Miniature black jar with sienna rim and sgraffito fish, bear paw and geometric design
, Click or tap to see a larger version
See a larger version

Kevin Naranjo, Santa Clara, Miniature black jar with sienna rim and sgraffito fish, bear paw and geometric design
Artist: Kevin Naranjo
Pueblo: Santa Clara
Dimensions: 1 in H by 1 1/4 in Dia
Item Number: xxscj8283
Price: $ 375
Description: Miniature black jar with sienna rim and sgraffito fish, bear paw and geometric design
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Kevin Naranjo SCP
Date Created: 2018
Best way to contact you:
Email:  Phone: 

Please click the checkbox below to tell the program you're human:


Every box is required

We will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!

We keep all your information private and will not sell or give it away for any reason, EVER!


Kevin Naranjo

Santa Clara
Kevin Naranjo
Sgraffito designs and a sienna rim on a black jar

Born in 1972 at Santa Clara Pueblo, Kevin Naranjo was given a Tewa name meaning Turquoise Mountain. He says he was inspired to learn the ancient tradition of hand coiling pottery by the time he was four, that inspiration coming from his family and his love of nature.

Kevin was born into a family of famous potters, including Luther Gutierrez (his great-grandfather), Dolores Curran (a maternal aunt) and Geri Naranjo (his mother). Geri is renowned for her miniature sgraffito (fine line incised) pottery, the traditional methods of which she taught to both Kevin and his sister, Monica Naranjo Romero.

Specializing in hand coiled black/sienna sgraffito pottery, Kevin gathers his clay from sacred grounds within Santa Clara Pueblo. He digs and prepares the clay, hand-coils and shapes his forms, then lets them dry for a few days. Then he stone polishes the surfaces and ground fires his pottery using an oxygen-reduction process to make the black canvas for his designs. After firing, he etches the pot to create wonderful scenes of wildlife that live in the area of his home on Santa Clara.

The first piece he made as a child was a dinosaur. He remembers it well: it sparked an interest in molding animal figurines. That first inspiration and practice evolved until now his pottery embodies beautiful symmetry, graceful lines and finely executed sgraffito designs like as the avanyu (water serpent), kiva steps and the feather pattern. Additional figures such as bears, eagles, bighorn sheep, deer and elk are incorporated into backgrounds of pueblo ruins and mountain views.

Since 2001, Kevin has been collaborating with Tricia Pena from San Ildefonso Pueblo. Her grandfather, the late Encarnacion Pena, was a member of the original San Ildefonso School of Painters. Together Kevin and Tricia are passing the art of pottery making on to their children.

Kevin has consistently earned awards for his sgraffito and miniature pottery since starting to compete in 1994. Most recently, he received Best of Division for miniature sgraffito at the 2006 SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market.

Print this biography (.pdf)

Santa Clara Pueblo

The Puye Cliff Ruins
Ruins at Puye Cliffs, Santa Clara Pueblo

Santa Clara Pueblo straddles the Rio Grande about 25 miles north of Santa Fe. Of all the pueblos, Santa Clara has the largest number of potters.

The ancestral roots of the Santa Clara people have been traced to the pueblos in the Mesa Verde region in southwestern Colorado. When that area began to get dry between about 1100 and 1300, some of the people migrated to the Chama River Valley and constructed Poshuouinge (about 3 miles south of what is now Abiquiu on the edge of the mesa above the Chama River). Eventually reaching two and three stories high with up to 700 rooms on the ground floor, Poshuouinge was inhabited from about 1375 to about 1475. Drought then again forced the people to move, some of them going to the area of Puye (on the eastern slopes of the Pajarito Plateau of the Jemez Mountains) and others to Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo, along the Rio Grande). Beginning around 1580, drought forced the residents of the Puye area to relocate closer to the Rio Grande and they founded what we now know as Santa Clara Pueblo on the west bank of the river, between San Juan and San Ildefonso Pueblos.

In 1598 Spanish colonists from nearby Yunque (the seat of Spanish government near San Juan Pueblo) brought the first missionaries to Santa Clara. That led to the first mission church being built around 1622. However, the Santa Clarans chafed under the weight of Spanish rule like the other pueblos did and were in the forefront of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. One pueblo resident, a mixed black and Tewa man named Domingo Naranjo, was one of the rebellion's ringleaders. When Don Diego de Vargas came back to the area in 1694, he found most of the Santa Clarans on top of nearby Black Mesa (with the people of San Ildefonso). An extended siege didn't subdue them so eventually, the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their pueblo. However, successive invasions and occupations by northern Europeans took their toll on the tribe over the next 250 years. The Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 almost wiped them out.

Today, Santa Clara Pueblo is home to as many as 2,600 people and they comprise probably the largest per capita number of artists of any North American tribe (estimates of the number of potters run as high as 1-in-4 residents).

Today's pottery from Santa Clara is typically either black or red. It is usually highly polished and designs might be deeply carved or etched ("sgraffito") into the pot's surface. The water serpent, ("avanyu"), is a traditional design motif of Santa Clara pottery. Another motif comes from the legend that a bear helped the people find water during a drought. The bear paw has appeared on their pottery ever since.

One of the reasons for the distinction this pueblo has received is because of the evolving artistry the potters have brought to the craft. Not only did this pueblo produce excellent black and redware, several notable innovations helped move pottery from the realm of utilitarian vessels into the domain of art. Different styles of polychrome redware emerged in the 1920's-1930's. In the early 1960's experiments with stone inlay, incising and double firing began. Modern potters have also extended the tradition with unusual shapes, slips and designs, illustrating what one Santa Clara potter said: "At Santa Clara, being non-traditional is the tradition." (This refers strictly to artistic expression; the method of creating pottery remains traditional).

Santa Clara Pueblo is home to a number of famous pottery families: Tafoya, Baca, Gutierrez, Naranjo, Suazo, Chavarria, Garcia, Vigil, Tapia - to name a few.

Harvest, Santa Clara Pueblo c. 1912
Courtesy Museum of New Mexico Neg. No. 4128
Santa Clara Pueblo c. 1920
Courtesy Museum of New Mexico Neg. No. 4214

Print this Pueblo History(.pdf)

Ursulita Naranjo Family Tree

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.

    Ursulita Naranjo
    Her descendants who became potters:
    • Dolores Curran & Alvin Curran (b. 1953)
      Their descendants who became potters:
      • Ursula Curran
    • Geri Naranjo
      Her descendants who became potters:
      • Kevin Naranjo (b. 1972)
      • Monica Naranjo
    • Alfred Ervin Naranjo & Jennifer Sisneros
      Their descendants who became potters:
      • Alfred Naranjo (b. 1980)

Pottery Care & Consideration

  • The most obvious tip: Yes, the pots will break if you drop them!
  • Do not expose pottery to water (Inside or outside). Do not wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Dust pottery only with a soft, smooth cloth (no terry cloth or textured fabric). A very soft paintbrush (sable or camel) can be used.
  • Always use two hands to carry your pot: one on top and one on the bottom, or one hand on each side. Be careful with handles, they can be fragile. Do not grip or lift pots by the rim. Take care when wearing jewelry, rings can scratch the finish.
  • Place a piece of felt or cloth between the pot and the shelf to protect the signature.
  • Avoid exposing pottery to extreme temperature changes.

For those who live in "earthquake country" (also good for mischievous pets):

  • Weigh pots down with a small zip lock bag containing sand, glass marbles, rice, etc. Do not fill the pot more than one third full as you want them bottom heavy. Remember to remove the weight before moving.
  • Secure your shelves; make sure they are well attached to the walls. Shelf brackets should be of sufficient length and strength to support the weight of your pottery.
  • Prevent pots from sliding. Consider attaching a small wooden molding to the front of shelves. Line shelves with non-slip material (a thin sheet of rubber foam, Styrofoam sheeting, etc.)
  • If you need assistance with special problems, major cleaning (your grandchild spills ice cream on your pot), restoration or repair (the cat breaks a pot), or replacement (irreparable damage), please feel free to call us.

We hope these ideas help you maintain the beauty and value of your pottery for years of enjoyment.

Print this page (.pdf)