San Ildefonso


Tse-Pe was born into San Ildefonso Pueblo in 1940. His parents, Robert and Rose Gonzales, first named him John but he changed that just after high school.

Tse-Pe learned to make pottery while watching his mother as he grew up. From San Juan Pueblo, she carved her pieces while Tse-Pe learned to prefer sgraffito and low relief carving.

When he was 19 Tse-Pe married Dora Gachupin of Zia Pueblo. Contrary to Puebloan tradition, she moved to his home at San Ildefonso. She had learned the Zia way of making pottery as she grew up. At San Ildefonso she learned the San Ildefonso way of making pottery from her mother-in-law. Together, Tse-Pe and Dora were exposed to the works of Popovi and Tony Da from San Ildefonso and Joseph Lonewolf, Camilio Tafoya and Grace Medicine Flower from Santa Clara. They all worked to push the quality of sgraffito work higher and higher.

Tse-Pe also added turquoise and heishe bead inlays and micaceous and green clays to his pottery, styles adopted and developed further by Russell Sanchez.

Awards Tse-Pe earned:

  • 1976 - 2nd Place ribbon with Dora, incised bowl, Santa Fe Indian Market
  • 1978 - 2nd Place ribbon with Dora, carved black jar, Santa Fe Indian Market
  • 1978 - 2nd Place ribbon with Dora, carved black jar with avanyu design, Santa Fe Indian Market

Tse-Pe and Dora divorced around 1979 and Dora went on to an award-winning career on her own. Tse-Pe met and married Jennifer Sisneros of Santa Clara soon after the divorce. Tse-Pe passed on in 2000 and Jennifer moved back to Santa Clara, reassumed her maiden name and later married Alfred Naranjo. Tse-Pe did influence her pottery-making style in that she added green and micaceous slips to her repertoire.

Tse-Pe always credited his mother with inspiring him to be a potter. His daughters, Andrea, Candace, Gerri, Irene and Jennifer, credit both Tse-Pe and Dora with inspiring them.

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

Dora Tse Pe

San Ildefonso

Dora Gachupin was born at Zia Pueblo in 1939 to parents Candelaria Medina of Zia and Tony Gachupin of Jemez. She married Johnnie "Tse-Pe" Gonzales of San Idelfonso when she was about 20 and contrary to the ancient tradition, moved to his home from Zia (the Pueblo people are generally matrilineal and home is usually where the wife's family resides). She had grown up learning the Zia pottery designs and shapes but at San Ildefonso, Dora was exposed to the highly polished red and blackware that Rose Gonzales, her mother-in-law, made. "We didn't polish at Zia", Dora has said, "we used slips and plant and mineral paints." It was from Rose that she learned polishing and other San Ildefonso and San Juan styles and techniques. She said about Rose, "I love her work, and I love carving. And I love the water serpent. It depicts water - rain, thanksgiving and prayer for water. It's a San Ildefonso trademark. I like to make my serpent really simple and graceful. You'll notice that Santa Clara serpents look almost oriental, all the curves on the backs and all. Mine are very plain."

Other exceptional potters who have influenced Dora over the years include Popovi Da with his two-tone black and sienna ware and Tony Da with his use of stone inlay. Dora’s work often includes turquoise or coral inlays on pots that also include combinations of black and sienna with micaceous slips. Her innovative style has sometimes been called "contemporary" and she often works with both polished clay and dull or micaceous clays in the same piece. However, she says she doesn't like that "contemporary" term and considers herself and her work to be traditional.

She has won many awards including Master Potter at Santa Fe Indian Market. Dora believes in quality not quantity and sees her art to be a gift from God. "It gives me pleasure to create beauty from the earth," she says.

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved


San Ildefonso Pueblo

Sacred Black Mesa
Black Mesa at 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 villages of Tyuonyi, Otowi, Navawi and Tsankawi specifically. The area of Tsankawi abuts the 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). Today's pueblo was established as long ago as the 1300's and when the Spanish arrived in 1540 they estimated the village population at about 2,000.

That 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. After an extended siege the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their village. However, the next 250 years were not good for them. Finally, the Spanish swine flu pandemic of 1918 reduced the tribe'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.

San Ildefonso has produced fine ceramic art since early pre-Columbian times. The pueblo is most known for being the home of the most famous Pueblo Indian potter, Maria Martinez. Many other excellent potters have produced quality pottery from this pueblo, too, among them: Blue Corn, Tonita and Juan Roybal, Dora Tse Pe and Rose Gonzales. Of course the descendants of Maria Martinez are still important pillars of San Ildefonso's pottery tradition. Maria's influence reached far and wide, so far and wide that even Juan Quezada, founder of the Mata Ortiz pottery renaissance in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to San Ildefonso to learn from her.

San Ildefonso Pueblo location map

For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, by Daniel Gibson
Photo is in the public domain

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

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Tse-Pe, San_Ildefonso, Miniatureblackjarwithasiennarim,sgraffitoavanyuandgeometricdesignplusaninlaidstone
Tse-Pe & Dora Tse Pe
San Ildefonso
$ 825
Miniature black jar with a sienna rim, sgraffito avanyu and geometric design plus an inlaid stone
2 3/4 in H by 2 1/2 in Dia
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Tse Pe and Dora San Ildefonso Pueblo

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved