Barbara Gonzales, cjsi2c281, Micaceous jar with geometric design and inlaid turquoise and stone


A polychrome micaceous jar decorated with a painted feather ring and geometric design plus inlaid turquoise and stone details

In stock

Dimensions 7.5 × 7.5 × 7.25 in
Condition of Piece

Very good, rubbing on bottom


Tahn-Moo-Whe H-HG-3 with raincloud and lightning bolt hallmark


Gonzales, Barbara

Born in 1947, Barbara Gonzales is the great-granddaughter of Maria Martinez and granddaughter of Adam and Santana Martinez.

She credits her great-grandmother with changing the making of pottery from a craft to a fine art. Barbara also credits her great-grandmother with being a major force in the shaping and evolution of that fine art.

Barbara lived in Maria's home at San Ildefonso Pueblo from the time she was five until she was ten. That is when she learned the basics of the traditional way of making pottery. Barbara says pottery making was such an integral part of Maria's family life that she organically assimilated the skills simply by being in the presence. She also traveled with Maria to sell pots to tourists under the portal at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe and at the train depot in Albuquerque.

Barbara's own first pieces were simple animal sculptures. She progressed into small jars, then bowls and spheres. Slowly Barbara developed her style of small sculptures, polychrome pottery and stone-inlaid, sgraffito-etched red and black ware.

Along with Popovi Da she was one of the early adopters of the two-tone technique (involving two firings to produce sienna effects on otherwise black pots). She also used inlaid turquoise, heishe beads and gemstones. Around 1973 she originated "the Spider" and "the webbing technique" in sgraffito-on-black pottery. That design pattern soon became her trademark.

Barbara participated in the Santa Fe Indian Market for many years, earning First, Second and Third Place ribbons often. She was included in the Maria Martinez: Five Generations of Potters exhibition at the Renwick Gallery in 1978 and the Masters of Indian Market exhibition at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 1996.

Barbara was chosen as a representative of Maria's "craft lineage" in the 1997-8 Pottery by American Indian Women, The Legacy of Generations exhibition of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Some of the Awards Barbara has earned

  • 2000 Santa Fe Indian Market, Classification II - Pottery, Division H - Non-traditional pottery, any forms using non-traditional materials or techniques, Category 1520 - Miscellaneous, unpainted: Second Place
  • 1996 Santa Fe Indian Market, Classification II - Pottery, Division H - Non-traditional any forms using non-traditional materials or techniques, Category 1510 - Single figures, (animal & other), all other: First Place
  • 1995 Santa Fe Indian Market, Classification II - Pottery - Division E - Traditional pottery, painted designs on burnished black or red surface: Best of Division
  • 1995 Santa Fe Indian Market, Classification II - Pottery - Division E - Traditional pottery, painted designs on burnished black or red surface, Category 1203 - Bowls, over 6 inches in diameter: First Place
  • 1995 Santa Fe Indian Market, Classification II - Pottery - Division E - Traditional pottery, painted designs on burnished black or red surface, Category 1206 - Plates: Third Place
  • 1995 Santa Fe Indian Market, Classification II - Pottery - Division E - Traditional pottery, painted designs on burnished black or red surface, Category 1207 - Miscellaneous: First Place
  • 1990 Santa Fe Indian Market, Classification II - Pottery, Division J - Non-traditional, any forms using non-traditional materials or techniques, Category 1403 - Jars & vases, unpainted (other than stoneware): Second Place
  • 1988 Gallup InterTribal Ceremonial, Classification IV - Pottery-jar, seed jar, canteen: Third Place
  • 1983 Santa Fe Indian Market, Classification II - Pottery, Division E - Traditional, painted designs on burnished black or red surface: Second Place
  • 1977 Heard Museum Guild Indian Arts & Crafts Exhibit, Classification VII - Pottery, Division C - Miniatures, under 2-1/2": Second Place
  • 1974 12th Annual Scottsdale National Indian Arts Exhibition, Section C - Crafts, Classification VIII - Pottery, Division B - Adaptations: Honorable Mention

A Short History of San Ildefonso Pueblo

Black Mesa, a sacred mesa between Santa Clara and San Ildefonso Pueblos
Black Mesa from San Ildefonso Pueblo

San Ildefonso Pueblo is located about twenty miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, mostly on the eastern bank of the Rio Grande. Although their ancestry has been traced as far back as abandoned pueblos in the Mesa Verde area in southwestern Colorado, the most recent ancestral home of the people of San Ildefonso is in the area of Bandelier National Monument, the prehistoric village of Tsankawi in particular. The area of Tsankawi abuts today's reservation on its northwest side.

The San Ildefonso name was given to the village in 1617 when a mission church was established. Before then the village was called Powhoge, "where the water cuts through" (in Tewa). The village is at the northern end of the deep and narrow White Rock Canyon of the Rio Grande. Today's pueblo was established as long ago as the 1300s and when the Spanish arrived in 1540 they estimated the village population at about 2,000.

That first village mission was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and when Don Diego de Vargas returned to reclaim the San Ildefonso area in 1694, he found virtually the entire tribe on top of nearby Black Mesa, along with almost all of the Northern Tewas from the various pueblos in Tewa Basin. After an extended siege, the Tewas and the Spanish negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their villages. However, the next 250 years were not good for any of them.

The Spanish swine flu pandemic of 1918 reduced San Ildefonso's population to about 90. The tribe's population has increased to more than 600 today but the only economic activity available for most on the pueblo involves the creation of art in one form or another. The only other jobs are off-pueblo. San Ildefonso's population is small compared to neighboring Santa Clara Pueblo, but the pueblo maintains its own religious traditions and ceremonial feast days.

Map showing the location of San Ildefonso Pueblo relative to Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico
The location of San Ildefonso Pueblo

For more info:
San Ildefonso Pueblo at Wikipedia
Pueblo of San Ildefonso official website
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, by Daniel Gibson

Photo is in the public domain

About Jars

The jar is a basic utilitarian shape, a container generally for cooking food, storing grain or for carrying and storing water. The jar's outer surface is a canvas where potters have been expressing their religious visions and stories for centuries.

In Sinagua pueblos (in northern Arizona), the people made very large jars and buried them up to their openings in the floors of the hidden-most rooms in their pueblo. They kept those jars filled with water but also kept smaller jars of meat and other perishables inside those jars in the water. It's a form of refrigeration still in use among indigenous people around the world.

Where bowls tend to be low, wide and with large openings, jars tend to be more globular: taller, less wide and with smaller openings.

For a potter looking at decorating her piece, bowls are often decorated inside and out while most jars are decorated only on the outside. Jars have a natural continuity to their design surface where bowls have a natural break at the rim, effectively yielding two design surfaces on which separate or complimentary stories can be told.

Before the mid-1800s, storage jars tended to be quite large. Cooking jars and water jars varied in size depending on how many people they were designed to serve. Then came American traders with enameled metal cookware, ceramic dishes and metal eating utensils...Some pueblos embraced those traders immediately while others took several generations to let them and their innovations in. Either way, opening those doors led to the virtual collapse of utilitarian pottery-making in most pueblos by the early 1900s.

In the 1920s there was a marked shift away from the machinations of individual traders and more toward marketing Native American pottery as an artform. Maria Martinez was becoming known through her exhibitions at various major industrial fairs around the country and Nampeyo of Hano was demonstrating her art for the Fred Harvey Company at the Grand Canyon. The first few years of the Santa Fe Indian Market helped to solidify that movement and propel it forward. It took another couple generations of artists to open other venues for their art across the country and turn Native American art into the phenomenon it has become.

Today's jars are artwork, not at all for utilitarian purposes, and their shapes, sizes and decorations have evolved to reflect that shift.

About Micaceous Pottery

Micaceous clay pots are the only truly functional Pueblo pottery still being made. Some special micaceous pots can be used directly on the stove or in the oven for cooking. Some are also excellent for food storage. Some people say the best beans and chili they ever tasted were cooked in a micaceous bean pot. Whether you use them for cooking or storage or as additions to your collection of fine art, micaceous clay pots are a beautiful result of centuries of Pueblo pottery making.

Between Taos and Picuris Pueblos is US Hill. Somewhere on US Hill is a mica mine that has been in use for centuries. Excavations of ancient ruins and historic homesteads across the Southwest have found utensils and cooking pots that were made of this clay hundreds of years ago.

Not long ago, though, the making of micaceous pottery was a dying art. There were a couple potters at Taos and at Picuris still making utilitarian pieces but that was it. Then Lonnie Vigil felt the call, returned to Nambe Pueblo from Washington DC and learned to make the pottery he became famous for. His success brought others into the micaceous art marketplace.

Micaceous pots have a beautiful shimmer that comes from the high mica content in the clay. Mica is a composite mineral of aluminum and/or magnesium and various silicates. The Pueblos were using large sheets of translucent mica to make windows prior to the Spaniards arriving. It was the Spanish who brought a technique for making glass. There are eight mica mining areas in northern New Mexico with 54 mines spread among them. Most micaceous clay used in the making of modern Pueblo pottery comes from several different mines near Taos Pueblo.

Potters Robert Vigil and Clarence Cruz have told us there are two basic kinds of micaceous clay that most potters use. The first kind is extremely micaceous, often with mica in thick sheets. While the clay and the mica it contains can be broken down to make pottery, that same clay has to be used to form the entire final product. It can be coiled and scraped but that final product will always be thicker and heavier but perhaps smoother on the surface. This is the preferred micaceous clay for making utilitarian pottery and utensils. It is essentially waterproof and will conduct heat evenly.

The second kind is the preferred micaceous clay for most non-functional fine art pieces. It has less of a mica content with smaller embedded pieces of mica. It is more easily broken down by the potters and more easily made into a slip to cover a base made of other clay. Even as a slip, the mica serves to bond and strengthen everything it touches. The finished product can be thinner but often has a more bumpy surface than a polished piece. As a slip, it can also be used to paint over other colors of clay for added effect. However, these micaceous pots may be a bit more water resistant than other Pueblo pottery but they are not utilitarian and will not survive utilitarian use.

While all micaceous clay from the area around Taos and Picuris turns golden when fired in the open air, that same clay can be turned black by firing in an oxygen reduction atmosphere. Black fire clouds are also a common element on golden micaceous pottery but they are more a result of smoke touching the piece in random bursts of air.

Mica is a relatively common component of clay, it's just not as visible in most. Potters at Hopi, Zuni and Acoma have produced mica-flecked pottery in other colors using finely powdered mica flakes. Some potters at San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Jemez and Ohkay Owingeh use micaceous slips to add sparkle to their pieces. Hubert Candelario of San Felipe said he gets his micaceous clay somewhere along the La Bajada escarpment near Santo Domingo. The color of the clay indicates that Mark Wayne Garcia of Santo Domingo gets his micaceous clay in the same place.

Potters from the Jicarilla Apache Nation collect their micaceous clay closer to home, in the Tusas Mountains. The makeup of that clay is different and it fires to a less golden/orange color than does Taos or La Bajada clay. Some clay from the Picuris area fires less golden/orange, too. Christine McHorse, a Dineh potter who married into Taos Pueblo, used various micaceous clays on her pieces depending on what the clay asked of her in the flow of her creating. Juanita Martinez, a figure-maker from Jemez Pueblo married into and moved to Taos Pueblo. There, she began decorating her figures with bands and lines of micaceous slips.

There is nothing in the makeup of a micaceous pot that would hinder a good sgraffito artist or light carver from doing her or his thing. Some potters are also adept at adding sculpted appliqués to their pieces and slipping them with micaceous clay. There are some who have learned to successfully paint directly on a micaceous surface. The sparkly surface in concert with the beauty of a simple, well-executed shape is a real testament to the artistry of a micaceous potter.

Archaeologists and historians have long pointed at Taos and Picuris Pueblos as the birthplaces of micaceous pottery but at the 1994 Micaceous Pottery Symposium at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, Jicarilla Apache potter Felix Ortiz advanced the possibility that the people of Taos and Picuris learned how to make micaceous pottery from the Jicarilla Apache people. After all, it is Jicarilla Apache pottery made of micaceous clay from the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains area that has been found as far away as Dismal River Culture settlements in Colorado and Nebraska and proto-Kiowa settlements in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Ramona Gonzales Family Tree - San Ildefonso Pueblo

Disclaimer: This "family tree" is a best effort on our part to determine who the potters are in this family and arrange them in a generational order. The general information available is questionable so we have tried to show each of these diagrams to living members of each family to get their input and approval, too. This diagram is subject to change should we get better info.

    Ramona Sanchez Gonzales (1885-), second wife of Juan Gonzales (painter)
    • Rose (Cata) Gonzales (daughter-in-law)(1900-1989)(San Juan) & Robert Gonzales (1900-1935)
      • (Johnnie) Tse-Pe (Gonzales)(1940-2000) & Dora Tse-Pe (Gachupin, first wife, Zia, 1939-)
        • Andrea Tse Pe (1975-)
        • Candace Tse-Pe (1968-)
        • Gerri Tse-Pe (1963-)
        • Irene Tse-Pe (1961-)
        • Jennifer Tse-Pe (1966-1983)
      • (Johnnie) Tse-Pe (1940-2000) & Jennifer Tse Pe (Sisneros - second wife, Santa Clara)
    • Blue Corn (Crucita Gonzales Calabaza)(1921-1999)(step-daughter of Ramona) & Santiago Calabaza (Santo Domingo) (d. 1972)
      • Heishi Flower (Diane Calabaza-Jenkins) (1955-)
      • Joseph Calabaza (Tha Mo Thay)
      • Elliott Calabaza
      • Lucille Calabaza-King
      • Nancy Calabaza
      • Sophia Calabaza
      • Stacey Calabaza
      • Krieg Kalavaza
      Blue Corn's Students:
      • Vera Solomon (Laguna)
    • Rose' students:
    • Juanita Gonzales (1909-1988) & Louis Wo-Peen Gonzales (brother of Rose Gonzales husband)
      • Adelphia Martinez (1935- )
      • Lorenzo Gonzales (1922-1995)(adopted by Louis & Juanita) & Delores Naquayoma (Hopi/Winnebago)
    • Oqwa Pi (Abel Sanchez)(1899-1971) & Tomasena Cata Sanchez (Rose' sister) (1903-1985)