Tree of Life
H x 2 1/4" D
Debra Trujillo-Duwyenie, wife
of noted Hopi potter Preston Duwyenie, is known for her highly
polished small seed pots and plates decorated with turtles, hummingbirds,
rabbits, and sunfaces. The polish and impeccable designs of her
pots can be used as a standard against which to judge other pots.
Born in Espanola just outside
the pueblo, Debra has been a lifelong resident of Santa Clara.
She is the middle child having three sisters and two brothers.
While growing up, her summers were spent with her grandparents
in Central Colorado at Manitou Springs, where they were the year-round
caretakers of a museum called Cliff Dwellings. Speaking only
in the Tewa, her grandfather sang to the children and and told
stories of his days at the Carlisle Indian School and of his
adventures as a soldier during World War II. Her grandmother
made them all traditional clothing.
Debra has been potting on
a regular basis since 1979. She learned from her mother, Genevieve
Gutierrez. Genevieve was a homemaker working with pottery to
supplement the family income. She sold pots to visitors at the
village and at shows including the Eight Northern Pueblo show,
and Indian Market. Today the entire family is involved in pottery
using principals taught by her mother. Because her mother made
much larger pots greater quantities of clay were required. All
the children participated in the gathering, sifting and mixing
of clay. She recalls how all the children would take off their
shoes to walk around in the clay and white sand in order to mix
Whether she is making her
classic Santa Clara red or black pottery, all of Debra's pots
begin with finely sifted clays extracted from areas along the
Rio Grand River. Buff colored clay comes from the Gallestio region
of New Mexico, south of Santa Fe. Her red slip comes from an
area near Santo Domingo Pueblo. Using cord wood, horse and cow
manure, Debra's pots are fired in an area behind her house. She
prefers a fire that increases in temperature slowly and allowed
to cool slowly. It is not uncommon however,for her pottery to
be pulled from the fire and taken directly to a show while warm.
Designs are etched into the
exterior surface of each pot by scraping away the polished surface
to reveal the buff colored clay beneath. The contrast between
the highly polished red and black surfaces and the flat colored
textured clay is the basis of all sgraffito style pottery decoration.