Artist Profile | Embroidery | Transcript | Video       



Design &

How To







Evelyn Bird Quintana

San Juan Pueblo

Transcript of  an Interview conducted 12/4/02 in Albuquerque by Dolly Naranjo- Neikrug.

[The interviewers questions and remarks are in red italics.]

Embroidery Artists
Lydia Chinana

Mabel Fragua
Isabel Gonzales
Evelyn Bird Quintana
Romancita Sandoval
Shawn Tafoya
...there’ll be just bits and know, so don’t worry about anything. Nothing is important and nothing is so important that it can’t just enjoy yourself, and let me enjoy hearing who you are and stuff like that. Some of that I don’t know either. First of all what I want you to do is tell me...I know that Mike is your brother, and then I know that Morrison is your

Mike and Morrison are the same person. Dennis is my other brother.

Oh, that I didn’t know, he just finished his fellowship for school and he left us an invitation for Dec. 26 and on it he put Mike or Morrison...and I thought, oh, and when you said Morrison, I thought he was the other brother.

He’s Morrison-Michael. The people who know him from home, and since he was a child is Morrison, and the newer people he’s met, he’s Michael, they call him Mike, so that’s how you’ll distinguish the two, who’s known him the longest.

Okay. Tell me about your family, tell me about your home, about where you come from, about San Juan, and just where you kind of fit into your home community. Tell me about your family, your family now, your grandchildren, your kids, that’s what I want to know first.

Okay. That’s my mother over there. That’s the picture we had at San Juan, but then I brought it here because I’m afraid if anyone breaks in over there I don’t want them to mess it up. And this is my husband’s grandfather on this side.

That’s so neat. Who drew that picture?

A friend of my husband’s. He works for PNM, my husband does. And his friend does pencil drawing, so Ivan took him a picture of his grandfather, so he worked on that for him.

and Ivan Quintana is your husband? And he’s from Santo...

Yes. From Santo Domingo.

That’s fabulous. What was your grandmother’s name?

My mother, that’s my mother. Lorencita Bird. She said she was only about 18 or 19 years old, when she was out in California and this lady wanted to paint a picture of her, and she had her dress up in her whole outfit there. She said that background wasn’t there, she just put it in.

It’s a little fanciful, because if you’re from San Juan, that’s not.

Right, exactly, yeah. Anyway so she said she had that done there. Anyway, I’m from San Juan. As far as, gosh, I don’t know where to start. Ummm..what would be a good beginning?

Well, tell me how you started embroidering.

From my mother. It was from, because she’s the one, she used to be a teacher at Santa Fe Indian School arts and crafts that they used to have there, I don’t know if you knew the building they used to have there. And she did embroidery and drawing and weaving and uh all kinds of arts that she could do. So when I was pregnant with my first daughter, and I was at home, she said you know while you’re here you know not working or anything you know why don’t you try embroidery, because she was working at the Albuquerque Indian School at that time so she wasn’t really into her art yet, so she said I’ll show you how to do some simple little things and you can work on them here.

So that’s how I started, you know, with embroidery was at home. She’d make different little patterns for me, you know and she’d have me doing cross stitch first, and after cross stitch she had me go on to embroidery cause I was learning to count and all that for the other stuff and I started on my embroidery with small little doo-dads for the table and stuff like that. And afterwards she got me into doing like wall hangings and then getting into like table runners where they’re bigger with more stuff. Then we got into doing a project for our house up in San Juan, we were doing curtains, she was doing curtains for the house, and we embroidered all of them. And I did the simple little border that goes all the way down, you know, but we had like four or six of them that I had to do, and she did the other main embroidery on the bottom. and that was my big project at the time. and then we finally went to the first San Juan arts and crafts show, eight northern I guess it is now. But it was in San Juan for the first time, and she said let’s make some stuff up and sell them. Just to see how we do. So she made some things, and I made some little wall hangings and my little lalala, so we went there and sold. And so we did really well you know with everything we sold, you know, people were buying, and she said this is good. So she says, so during the year we’ll build up you know what we’re doing. So she started getting more elaborate with me and we started getting into pillows, and she said then why don’t we try vests you know and things like that. So she started giving me bigger and bigger and larger things to do, And finally she said, this was at San Ildefonso when they first had their 8 northern there, she said, okay this year you’re going to try a manta.

And I said, a manta!? and she said, yeah, I’m going to show you how. You know embroidery, you’re doing well, so now we’re going to put you on a full manta. So that was a big challenge for me because you have to spin your wool yarn, and you’ve gotta get it so it doesn’t unravel and you’ve gotta go through the whole process, and you’re counting and everything else in there, yeah, that was a lot of work. But I got first prize, yeah, at San Ildefonso, I did on my first manta. So that really shot me up there, I thought, Okay, you know I’m doing it. you know and she said I told you you’re getting good now, you know with the tension you know that’s used on the embroidery where it’s not curling up you know and so she says you’re doing good. And she was a stickler for getting it right, she didn’t like messy. She didn’t like you doing it any old way, she had to have it done, and if I didn’t do it right, she had me pick it all out and then start it out and do it. And that’s why now, you know I’m very aware of what I’m doing instead of letting my mind wander like it used to when I was embroidering, and then make mistakes. So now, it’s like, my second daughter is getting in to embroidery but she tells me I don’t see how you can keep the count in your head, as far as what you’re doing she said because I have to keep going back and counting my stitches but then its all just, I guess because I’ve been doing it for so long you know when you start you know you just keep going and going and following and following you know so...

Did your mom make that dress?

um hum. Yes she made that manta.

Do you mind if we take a picture of it before we leave?

Sure. That’s great.

That’s beautiful...that picture is so gorgeous...

Yeah it’s very beautiful.

You’re lucky to have that

Yeah, before she passed away, I asked her if I could have that picture, and she said sure, no one has asked for it (laugh) so Morrison asked for it, and she said I’ve already given it to Evelyn. And then my other brother asked for it and she said No I already gave it to Evelyn.

You’re the right person to have it.


And your mom, where did she learn to embroider?

Hers was the old Santa Fe Indian School when she was going there. She said they would bring in the women from the different pueblos which I thought was neat. And they should show them pottery, and they would show them weaving, embroidery, and even making like the everyday type of dresses for the different dances in the village, and like that. And painting...and what else? oh, carving, woodcarving. She said, they’d bring in all these women from the different pueblos and they’d show them how to do these things, and so she said that’s how she learned from the people who were there, how to set up you know like your designs on your embroidery and things like that and she said from there, she was already good in her art, and that’s when she started putting her designs on graph, graph paper, so that you know because they would take the students, the arts and crafts teachers would take them, to what was it, I forget which museum she said it was she said they’d take them in to, and then they were allowed to go into the back where they had the old mantas and the kilts, and they could, like you had the idea of the designs, and they would sit there make they’re own designs from what they saw and so that’s how she started you know doing that, and then she started making her own designs as well you know that she had in her head, and she learned how to put that on graph paper also. So she’s always said you know they had such a wonderful program for the kids then, you know by learning from the elders, and yeah, the then the museums let them go into the back rooms to see the old stuff.

My mom went to the Santa Fe Indian school, and she learned to sew, you know, and it was amazing because she learned to sew really well.

She was a seamstress, too, my mother.

I know that your mom taught you to embroider, and I know that you mentioned that she learned from the people at the Indian school. Was Lucy L [Lucy Lowden]?

Yes, she was one of the students there too at that time. Like I said, they brought these women in, or these people, from all the you know different villages that came in and gave their time and talent you know to show them how to do things.

And would Lucy and your mom have been contemporaries? Were they about the same age?

Oh yeah. They were very good friends. Very good friends. Because Lucia is the same as my mother with the weaving, and the embroidery and the dolls that she does you know and things like that they both have all that talent you know in one body you know and which is really nice, so they were very good friends.

And, do you, tell me why you embroider, why you continue to embroider. and then also tell me if you think that your daughter, you were saying that one of your daughters is embroidering, do you think she’ll just carry it right on?

Uh, with my second daughter, her name’s Diane, um, she’s...she loves...well, right now the motivation is money for her. But she enjoys doing it, but she’s at the age where doing other things is more important right now. and yes I will get to it, you know, when it’s close to a show, it’s not something that she’ll keep doing during the year, you know type of thing, it’s uh just that type. But she enjoys doing it, and I’m really surprised you know that she kept with it, because my older daughter says, it’s too, uh, how would you say, it’s not moving enough for her, it’s more of a, you know where you have to sit and concentrate and you know doing the sewing, and she’s more into movement I guess, you know, and doing things, you know and stuff like that so she says she doesn’t really have the patience for that type of thing. And my other daughter Diane, you know, she likes doing that type of stuff, and so she’s into it. And she does a good job too, you know, but it’s just getting her to do it is the thing. Yeah, and with me, with embroidery, it’s really calming for me, when I’m working on it, you know I’m like in another place by myself you know when I’m working on it you know, and it just, I just love embroidery. I hate putting things together. but I love embroidery you know. Like with the manta and things like that, where there’s not much machine sewing you know to it, I hate sewing on the machine. And uh with that you know I can go at my own pace, you know, and thinking about the design. I love to do new designs you know that I’m working on and it just, I don’t know, it just gives me a lot of calmness you know in what I’m doing. Especially like during the day you know if I’ve been harried or whatever, you know, and then I know I can just sit down with my embroidery, and it just calms me down you know and I start getting into my groove again, you know with working with it, and it calms me down. I just really enjoy doing it.

That’s beautiful. I love that response. That’s a beautiful response.

I always enjoyed doing it since I learned from my mom.

Yeah. Um, and what about your patterns or you use traditional designs? do you use new patterns? do you make up your own patterns? do you...where do you get your ideas from if you make up new patterns?

Well now, with that, that is all my mother’s. All of her patterns, she’s got, let me tell you she’s got a library of designs. You know, Some are the old ones, you know like I said, from the different museums that they were taken to. She’s got her old ones like that, and uh all her contemporary type designs, and to her traditional designs she’s made herself. I’m just loaded with it. I’m not a designer, you know I don’t think I could make up a design on a graph, but with all that she’s know its that’s why I said I’ve got so many to pick from it’s all new to me you know so everything that I do is fun. I mean, Like I said, I get into that groove, you know and just go because I want to see what it’s gonna look like you know when I get through with it. So I, I have, I will not want for designs, let’s put it that way

What a treasure!

Yes. I’ve got...Jeez, I’ve got so many old manta designs and uh like I said, the ones for, we used to make shirts, you know, and uh Indian shirts, men’s well men’s contemporary shirts. and uh she made a lot of those designs, and I’ve got kilt designs, and oh, like I said all kinds. I’m never going to run out.

How fortunate. How do you judge embroidery work? For example if you look at your own work and then you look at somebody else’s work, how do you, what standards do you use, or how do you judge, I’m not asking you to judge somebody else’s work, but you know what sorts of things do you look for when you think a piece of work, a piece of embroidery is really good?

I think it’s the time they took to apply the yarn and that the yarn isn’t, uh, how would you say, not messy yarn, I mean you know they took the time to make sure that it look nice you know and that their design also is in proportion to what they’re doing, you know, because I’ve seen some that, like on, I look at the dancing kilts during the feasts and different things, you know, that the men are wearing, and some will have you know these huge designs you know on their kilt which, which doesn’t look good you know design-wise and the way it looks on the kilt you know, some are so huge, you know, it doesn’t look nice. In my opinion, anyway, because she taught me you know its you have to look at your proportions of what you’re doing, what you’re working on, ‘cuz you don’t want something to be too small or too big you know on what you’re working on so, she said you always judge that before you start doing, so that’s what I look for too, like I said is that. And then there’s you know the colors, because some people don’t choose the yarn that is uh it won’t bleed, you know they’ll buy something on sale. And so many people have come to me and told me that, you know that they had kilts you know that they’ve bought for like say $25 and I’m always telling them, you know, well you know when you buy something that cheap, you’re buying that. I suppose it bled, right? And they said, yeah, the yarn ran, you know, and some said it bunched up like a ball. you know and I’m saying , yeah, when you pay something like that, you get what you buy. So, but anyway, so, I look at like I said proportion, and I look at the way that its sewn. If they’ve taken the time to be neat about it, you know, instead of rushing through and making something quickly, you know. So you can tell mainly when you look at the design itself, you know, how they’ve done it, you know, if it’s very good, you know, or if it’s one that’s been put together quickly.

did you grow up in San Juan?

No. Morrison and Dennis were the ones that...Indian was their first language. And with me, I was with my mother in Santa Fe most of the time. So I never learned Indian. So anyway, my brothers would come, they would come stay sometimes with us you know in Santa Fe and stuff like that. And my oldest brother stayed with us in Santa Fe. But Morrison always wanted to stay at San Juan. So anyway, but we went home every weekend, so basically I was at home all the time.

Your brother.....he’s a wonderful person. He’s such a nice....and you know there are some Tewa speakers, you know who just speak Tewa so beautifully and when you hear the words and you hear the thoughts that are coming out through the language, and Mike is like that, you know, when he speaks, the words come out so beautifully you know, it’s like poetry. you know, and um when we were little we moved to Taos when I was about 6, and you know I speak Tewa, but not the way that that um Michael...or, you know Lonnie Vigil, Lonnie Vigil has that same manner when he speaks Tewa, oh it’s just so beautiful . I just get so jealous. And maybe men have that way of speaking poetically?

I was just going to say too on that point, when my mother was alive, and I was with her all the time at least I was getting Tewa, and I was being able to put sentences together, you know and things like that. But now that she’s gone, I’m losing it. I’m losing almost all, almost everything that I had gotten, because I have no one to talk to.

and it’s quick


It’s quick, the losing...

Yeah. Just the other day, I was sitting there and I was going, how was it they were saying broom? You know, I was trying to think in my mind you know how they said broom in Tewa. I couldn’t think of it, and I was thinking to myself, I should just call Morrison and ‘cuz Morrison says “call me if you want to talk to me in Tewa” you know, and all this, but it’s so hard, you know., those people are so lucky though that have the Tewa lessons going on up there, you know where they get to learn, you know, it’s sad.

How do you feel, you know, that culture and tradition and family, how do you think they have played a part in your embroidery?

Oh, that’s really played a big important part in my embroidery with learning. Like I said I lived mainly out away from the pueblo, but then with what I learned with embroidery and all that and talking with different people you know that do embroidery, ‘cause we had relatives to that did embroidery they’re gone now most of them you know that did do it. And talking with them about pieces, and them showing me pieces you know that they’ve done you know and all the different old designs that they’ve had, and colors that I knew, that I didn’t know we used, you know like with the blue and the orange and I think it’s a rust color, and I didn’t know that was in there until my cousin showed me hers, and my mother said yeah, you know they used to do that a long time ago, you don’t see it that much, she said, but they do, she said, use those colors.

And what percentage of your things go for traditional or ceremonial use? Do you sell a lot to native people?

Not really. Most of them have gone to collectors. I’d say a few have gone to the villages. you know, but not a whole lot.

So you’re that good?

But as far as the kilts go, the kilts tend to go more for the villages then the mantas, I don’t know why, maybe, I don’t know why that is. But the people will come, I don’t know, maybe the men need it more than the women do. I don’t know. But as soon as the kilts are out, you know they’re gone. They take them. But with the mantas, you know, like I said, those are going to the collectors or the museums, you know, things like that.

But when you’re at the pueblo and you’re watching the dances, certainly you must feel an incredible sense of pride...

Really, you do!

...when you see your manta or your kilt

0:23:34 do, you really do....I’ll be sitting there going that’s mine, that’s mine, that’s know, that is, that’s a really nice...and when people tell you you know that’s so beautiful, that you made this how did you do it, and all this kind of stuff, it makes you feel good.

I really liked it when you were telling me that your mom taught you in a very in a very patterned way. She had you start with small pieces and then you went to bigger things, and then she had you go to curtains, and then she said you’re ready to do a manta, you know. Did she also tell you about different things like this is a cross stitch, this is a pueblo stitch...were those things stated?

Yes, she did tell me you know the different types of things like you said, the cross stitch, you know, and pueblo embroidery, and then she also showed me you know like the white man’s embroidery you know that she also knew how to do that with the things that she did. She showed me all kinds of stitches that were you know outside of our culture and then also what we do. Soo

Um...You were talking about materials and you were saying that some people just use any old kind of materials that will bunch up or bleed. Do you just use wool, or do you use acrylics as well?

With my yarn I do use, I use acrylics, and I use wool, and those are about the two main ones that I use. And but with the wool, that always has to be spun.

And what do you use as the base? Monk’s cloth?

I use monk’s cloth, and I also use cotton, woven cotton material. And then I also have this one woman that I buy like my black material from, like when I make a black manta, I buy from her and that’s all hand-woven that she does.


Yeah. So you have to you know like go out and find your sources, you know, and then with my contemporary work, you know, like with my vests and things like that, I use a linen, it’s a linen blend, because it gives me, because I need to have the weaves with a count, because that’s how I do that. Those I find in the commercial places, you know like Joanne’s and Hancocks and all those places like that, but it’s becoming very very scarce now to find the type that I use, so I don’t know what’s going to happen when that runs out you know but I’ve been lucky you know because I’ve found bits and pieces you know of this and that, and then I go all the way into Santa Fe you know to the Bonanza, outlet there, and I find things there too, but there also, if you’re there at the right time and you look then you find it, but..

Exactly. My sister Luisa and I were going to make something and we went to Bonanza and then just bought whatever they had and then they won’t have anymore...

Exactly. there anything else you want to talk about with about your embroidery, and then we’ll get to the fun part of looking? Is there anything else you want to talk about with your embroidery, or your family, anything else, any other comments you want to make?

Not really. Just with the comment that I hope more people, younger people get into it because, if not you know, it’s gonna be a lost art, we won’t have anymore, you know, and I don’t know if any programs are going on in the villages at all. You know, embroidery for young kids to start on.

Last week we had over at the Poeh Center the Pojaque group with Isabel, and they looked at all the embroidery pieces at the School, and that was really neat. There was young girl there who was, what, about 14 maybe? Then but most of the people were our age, no your age...but they were younger than me, maybe. Probably from about 25 to about 45 maybe in that age range, and there were I think about eighteen in her class. I thought that was really nice.

That’s one thing, you know, that’s why I was telling my daughter you know Diane I said you know you carry it on because I’ve got all of the designs you know, you’ll never run out either, with Grandma’s stuff you know.

Can I ask you something, and if you don’t want us to videotape it we won’t, but can I, can you just show me some of them?

I can show you all of them.

And then if we can we’d like to video some of the things you’re working on that you have, or some of the things you have made, and I’d love to see some of your mom’s.

Oh yeah, it’s extensive with what I’ve got with her designs, that’s why I said I’ll never run out of ideas.

That’s fabulous. I think you’re just so lucky.

Yes, I am. I really am. Because at the convocation too you know with the ladies. A lot of them were disappointed, because they thought we’d be exchanging designs, but like I said with embroiderers they’re, you know, they’re stingy with their designs, they’re not going to just give them out with just anyone, that’s what some of the girls were saying you know, we’re disappointed that’s not going to happen, you know, but, you don’t know what to say.

Well you have to respect people’s wishes in that way, it’s their family pattern, and it needs to stay that way.

Yeah. But I really enjoyed that convocation that we had there. Like I said, I rarely come across anyone who does it, you know, well, like Isabelle and I, you know, she’s the only one I knew who did it, and then to find all these other ladies from Laguna, I mean, Jemez, and I forget where all these other ladies were from, San Juan, but it was nice talking to the older women who were still doing it. And Mrs. Louden was showing us a new way to do cross stitch, you know that she had been doing, well it was new to me because I do the regular cross stitch, you know and she was showing us this other stitch, you know, how to do it quicker. You know, and things like, that’s why I said, the older women had different ways of how they’d done it and they were exchanging that with us. And so I really really had a nice time doing that day and time when we were there.

Well let me see your things.

[break to next scene]

Now I know where he got them.

He wants me to do a black one, and I do not enjoy doing black. It is so hard, especially on this material, because the weave is very very tight. So...

That is gorgeous

The kilt design, like I said.
The way we’re using it, and then on the back.
that’s beautiful
It’s not the traditional colors, but you know like I said it’s contemporary.

Hold this one too. You were mentioning that was a river design.

Um hum. The mountains, and the river, and then the earth. And then the back, also.

And on the back you can see where it’s the earth and the river and the mountains.

These are the two that were left from Indian Market

I can’t imagine why.


Some of this stuff I’ve done, a collector saw this and so he wanted us to do the same thing, so I did.

Wow, that thing weighed a ton, yes after we got through you know because it’s got six pieces to it. And this is not the, its similar to but not the same as what’s at SAR


I can tell there’s a difference, because with the SAR piece there’s a sun. Gorgeous.
The also bought this one.

Are you the only one doing this?

I haven’t seen too many women working on black.

With the black background and then the embroiderer..

And now the same collector wants me to do a black one with the indigo blue on it

You know there’s one at SAR that has a black background and then it has the red borders on the bottom and the top, and it’s laid out in one of those drawers. That is so beautiful. You should come get that pattern.

There’s another one, that went to a museum I believe that one.

So this is folded in half.


That’s gorgeous.


I didn’t get this developed, I should have but I didn’t. I don’t know if you can see it.

Whoa!! I can see it. Oh jeez!! Can you see that? That is unbelievable. Let me see if my hands are steady enough to hold it.
Maybe over towards the wall.
Look at that, that is beautiful. This is gorgeous. Shewww!

I never did have it developed. This is the one they take for you at market. So he’s got these three pieces of mine, and like I said he wants me to do the black one. and I’ll get to that one of these days.

And where do you sit, where do you work? where do you sit and just work for long periods of time?

In the family room.

So you just want someplace that’s comfortable

This is where I come in to cut and finish up, like I said, sewing on the machine, I hate sewing on the machine. And here’s a small manta I’m starting here.

And then that’s a kilt.

That’s a kilt I did for my son.

And now will your son use it? will he dance in it?

Yes that’s what he dances with. I always, my mother said always do the hand braiding on the bottom, never leave it off because some ladies just, you know, they don’t know how to do the hand braiding, and that’s why they don’t put it on.

Well how do you do the hand braiding?

Well with that, well, with me I take two chairs and spread them apart. And I come in and measure my kilt, and I use, I put the yarn out, and I do that, like, eight times, so I’ll know you know that I have enough, and then I go in there and I’ll hang it onto the doorknob, because that’s where I work in there, like I said. And then I....I...I don’t know how to explain it. I take a pencil, and I wind it to where there’s like ten rows that I have, and then from there I start going one way...

It’s like a finger weave.

Yeah. It’s up down up down up down. And then your next row, you go down up down up down up and you’re grabbing the deals at the same time, the same two threads. But you’ve gotta keep your mind on it, because if you don’t, boy, you mess up then you have to go back and try and undo it, and catch where your mistake was, so you really have to concentrate on what you’re doing with that, with that type of finger weaving. Yeah, so.

That’s fabulous. I just want to have a shot of it...and oh, you know a lot of the pieces will have, well most of the pieces at SAR will have that bottom weave. But you’re right, some of them have this edging on them and that’s what you were talking about. Fabulous.

This is what my mother, like I said, she was a weaver, and this is that...fingerweaving also

This is finger weaving?

Yes, that they used to do a long time ago. She made this for my son too and she has the old, um, the uh corn husks...that’s what she made him. I was so glad she did before she passed away, because Morrison’s got his too.

Oh that’s great. That’s really nice.

Yeah, she really thought way ahead of time you know for him, so we’ve got all this stuff for him. And of course the leggings, she does those too.

Did she crochet, too?

Umhum, my mother did everything she knew how to do, so. And, well, I think that’s it. Well this is the one like I told you I’m going to be working on with the indigo. This is the one I told you my friend wove?

Oh. Oh. Oh. This is heavy, a heavy cloth.

This is the indigo I’m going to be working with.(shows yarn)

Wow. That’s beautiful.

That’s my next project.

Have you done one of these before?

No not with the dark. you know, I’ve done the red and green, but not the dark. And these are...

My gosh. This is, you know, this is far beyond what I expected anybody to be able to do.

And I want to show you, this is the one my mother, the one she’s in the picture with? I think it’s this one, yeah, this one here.

And look at the back. The back is so perfectly done.

This is what uh, my daughters wear....I’m not a dancer, they are. Yeah, she made this. She won first prize on this one at the State Fair, would you believe a long time ago...

My that is beautiful...

But my dilemma is, to get it clean, you know, to get it clean. But I hate to take it to a cleaners because I’m afraid they may take it, you know, because so many people have told us you know that the things they take in don’t come back.

But you know, in some way, it just becomes more earthy to me with the you know the discoloration and the chili stains, and I know you can’t be too careful, but in some way it just seems to me to be beautiful with the stains on it. So maybe you don’t have to worry about it so much.


But that’s gorgeous.

So the girls use this all the time when they dance different things, you know, at home....and let me show you the designs. Like I said I have a zillion of them here.

You can look through.

I’m so anxious to see fingers are just.....


So she did, she made all of these.

Yes, these are all her original designs.


She was into everything. boy, my Mom could....

and so this would just be at the center of the manta, and you just go that way.

You also need to have the top here. That’s for a small manta there.

So when do you think she was doing these designs?
When do you think she started?

Ever since she was in high school.

So that would be like in the thirties?

Yeah. And see these are cross stitching here that she’s got.

And a deer?

um hum

And her counts?

Um hmm.

My goodness. My goodness.

Yeah, like I said these were her original designs you know that we used on different things.

Wow. She was really far sighted.

Um hmm she really was. That’s why I’m hoping that my daughter will carry on, you know.

But you know, I don’t know these should of course stay in the family, but then you think they would be treasures for a museum to have

I was just telling Morrison the same thing, I said, if ‘cuz Carmella is not really into it, his little girl, ‘cuz I was asking her, do you want to learn how? you know And she said, no. She’s more into drawing and painting and things like that. And so Diane like I said is the only one who’s doing it now, as little as she does, but, um, I don’t know. ‘Cuz I was telling Morrison, what do we do, you know, with all of Mom’s designs? And he said, well, there’s always museums he said.

Well remember us...


Because these are just unbelievable.

That’s why I said, she’s got so many. I’ve used these on vests, too, and different things, you know, because like I said, you can combine you know whatever. This what we had on our shirts that we used on shirts. And these are some of the diamonds for the mantas. Same thing here. She was going for the one, you know, on the 26th? For the turtle dances, these are the head dresses they wear.

And she used these drawings for the tablecloths....and we used this, we used to make a circular blouse, and this went on the...down here...and then this had a pull string here to gather.


And these ones, these ones are the ones for the kilts.

So these are all kilt designs?

um humm

And did she ever talk about the meaning of the designs?

Uh, yeah. This is always the rain, you know down this way. And then the black red and green for the earth, and then the rain, and for growth. She’s always told me that.

The poor thing, she’s trying to get a picture of that.

This is the design I’m presently working on.

could you move over there by the window, because you’re in the bright light....

This is beautiful...this one is different, in that spacing. And this is, the colors are different in this one, you get the..... get the...

Wow. I’m really very envious.

That’s why I’ve said, she’s got enough, I’ve got enough designs to last forever.

Yes you absolutely do.

And then I make purses too....

This is a neat pattern....

And I’ve seen one at SAR that has that diamond pattern on it, but they’re not, it’s not common like this.

This one is in my opinion a quick design. You know, because there’s not much too it. It’s mainly borders, you know, I usually use mainly as borders on clothing

Are you fast? How fast do you work, like if you’re making a kilt? How long does it take?

A kilt. With my grandson being here, I’d say, close to three and a half weeks, which isn’t very fast, but like I said, it’s because I have to work in-between him.

And a manta?

Oh god. A manta takes me a year, like I said because of that, for the same grandson you know.

But I know you wouldn’t give up your grandson for anything...

Oh no

Not for all the mantas in the world.


He’s a handful sometimes. but...

These are the, uh, the ones they use for the...uh the Hopi rain sash? This one is. And the one that I showed you, the shirt, the Hopi manta, I mean the Hopi shirt that I showed you? That one is embroidered, it’s not woven. Because mainly that’s a woven type of thing, that type, the sash. But that one is a technique for doing the embroidery, that my mom has, for embroidery, that looks like it’s woven but it’s not, it’s embroidered.

Do you know my sister Luisa? Okay, she’s my oldest sister, and she’s actually my mother’s first cousin, and her parents died when she was young, and she came to live with us, and she’s my older sister. Her father was from San Juan, his name was Louis Cata, and she has sisters there whose names are, um, one of them used to work at the day school, and right now all of their names are going out of my head,


Yes, Frances.

They live right next door to us.

Yeah, okay, those are her sisters. They were her second, um, when her mother died, he was married in Santa Clara, and when her mother died, he went back to San Juan and got married again. And so that’s my sister Louisa’s other family. But my sister Louisa is really into weaving, and embroidery. And she would just...just die to see this.

And this is for a very small manta also.

You know this design is different too.


This is beautiful. The design that goes in and in.

And this is the other part that goes into the little manta. The piece I made for SAR is more of the eight northern pueblos like we do, you know, that is solid geometric. And the ones with the diamonds are more of a Hopi manta.

Did you make the little one, the green manta?


It is just gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

So I thought figured, well to represent our pueblos in that way, I’ll do that, in the northern way.

It is very northern traditional.

And this is for a vest, this sort of plant design that she made for that. And the back’s there.

And this would be the corn, the plant growing up?

Um humm...


This looks the same, doesn’t it, the plant..

Um hmmm...

Those are all for shirts, but I use them now for vests too.

Now did your mother ever say, whether or not she used everyone of these patterns?

She never did say, but I, like these ones, the newer ones, we did, because we have them on all of our shirts that we used.

I’m just wondering if you could have a lifetime, and be able to do, you know, like you were saying, if you could do all of these in a life time?

I don’t know. ‘Cause a lot of people, when you go to the arts and crafts shows, when you have a design like this, do me one just like that, the same colors and everything, you know? And we’re going like, we could do....different

And it would be just as good...

Yeah, but no, they want it just like that one.

Yeah, because they see that and they like it so much. And in a way you can’t blame them because they can’t see that, they don’t have the vision. Oh, this is beautiful.

Yeah, everyone likes that design. That’s the one Morrison has, I don’t know if you’ve seen the white one that he has, but that’s the design.

Beautiful. Nice. Very nice.

Well when I’m getting ready for market, I just pull them out.
These are the cross stitching in this book.

That is beautiful.

Um hmm..

You know the other problem is that you can hardly find this kind of graph paper anymore.

And she did beading, so these are beading designs, because she did beading also.

She was very clever.

And these are beading also here. And these are the ones we use...we were making little ornaments also. And so at that time I asked her, I said I want a drum. So she made me an Indian drum. And so we have the little corn dancer. And I think she made a little boy too.

This is just unbelievable to me.

And I use the corn a lot in my cross stitch too. Because like I said you can use the whole thing or just the corn itself. Whatever you want to use.

I love using her on purses too.

A little pueblo corn dancer...neat.

And these are the ones I use on my purses, these designs here.

They’re edgings, huh?

Yes. That’s another vest there too. And the one in the back, that’s my daughter’s Indian name. Her name is [quami tum] and my mom says that’s the little basket they have at the top of the pole on feast day, so she made that for her.

And that’s one of my little purse designs there.

And you know are most of these, are these her notes?


Isn’t it nice to have that? Every time you must look at these, you must think of her, and her writing notes in, these are, amazing.

She wanted butterfly ideas, and she was just thinking thinking thinking thinking, and she finally came up with them.

It’s unbelievable though, that her brain could work like that. And look at this!

I’ve made this for a wall hanging.

And this too...

She gives you spacing, and gives you everything you need.

I love the way she does the solid things.

I just love this bird, The two birds back to back.

That’s one of the little purse designs.

Do you have any of your purses?

No, they always sell.

These are some more of her beading designs here. Her beading...

Isn’t that cute? W3 did that as a wall hanging of that too. This is my first, the one I was telling you about, my first wall hanging that I attempted? And that’s it. Sold it for $25 dollars. Money just does something to you, doesn’t it?

Yes. Yes, it’s like me with, I haven’t made a pot since Indian Market, but Heard is coming, I’ve got to get ready for Heard...three months to go! That’s so neat.

Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful.

0:00:00 can mix and match the borders

That’s unbelievable!

I forget how she had those...but these are all like I said different pieces...I need the floor when I’m doing this


See this here...I’m not sure how she had this...

There are two designs going here....

Like I said, I need the floor...


See they, like I said, I have to lay it out on the ground for myself when I’m starting it so I see what I have.....there’s all these different pieces you can add with or not...these two....

Somehow they go together

Like I said there’s different pieces, these are for the top of the manta

And then this, somehow you can do the bottoms with the tops...

The different colors....see this one here goes with this one I said all these are all either ones she’s made on her own or with the museums, as a young girl...

Jeez....jeez these are gorgeous!

all kinds that she’s got here...that’s a butterfly. Then you have the solid...

I’m wondering if these go together...

Well she’s got them also...with her I said you can mix and match if you want to, however you want to make them....

And then I also have the uh .....

I’m going to put these together so they don’t....

This is nice, with the flowers....

I’m trying to find that cross stitch one that she made, for a manta, for a manta design....

These are for the black ones I told you!

You did tell me, but it didn’t occur to me that it was....

I did large, didn’t I? ... There’s different ones in there that...

I could see that....

Since she was a seamstress, she could do anything. I just love doing the embroidery, so I was happy.

Good heavens....

This is for the shirts....

The star design...

That’s the brocade sash...


This is the one I did in those colors I told you about, the blue, and the green...


They live up in the mountains and they can’t get in. They’re from Georgia...

There’s so much snow I wasn’t sure I could get in....

She said they can’t get into their yard...

Yeah, so that’s the black there.

These are fabulous...

And like I said, that one is the cross stitch...

Thank you thank you...for showing us, because I just wouldn’t have imagined this...

I wouldn’t either! When you told us.....can you just say, these are the patterns for the mantas.....

These are the patterns for the mantas....

I’m impressed with your work, and I’m so impressed with what your mom did. Becasue this is a treasure, this is museum stuff, what represents a life, a life, you know, and to you it must be this just incredible treasure because it was your mom. And yet when I see it, I think, that’s the stuff, the kind of stuff, that museums die for. Yet to you it’s even more.

Yes, and it’s funny, when I’m getting ready for market or the Heard, and I come in here you know and when I’m starting to sew you know, and I’m standing here you know and I say “Mom, guide me!” ‘cuz like I said I hate sewing on a machine. I’m fine with embroidery. you know I can do that, but the sewing with a machine, I hate it! I hate it with a passion. And my girlfriend says, that’s why you hate it because you have that negative attitude, but I don’t care. So I’m in here saying Mom, help me! And my husband is so funny, ‘cuz when I’m getting ready for the market or the Heard, he doesn’t sit anywhere near here. He knows what kind of mood I’m in. If I’m putting stuff together, he stays clear, he doesn’t try to bother me for anything.

[to photos]
that face... I remember...that face seems...look at this..

She was the potter....I was trying to teach my grandson to say.....say’yah(?) Janet goes no mom, say’yah...

Well, I tell my little girl, you call me say’yah, too...

That’s he was from San Juan too?

Yeah, Juan Biatincio (?)

wow, neat...and the old style with the

He always had braids...

The people from Taos, the men from Taos, still do that, you know, but you rarely see that....

At home, nobody dresses tradition anymore. All of them are gone that did. So they don’t have anybody left that does it anymore....

Oh, did you want to see what I was working on?

Hey Jeanne? She’s going to show us what she’s working on...

I’ve already finished the fronts. This is on that ...

So this is the front

Yeah the front of the vest, the two fronts, and this is the back here that I’m working on .

so you don’t have to go always up down up down up down. You can actually leave this and then fit in.


I had always just, with the little embroidery that I’ve done, I’ve always just gone up down up down, without having to change the threads, but you’ve made this easier.

It’s just with this, with this with your step part, the inset part. The red part.

But that does make it easier because you don’t have to do a black thread and then a red and then....

No because it stops here, you know at this point anyway.

Beautiful. Gorgeous. Very very very nice. Very nice.

That’s what I’ve been working on. Trying to get done before Christmas. It’s an order. But he’s a big man.

When you have to get it done, you’ll get it done. That’s just the way it is.

[change of room]
[text below with image of framed drawing]

wow. wow. I love that. I love that that style, from that period....jeez that’s gorgeous....

I used to make those shirts, the white ones, and she did them all by hand, even the little tucks you know how you have them up on the neck and the sleeves. All by hand. I think we’ve got one that she made still...and my mother never did, she said my grandmother taught her pottery, [now image is on framed painting] but she never liked pottery. That’s the only medium she didn’t enjoy, she did everything else except pottery. She said she just couldn’t get into it.

Well we can forgive her one thing!

The basket up there is from my great great great great, I think, uncle, he was the basketmaker from San Juan....

What was his name??

I have no idea. My mother was the one who was telling me, she gave me his Indian name but I forget what it is.

That’s beautiful. You’re lucky to have that.....I’m going to listen or look up some information because there were some ladies from San Juan talking about their grandfather who was a basketmaker, and maybe they might know, and it was a red riddle (?) basket they were making...

They give her a piece to look at, everybody’s wearing the white gloves you know, my mother’s going, yah yah, this one is....and she’s going yah yah yah you do this one, this one is...she’s telling them how to do it

You know what I think that’s absolutely okay. Because people come to the school all the time, and the old people will go up to the pots and they’ll go...

Artist Profile | Embroidery | Transcript | Video       
  School for Advanced Research