Born in 1970, Erik Fender (Than Tsidih - Sun Bird) is the son of Martha Appleleaf. He began working with clay at the age of 10, inspired by his mother and his grandmother, Carmelita Dunlap. At the age of 17 he earned an award in a Congressional Art competition as part of his exploration of color. That exploration has led to experimentation with different clays and techniques to produce new colors on his pottery. At 22 he apprenticed himself to his mother to learn the traditional styles and designs of San Ildefonso pottery.
Over the years he has earned numerous awards at the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show and at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Lately he has been working to reproduce traditional San Ildefonso polychrome ware as the technique was nearly lost to San Ildefonso following the development of black-on-black pottery.