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Santa Clara & San Ildefonso

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Probably the most famous Pueblo potter of all time was Maria Martinez. A fine potter in the early traditional San Ildefonso style, she began experimenting in new types of pottery styles influenced by the sherds left behind by her ancient ancestors. Encouraged by Dr. Edgar L Hewitt from the American School of Research, and her husband Julian she developed and perfected the famous blackware of the San Ildefonso and Santa Clara by experimenting with different clays and firing methods. Her trademark gunmetal black finish has never been replicated. With this innovation others from the Santa Clara and neighboring Santa Clara Pueblo began creating their own signature styles in pottery. Design elements like the Avanyu serpent, feather motifs, and the famous bear claw designs of Margaret Tafoya are prevalent in both the pottery of the Santa Clara and San Ildefonso pottery. The art of carefully incising pottery with these traditional designs became popular with many Santa Clara pottery families. These two Pueblos combined have produced some of the finest pottery artists in the world and the contemporary Santa Clara and San Ildefonso artists of today continue to innovate and perfect their skill and artistry.