Santa Clara Pueblo


Sophie Cata, “Eagle Feather Basket”, was born in 1957 into the Santa Clara Pueblo. She was inspired to continue the family tradition of pottery making from Flora Naranjo (grandmother) and Frances Salazar (mother). She was taught all the fundamentals of pottery making at the age of 6. Sophie strongly believes in tradition.

Sophie specializes in handmade traditional Santa Clara pottery. The materials used to make her pottery is all provided to her from Mother Earth. She gathers her clay and white sand within the Santa Clara Pueblo. The clay & white sand are sifted for impurities, then mixed in equal parts to form a mud type clay. The pottery is hand-coiled, and this accounts for imperfections. When the pot is dried, designs are drawn with a pencil and carved out with carving tools. She then sands her pottery with sandpaper to make it round and smooth. She applies a red slip on her pottery and polishes it with a polishing stone. Firing takes place outdoors in an open kiln, the way of her ancestors, and slabs of bark are added to the fire. It needs to reach a temperature of 800 degrees.

When she makes black pottery, horse dung is added to the fire to achieve a black finish. Her common designs are: bear paws, feather designs, water serpents, kiva steps, and cloud designs. Sophie signs her pottery as: Sophie Cata, Santa Clara Pueblo.

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