Erik Fender – Santa Clara

Published on July 30, 2014 by Carol

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Eric Fender pottery

Erik Fender, Than Tsideh “Sunbird”, was born in 1970 into the San Ildefonso Pueblo. He specializes in traditional and contemporary blackware pottery.

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He started the art of pottery making by watching his grandmother, Carmelita Dunlap, as she would hand coil and hand paint her traditional black -on-black pottery. As he grew older, he started to experiment more with various techniques and clays. His style progressed from the traditional black-on-black pottery to an innovated two tone, black-on-red, separated by sgraffito low relief carving. He also makes beautiful polychrome pots and presently he specializes in green-on-black pots. He harvests his clumps of raw clay from the sacred grounds within the San Ildefonso Pueblo, then, Erik breaks the clumps of clay to a fine powder substance and mixes it with volcanic ash and water, once that process is complete he hand coils snake like forms and begins to construct his vessel. When the vessel is built it is set out to dry. Once it has dried he sands it down to smooth out the surface. He stone polishes and hand paints his designs with all natural paints which are all boiled from native vegetation grown in the Pueblo. He is related to Martha Appleleaf Fendor (mother), Carmelita Dunlap (grandmother), Linda Dunlap (aunt), Jeannie Mountain Flower Dunlap (aunt), and Carlos Dunlap (grandfather). He signs his pottery as Than Tsideh which means “Sunbird”.


  • 1987 New Mexico Congressional Art First Place
  • 1988 Santa Fe Indian Market First Place
  • 1998 Santa Fe Indian Market Honorable Mention
  • Publications:

  • Pueblo Indian Pottery 750 Artist Biographies
  • Pueblo Artists Portraits
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