Shirley Tafoya (Cactus Blossom) was born in Santa Clara Pueblo on May 11, 1947, youngest daughter of Alcario and Margaret Tafoya. She grew up surrounded by potters making pottery but didn't decide to get into making pottery herself until she was 26 and had worked for several years as a medical technician.
Shirley excelled in producing red and black carved miniatures. She also excelled in teaching and advising other members of the Tafoya family in how to do it right. She met Leonard Tafoya in 1975 and as much as he was the love of her life, they didn't marry until 2010. In the 1990s she took on the job of caring for her aging parents until one died in 1995 and the other in 2001. When Shirley died on November 16, 2010, she and Leonard hadn't been married one full month.