Two Charming San Ildefonso Pots ca 1890 - 1910

Friday, February 28, 2020 1:36 PM

Two Charming San Ildefonso Pots ca 1890 - 1910

The Anasazi, or “Ancestral Puebloans” as contemporary anthropologists refer to them created pottery for utilitarian uses beginning about 200 A.D. They cooked in it, stored food in it, ate and drank from it. And, as anyone who has spent much time looking at the pottery from Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon or any of the early living sites of the early inhabitants knows, they spent an inordinate amount of time and effort decorating these vessels with beautiful designs. 

As the need for utilitarian vessels declined, replaced by pots, pans and modern storage containers, the production of handmade pottery declined. 

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A Round Navajo Rug?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 7:35 AM

A Round Navajo Rug?

There are a few Navajo weavers who make round rugs. These weavings are not common as there are some challenges to creating one. Over the years, we have worked with several women who made them, but they have all passed on. 

My dad always liked them because he thought they were great for displaying artwork like pottery, baskets and bronzes. 

The early ones were made using a wagon wheel rim as a loom. I knew a weaver that used a bike tire rim and some are done on crochet or needlepoint frames.

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Noel Night and Artisan Showcase

Thursday, December 6, 2018 6:54 AM

Noel Night and Artisan Showcase

Two of our most popular Holiday events are this weekend. On Friday, December 7, from 5 until 9 pm, join us for Noel Night, a Durango tradition with 10% discount on everything in the gallery and a special Sales Room with 20% to 70% discounts. 

Noel night is always special with Darryl Kuntz, legendary keyboard master, playing your favorite Christmas Carols. Leather artist and jeweler Eric Hodges will be showing his work along with pottery artist Norman Lansing! 

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The Other Half of Maria Martinez

Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:46 AM

The Other Half of Maria Martinez

Maria is deservedly considered the “Potter of San Ildefonso” because of her long and illustrious career and her part in creating the black on black pottery that made her famous. Her polishing technique created the first “gun metal” finish and her legacy is etched in clay. 

 Not much is said about Julian, her husband, who was also key in created the beautiful pottery that he signed with his wife. He worked with anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett researching traditional designs. He later modified these designs to create unique patterns that he used to paint the mat black finish designs on Maria’s pottery. 

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A Nacimiento made by Legendary Potter Helen Cordero

Sunday, August 12, 2018 12:00 PM

A Nacimiento made by Legendary Potter Helen Cordero

In New Mexico, Nativity Sets, Creche or manger scenes made by Pueblo Indians depicting the birth of Christ, are commonly known as Nacimientos. That is because of the predominantly Hispanic culture in the area and the fact that the Christianization of the Pueblo people was a result of the Spanish settlers. It’s not a real pretty story, but as times evolved, the Catholic faith has become intermingled with the lives of the Pueblo people.

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Blue Corn and My First Experience with Pueblo Pottery

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 11:56 AM

Blue Corn and My First Experience with Pueblo Pottery

In the early 1970’s, I was traveling around the West selling Navajo rugs and Indian jewelry to Indian theme shops, museum stores and National Park outlets.

Several customers in Wyoming, Montana and Colorado asked me if I could obtain Pueblo pottery for them. It was becoming more popular and there was a boom in anything Native American.

I did not know anything about pottery, so I called Suzanne Helzer who owned the Deer Dancer Gallery in Denver. She said, “Go and see Richard Spivey in Santa Fe. He only sells the best.

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Maria and Julian Plates

Thursday, June 1, 2017 6:48 PM

Maria and Julian Plates

Today we are going to share a set of plates made by Maria and her husband, Julian, that are really unique. How unique? Well, what would you think if I told you that Maria made several sets of plates that were intended to be used as dinnerware?

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Maria Martinez, The Potter of San Ildefonso

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 8:51 AM

Maria Martinez, The Potter of San Ildefonso

The most famous of all Pueblo potters is Maria Martinez (1887-1980). She is credited as having created the first contemporary black Pueblo pottery, but in reality, that is not true. They had made black pottery at Santa Clara since the 1600s.

What she did do, was to create the famous "Black on Black" pottery with painted mat black designs on a beautiful black finish. It's a technical accomplishment and it was due to a 1908 archaeological excavation led by the founder and director of the Museum of New Mexico. When they discovered ancient "Black on Black" pottery, he began looking for a contemporary potter who could re-create the ancient works and settled on Maria, who made the thinnest pots at San Ildefonso. 

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Works of a Master Potter from Santa Clara Teresita Naranjo, “Apple Blossom

The process of creating Santa Clara, or any other traditional Pueblo pottery, is exacting and challenging. From locating the clay source, digging it out of the ground, cleaning it, creating the pot by hand using the coil method, carving or painting designs on the pot, polishing it and then firing it under a pile of Pinon or sheep manure, it is a long process.


If everything is not done correctly, the pot may break when fired. If the wind comes up, the finish will not be perfect. It is difficult to make a simple basic pot, but creating a unique, elegant and technically perfect pot is very, very challenging. It is for these reasons that so few potters reach that level of artistry.

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What's that Navajo girl doing making Hopi pots?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 4:51 PM

What's that Navajo girl doing making Hopi pots?

If you study the history of the Southwestern tribes, you’ll find that the Hopi and Navajo have not always been the best of buddies. Some of the animosity is long term, going back to ancient days, and some of it relates to more recent times. 

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Stella Shutiva (1939-1997), Acoma Potter

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 3:37 PM

Stella Shutiva (1939-1997), Acoma Potter

Stella Shutiva was from the Acoma Pueblo which is West of Albuquerque off of I-40 near Grants, New Mexico. Potters from prehistoric sites in the southwest created pottery that had a corrugated look and feel. The outside of the pot is textured in rows where the coils circle the pot. Stella's mother, Jessie Garcia, is credited with being the first person to recreate this unique style.

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Storytelling to 112 Children

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 1:51 PM

Storytelling to 112 Children

Carolyn Sando, of Jemez Pueblo, has been a great friend and one of our favorite artists since she attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, over thirty years ago! It’s hard to believe we’ve known each other for that many years, but it has been a pleasure. She is one of those people whose enthusiasm and smile are contagious! In the fall of every year, she brings us a nice selection of her Nativity sets which are always a big hit. The individual pieces in each set radiate personality and it certainly makes you feel good to look at them. Well, this summer, Carolyn outdid herself and brought in two really nice large storytellers. I am talking large!

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