the 1990s.

We liked the shape, carving and polish of this small avanyu bowl.

Black/sienna sgraffito seed pot

Artist: Eric Tafoya
Size: 3.5" high x 4.5" diameter

Eric Tafoya was born in 1969 and has been actively potting since 1985. He typically creates duotone, sienna and black, sgraffito bowls, jars and miniatures. His favorite designs are feathers, birds, hummingbirds, deer and flowers.

This is a beautiful duotone seed pot with feathers around the top and hummingbirds and flowers that are beautifully carved. George surprised me with this pot that he found at a southwest store here in Fort Collins.

Carved redware lidded bowl

Artist: LuAnn Tafoya
Size: 7" high x 7" diameter

Carved blackware bowl

Artist: Madeline Tafoya
Size: 3" high x 6.25" diameter

Carved blackware jar

Artist: Mida Tafoya
Size: 4" high x 5.5" diameter

Black on black vase

Artist: Yolanda Velarde
Size: 6.5" high x 4.5" diameter

Yolanda Velarde was born in 1961 and has been actively potting since 1984. She began winning numerous awards for her work in the 1990s. Her teachers were her grandmother, Flora T. Naranjo, and her mother, Frances Naranjo Salazar. Yolanda creates very traditional black-on-black vases, seed jars and bowls.

We loved this traditional vase for its beautiful gun-metal finish that required an expert hand at polishing and firing. It is very reminiscent of a Maria Martinez finish.

Polychrome jar

Artist: Earlene Youngbird Tafoya
Size: 3" high x 3.5" diameter

Earlene Youngbird has been exhibiting pottery since 1995. She is one of the finest potters in the style of polychrome redware. Her design work is exceptional and her compositions are complex. She is one of the best pottery painters. Earlene's pots are especially well made, the pots are thin and light with fine polish and well- balances forms.

I had been wanting one of Earlene's pots for quite awhile and this one spoke to me when we spotted it in Taos at a gallery. Like all of Earlene's pots, it is beautifully painted and perfectly shaped.