Maria Montoya Martinez. She was born in 1880, in the town of San Ildefonse, in New Mexico. As a little girl she almost died of smallpox, but was taken to eat the sacred dirt at Chimayo, a holy spot nearby, and recovered. She learned traditional pottery from her aunts and women in her pueblo. She and her husband Julian worked on an archeological dig nearby and helped uncover ancient black pottery, which intrigued her. She worked to figure out how it was made, experimenting with burnishing and firing methods.
Her husband painted decorative symbols on the pots, exploring glazing methods.
She taught what she'd learned to the people of her village, for her people believe in sharing everything with each other. Her village became prosperous because of San Ildefonse blackware. People came from all over to buy them. Along the way, she had four sons, and a daughter who died as an infant.
Kristin (great blog, check it out, her work is gorgeous!)
just told me about a video of Maria making pots... thanks to youtube and Kristin , here is Part One of 'Hands of Maria', you can find part two on youtube...