Juan Tafoya (b. 1949, d. 2006) selling his pottery under the portico of
the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico
|It saddens us to inform everyone that Juan passed away on May 6, 2006|
The Pottery of Juan Tafoya of the San Ildefonso Pueblo
We first met Juan Tafoya on Saturday, October 13, 2001 selling his pottery under the portico of the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a soft-spoken man, a Native American of the Tewa people of the San Ildefonso Pueblo. He has a lovely, calm spirit and a wry sense of humor. It was there we bought our first of two black-on-black pots by Juan.
After serveral minutes of engaging conversation, he graciously invited us to observe him fire some pots at his studio/home on the San Ildefonso Pueblo that Monday. We were planning to visit the Pueblo anyway, it was one of our major objectives of the trip, being the birthplace and home of the famous Maria Martinez (1887-1980), who rediscovered the ancient black-on-black pottery process in about 1910. So we eagerly accepted!
On Monday, October 15, 2001, we met Juan at his studio/home, and he brought us to his 3-sided tin shed in the backyard, where he has his firing pit. The photos show the entire firing process, which turns the reddish-brown pots to the wonderful black-on-black color. While waiting about an hour and a half for the process to finish we had some wonderful conversation with Juan in his studio and looked over his previously finished pottery. We talked of our cultural differences and similarities, about the youth today, the passing on of traditions, and, of course, the art of pottery making.
After the firing was completed, and only four of the six pots survived, we couldn't resist buying one of the pots we personally witnessed being fired. The next day, while browsing in a shop in downtown Santa Fe, and relating our story to the shopkeeper, she told us we were truly fortunate to be invited to witness this ancient and highly proprietary procedure.
Juan Tafoya is a wonderfully pleasant and gracious man, a gifted and dedicated artisan, and we feel honored to have met and spent time with him. We feel even more honored to have been allowed to watch this ancient process of firing black-on-black pottery. Thank you, Juan.
Here is Juan's story in his own words:
I am a life-long resident of San Ildefonso Pueblo and have been involved in pottery making since I was able to gather clay and other elements that go into the creation of the black and red San Ildefonso pottery. The art of pottery making involves skill, patience, and hard work was taught to me by my mother, Mrs. Donicio Tafoya, who has been creating San Ildefonso pottery since she was in her early teens.
Since learning the techniques, I have been experimenting with different ways of firing to achieve a two-tone effect which creates a red on black image. I also have worked with torquoise and coral mountings on several places of pottery to create a new dimension in the design of native pottery.
As a result of my work in pottery, I have been invited to, and attended numerous showings, throughout the State of New Mexico, and other states including the Annual New Mexico Arts & Crafts Show, Eight Nothern Arts & Crafts Show, the State Fair Showings, the Santa Fe Indian Market, and Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
I am very interested in continuing the art of pottery making which has been a part of my culture for hundreds of years and continues to be an expression of artistic creation as well as a way of life for us today.
In our family we have kids too, for them we always shop toys for kids online by going totaltoys.com to get toys types because they don't server in our area. After that we visit near by toys shop to shop similar kinds of toys for our kids.
Go To: Luciano Family Home Go Back To: Santa Fe 2001 Introduction