Pueblo: Jemez Pueblo
Glendora Fragua is recognized as one of today’s top Pueblo potters. Her pottery is elegant and sophisticated, with precision sgraffito on hand coiled and highly-polished clay vessels. They are masterpieces in form and design. Her designs, which echo the classic Pueblo designs – kiva steps, spirit figures, rain symbols and corn – are uniquely her own. Her cornstalk trademark is added to the bottom of each piece.
Glendora Fragua was born in St. Louis, Missouri and her early years were spent in San Francisco, California. In the 1970s, she moved back with her family to the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico. Glendora learned pottery making from her mother, noted Jemez potter Juanita Fragua. Her tremendously talented family also includes potter sister, BJ and brother, Cliff, a world renowned sculptor whose 7’ depiction of Po’pay represents New Mexico in the Statuary Hall of the US Capitol.
At the age of 16, Glendora was developing her own pottery style, using natural clays and slips and experimenting with a scratch technique known as sgraffito. Sgraffito carving requires a steady hand for the delicate, intricate and precise designs. She is particularly noted for her scraffito, depictions of animals, and insets of stones.
Glendora continues to use all natural pigments and slips to construct her masterpieces. She specializes in hand coiled sgraffito vessels. She gathers all her clumps of clay and other natural plants and vegetation from within the Jemez Pueblo. Once, she has gathered all of her materials she breaks down the clumps of clay into a fine powder form and hand mixes with water and other natural minerals to a fine medium and begins to construct her vessels by using the ancient method of hand coiled and hand pinching the clay.
When the vessels are constructed, she sets them out to dry; when they are dried, she hand sands her pieces to give them a smooth finish. Then, she begins to hand carve lizards, turtles, feathers, kiva steps, flowers, butterflies, corn stalks, and other geometric designs into the surface of each piece.
Glendora is meticulous in her work on her pottery and the finishes. In order to achieve the crispness in polish colors and incision, she often adds more details and slips, polishing more and more until she is totally satisfied with the results! Glendora’s pottery is exceptional in shape, form and design and, while identifiable with her signature style, is also ever-changing in subtle, yet striking ways. She gets very excited to try new slips, design patterns and shapes and has recently added acrylic paints to her repertoire, accenting her pottery with a whole new color spectrum.
“My work is contemporary,” says Glendora “but, my methods are traditional.”
She is perhaps the finest creator of Jemez sgraffito-style pottery. Her work is continuously evolving and improving. Glendora continues to be recognized with her winning pottery in a variety of shows and events, including the Santa Fe Indian Market, and the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial.
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