Home»Dennis and Ofelia Jaramillo, Reviving a ceramic tradition (circa late 1970s)
The Jaramillos lived in the very small village of La Madera, off the "back road" from Ojo Caliente to El Rito in north central New Mexico. Although born and raised in this area, their married life was spent in Utah where Dennis worked in copper mines and contracted black lung for one thing. They also raised a family. Upon retirement they returned to La Madera, and curiosity led to their discovery of pottery. At some point in the historical past Apaches would come into this valley to mine clay and make cooking pots from it. It is a special clay full of mica with enough flux material to at least partially fuse it together in an open wood firing. One could take a olla of this clay and cook directly on the gas flame of a kitchen stove. The Jaramillos heard of this, and there were a few older residents around who remembered where the clay was and how to process it. One way or another, and probably with the help of their nephew Felipe, these two managed for the most part to teach themselves the processes needed to produce their particular variation on an Apache tradition. The following slides takes one through the entire process from mining clay to pulling pots out of the firing. They also over time taught some classes at Ghost Ranch. They were dear people, very generous to us, and I remember them with great fondness. These photos were taken about 1969. This series is fully annotated so you can know what is happening slide to slide. Bot Ofelia and Dennis are deceased, but their children and families prosper.
This series in now in the photo archives of the Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum in Sante Fe, New Mexico. If you have interest in them contact: http://www.palaceofthegovernors.org/photoarchives.html