Juan Tafoya

San Ildefonso Pueblo

Juan Tafoya was a potter from San Ildefonso Pueblo. Born in 1949, he learned to make pottery from his mother, Donicia Tafoya, and became an active potter in 1970.

Early in his career, Juan was experimenting with different firing techniques to produce different shades of black and brown. He was one of the first San Ildefonso potters to incorporate turquoise inlays in his pieces. He also specialized in sgraffito techniques where he would chip away at a fired piece to create a textured background.

Juan followed a style similar to that pioneered by Popovi Da and Tony Da, then expanded on by Dora Tse Pe and Tse-Pe. The style is still prominent in the work of Russell Sanchez.

Juan has been rated as one of the more important potters from San Ildefonso. He was earning ribbons in juried competitions like the Santa Fe Indian Market as early in his career as 1975.

Juan passed away in 2006. He sometimes signed his pieces "Juan" and sometimes "Juan Tafoya San Ildefonso Pueblo" with the year and his lightning bolt hallmark.

Sgraffito geometric design, inlaid stones and strands of hishi beads on a red bear
Red bear decorated with strands of heishi beads, inlaid stones and a sgraffito geometric design
5 in H by 7 in Dia

San Ildefonso Pueblo Potters