Evelyn Bird Quintana
A lot of my mantas, I put a butterfly on them, because it’s kind of like my symbol. I love butterflies.
When Isabel Gonzales was a child at Jemez Pueblo, she would herd sheep near San Ysidro. “There were a lot of butterflies over there, and when my sister and brother and I were herding the sheep and waiting, we’d be over there catching butterflies, all different colors, catching them and letting them go. And since then, I’ve always liked butterflies.” Later, Gonzales chose the butterfly as her signature symbol on the traditional mantas she embroiders.
Gonzales married into San Ildefonso Pueblo where she has lived for over thirty years. She learned to embroider from watching her mother Loretta Cajero, who learned embroidery at the Santa Fe Indian School, and from taking classes in the home enrichment program at Jemez Pueblo. When she was in the fifth grade, she won first prize at the New Mexico State Fair for an embroidered pillow.
Isabel Gonzales with her students from the Poeh Center (Poajoaque) looking at embroidery in the IARC vault.
She places great emphasis on the proper preparation of materials. She twists her commercial yarn, wets it, and wraps it around a baker’s rack to set the twist; when it is dry, she rolls it in a ball. This treatment makes for a bulkier yarn than covers more of the base cloth.
In addition to teaching embroidery to her two sisters, Eleanor and Frances, and her daughters, Raelene and Melanie, Gonzales has conducted classes at San Ildefonso and at the Po-eh Cultural Center at Pojoaque Pueblo. “My intention is to teach the basic embroidery so that it can go on from generation to generation,” she said. “I want other people to learn and carry it on.”
School for Advanced Research