Tribal Expressions

Sandra Victorino Pottery

• jewelry
• painting
• pottery
• sculpture
gallery information

Sandra Victorino pot

Large Vase with Checkerboard, Snowflake & Tear Drop Design - 13" x 13" - $SOLD

Larger image

Checkerboard, Clouds and Rain Swirl Design Vase - 6" x 7" - $1400

Larger image

Top of Swirl Design Vase
pictured to the left

Larger image

Raindrops and Snowflakes Swirl Design Seed Bowl- 3,5" x 4.5"- $300

Sandra Victorino pot

Checkerboard, clouds and raindrops swirl design seed bowl - 3.5" x 4.5" - $SOLD

Sandra demonstrating

Acoma pottery by Sandra Victorino

Sandra Victorino has enjoyed creating traditional Acoma Pueblo pottery for over fifteen years. By watching her grandmother and with much practice and patience of her own, Sandra learned to paint with a yucca brush. Her designs embody and give definition to Half Snowflake, Tear Drop, Checkerboard,Whole Snowflake with fine line, and Original Fine line, designs.

Sandra is a proud resident of Acoma, Sky City, New Mexico. Sandra has been married for 22 years. She has a daughter, Rochelle who lives with her husband in Yuma Arizona, and has three boys at home Cletus Jr., Joey Vernon, and Preston. Her husband, Cletus, formerly a uranium miner currently works for Portland Cement in Albuquerque. All live together in a double wide trailer in Acomita.

The largest pot she has made was about 18 inches tall. She has also made mini pots. She makes pots in all sizes and varieties. She likes open bowls and vases and many of her newer vases are distinguished by painted decoration inside the mouth of the larger pots. She has been painting in the mouth of the pots for only about a year. Sandra has not kept track of exactly how many pots she has made but estimates she has made as many as 50 to 60 pots in one year. The largest selection ever assembled was at Tribal Expressions February 2000 show where 25 pots ranging from $350 to $5,000 were assembled.

Sandra likes to build her pottery while standing. She spends days sitting when she is painting so standing is preferred. She gathers and processes her own clay, uses local plants, rocks and rain water for paint, and fires her painted pots in shallow pits near he house to fuse the clay and slips as one unitary ceramic vessel.

Sandra uses rain water for mixing her clay and it is always near for use when slapping, shaping, scraping, and forming the clay. Whether using a gourd, stick or knife, all utensils are also generally wet with moisture. The water works as a lubricant to smooth the clay and helps in the elimination of cracks and irregularities.

A sharp lid from a can of Spam is her ideal scraper. A butter paddle gently pats the sides of the clay pot to help form and stretch the clay into the desired shape.

With a rag soaked in white slip, Sandra applies a light coat to the surface of a pot. Moisture form the slip is absorbed readily by the clay and while moist she polishes the surface with a river stone which was given to her by her grandmother, Mary Valley.

Designs are not entirely marked on the pot prior to painting. She does pencil in section lines four or sometimes eight sections are used then linked with slip forming squares. Her dominant color, black, is made from the combination of a local river stone and concentrated wild spinach plant. The leaves of the plant are boiled to a paste like concentrate and mixed with rainwater which fires black. The Orange color is made from a local dirt that is found near Acoma. Sandra still uses orange given to her by her grandmother has enough to last for several years.

Firing is done in an old corral where chickens, turkeys and lambs, once were kept by her grandparents. The corral is a good place to store the wood, manure, and a shed there is handy for tools needed to tend the fire.

Several shallow pits are covered with tin to keep them dry and free of rain water. Before firing, a big old fire stone is laid in the bottom of the pit followed by shards, then the pots to be fired are laid mouth down, and covered with more shards. Dry cow manure chips (pasture patties, prairie frisbee) covers the pile then more chips and wood are piled around the base. Firings are generally started in the evenings and left to cool until the following morning.

Many of Sandra's pots reflect the precision design work of her mentor Dorothy Torivio. Dorothy, "Auntie Dot" or "Dottie" is her mothers sister. Dorothy is perhaps the most famous contemporary Acoma potter. Recent acknowledgment of Sandra's skill as a potter is evidenced by the awards she has won in juried competition. She consistently wins first, second and third awards for her division, including Best of Show for all of Indian Market in 1998.

Materials -

All natural materials are used in making pottery. These are gathered from the earth by searching, digging and picking by hand. The clay is dried and then ground by hand and grinding stones, Shards, broken bits of pottery, are ground to a fine powder to be mixed with the clay, and like gravel, is mixed with concrete for a solid formation. Paints are gathered from various plants and rocks, ground to a powder, mixed with rain water and kept moist.

Tools -

Scrapers, whether made of wood or metal, are used to shape the pots after the molding process. White slip is applied to the outside of the pots and polished by smooth, glass like stones to obtain a glassy appearance. Brushes, made of stiff leaves of the yucca plant, are dipped into the paints and applied carefully to the "unfired" pots.

Techniques -

The clay, shards and rain water are mixed together thoroughly. This is hard demanding work. A clump of the clay is then molded into a round shape. After working this rough pottery into the desired shape, the pot is air dried. Scraping takes place next to fine tune the pot's shape. After scraping, slip is applied and the pot is left to dry. Using the glass like stones to gently rub the pot makes the surface smooth and even. Paints are selected and, with the artist's imagination and skill, are applied to make an elaborate and distinctive design. the painted pots are baked or fired in kilns to achieve the final process. The end product is a piece of uniquely crafted artwork of the time consuming age old tradition among the Pueblo Indians.

Back to top