Santa Clara PuebloSanta Clara is best known for their highly polished black and red polychrome pottery with sculptural design.
The Tewa name for Santa Clara is Kha’po Owingeh, “Singing Water Village”. The Santa Clara pueblo is located along the Rio Grande just 25 miles north of Santa Fe, NM. The ancestors of the modern Santa Clara Pueblo people inhabited cave-like dwellings carved into the soft volcanic tufa cliffs located in Santa Clara Canyon.
The Tewa tribe of Santa Clara is known for a wide range of pottery styles ranging from high polished blackware to matte polychrome pottery. The blackware process was adopted from neighboring San Ildefonso pueblo when Marie and Julian Martinez invented the technique. Santa Clara, like many other pueblos made pottery for cooking and ceremonial use until the arrival of the railroad. Now tourist and collectors marvel at the lustrous pottery.
Santa Clara is best known for their high polished black ware and red ware with sculptural design embellishments and bulbous mid-body forms with fluted rims. The iconic black surface is achieved in the final stage of firing by smoldering the fire with manure to prevent oxygen from reaching the clay. Today, potters use a blowtorch on certain areas to create the black surface. Leaving the untouched surface sienna in desired areas creates the two-toned or black and sienna pottery. Popular motifs include bear paw impressions, high relief water serpent (“Avanyu”) carvings and sgarffito.