Dora Tse-Pe (1939-2022)
Dora Tse-Pe, was born at Zia Pueblo in 1939. Dora learned pottery as a child from her mother, Candelaria Gachupin, gathering clay and sand and basalt. When Dora married and moved to San Ildefonso Pueblo, she knew how to make pottery, but she watched Rose Gonzales, her new mother-in-law, make red and black pottery. “We didn’t polish at Zia,” says Dora, who helped Rose gather clay and fuel for fire. Dora told me she was also inspired by Popovi Da, and his son, Tony Da.
Dora was known not only for her coiling skills, and carving techniques, but her polishing was always exemplary. She was always a perfectionist with her vessels. She achieved a beautifully smooth burnish and an exceptional black and red firing to her pottery. She was able to balance traditional methods with innovative combinations of textures, colors, and clays. Dora received much recognition for her work. The first prize she ever won was a blue ribbon at the 1969 New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque for a simple, plain black pot that she had polished and fired with Rose Gonzales. In 1988 and 1991 she won the prestigious Best in Traditional Pottery award at Indian Market in Santa Fe.
I worked with Dora for over twenty years, and it was a joy to know her.