Pueblo: Jemez Pueblo

“I am a traditional potter with contemporary designs and techniques. By traditional I mean we gather our own clay and temper and we clean them and mix them and fire outdoors with cedar wood.”

Dominique ToyaDominique Toya is a member of the Corn Clan and has been making pottery since the age of 5. As a master potter, now her goal is to ensure that her own work gets better every day. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Dominique comes from a family of some of the best pueblo potters, Maxine Toya, Dominique’s mother and currently one of the finest Jemez potters of our time, was the inspiration behind her interest in learning the art of working with clay. Dominique is also related to: Laura Gachupin (aunt), Marie G. Romero (grandmother), the late Persingula M. Gachupin (great-grandmother), and sister Camilla Toya.

Although she has made red ware pottery and storytellers, Dominique now specializes in handmade micaceous pottery. She gathers her materials (natural pigments) for her masterpieces from the grounds within the Jemez Pueblo. She cleans, mixes, hand coils, shapes, sands, fires outdoors, and polishes her own pottery. The swirl lines are made by a determined potter taking an ice pick and scratching through the clay one line at a time, eventually covering the pot from top to bottom. “It’s all done by eyeballing,” she said. “It’s just a part of me.” Later, she sandpapers the grooves deep into the pot. Those deep groves are another telltale Toya sign, as is the sparkle in the final micaceous slip.

Dominique is always striving to improve and to create more complex and beautiful pottery. Her newest designs incorporate highly polished red ware with micaceous slip accents, as well as black micaceous pieces. She won three more ribbons this summer during Santa Fe Indian Market 2015.

She was quoted as saying “All the pots that I create are my favorite, because each one is a part of me.” She signs her pottery as: Dominique Toya, Jemez, followed by the corn sign to denote her clan origin.

Adapted from materials published in:
Southern Pueblo Pottery 2,000 Artist Biographies
Storytellers and Other Figurative Pottery
Southwestern Pottery 1999 Edition