Visiting Robert Tenorio, Famed Santo Domingo Potter
Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Santo Domingo Pueblo to witness a firing by Robert Tenorio, a highly esteemed potter, along with a group of fellow docents from the Indian Arts Research Center in Santa Fe.
When we arrived, the fire was hot and pots were ready to go over it resting on a metal grate. Mr. Tenorio wanted us to see how the painted lines look very faint before the pots are fired. The details are painted with a solution made from wild spinach. These lines will turn black in the fire.
Traditional Pueblo pots are not made on the wheel or with commercial clay and glazes. They are made with thick coils and scraped. Everything needed is gathered with thanks from Mother Earth. Mr. Tenorio told us the reason for the plain red bottom is to allow the potter to hold it in the hand while painting without damaging any detailed areas.
The grate is placed over the hot coals. Other random pieces of metal were also used to support the pots. These pots can touch each other as they are not glazed.
When the pots are cool enough to handle, Mr. Tenorio wipes his pieces with egg white for a final finish. He said that we could also wipe them with canola oil.
Mr. Tenorio provided us each with a small pot to paint and fire. It was an honor to be with him and learn from him for most of the day. He is an amazing man.