Shaped by Her Hands

Who is Maria Martinez (1887 – 1980)

Maria Martinez was from the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico.

By age thirteen, she was already celebrated within the tribe for her creative skills. She and her husband, Julian Martinez, revived an ancient local process for making the all-black pottery. Their blackware stood in marked contrast to the all-red or polychrome ware that had dominated the pueblo’s production for generations. From -https://nmwa.org/art/artists/maria-martinez/

The unique black color is achieved by the Martinez family by using a fire reduction method for pottery firing. This method reduces the amount of oxygen available in the kiln, and by smothering the fire often with cow or horse dung, the pottery is carbonized.From — https://www.museums.iastate.edu/virtual/blog/2020/03/17/learn-about-the-black-ware-pottery-by-maria-martinez

Hear from the Authors:


3 types of pottery

Pottery is formed either by hand forming or by throwing the pot on a wheel. To be considered pottery, a piece must be a fired ceramic ware that contains clay when formed. There are three basic types of pottery with respect to clay used:

  • Earthenware — Earthenware clays are low fire clays. 1479 and 2109F (804-1154C)
  • Stoneware — Stoneware clays mature when fired in the mid to high fire range. 2010-2370F (1100-1300C)
  • Porcelain — Porcelain is a high fire type of clay. 2232F (1222C) upwards

Color your own pottery

Family Traditions

Have you ever thought of your own family traditions?

Your family may have artistic activities you all take part in like Maria’s family or you may have foods you like to cook, or traditional clothing you create/wear.

Talk with your parents or grandparents about your family traditions and think about how you would like to pass that on to your future family.

How do families combine traditions?

If your family is a mix of cultural and traditional heritages then you may have many traditions that merge to make new traditions. What does that look like in your home?