Gilbert Olivas – SanJuan

Published on July 16, 2014 by Carol

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Black San Juan Pottery Bowl by Gilbert Olivas

Gilbert Olivas was born in 1958 into the San Juan Pueblo. He began experimenting with clay at the age of 7. By the time he turned 29 years of age he had mastered all the fundamentals of using ancient traditional methods of working with natural clays and pigments. He was inspired to learn the art by working with Barbara Martinez from the Santa Clara Pueblo. She shared her special techniques of working with clay with Gilbert.

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Gilbert specializes in the hand coiled black or red Santa Clara pottery. He mines his clay and other pigments from within the hills of the Santa Clara Pueblo. Then, he sifts the clay for impurities, mixes the clay with volcanic ash, hand coils, carves designs, polishes the pottery with a stone, and fires his pottery, outdoors, with horse manure. His designs include the water serpent (beginning of life), feathers (ablity to fly), and arrows (direction of life). He signs his pottery as: Olivas pottery, Gilbert Olivas, followed by the date when the pot was completed.


  • Los Alamos National Lab Art Show 1st Place
  • New Mexico State Fair 2nd Place
  • Publications:

  • Rancho de Chimayo Collections brochure
  • New Mexico Geographical Society
  • Guest Life Magazine
  • Northern New Mexico Community College brochure
  • Source: pueblodirect Unabridged
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