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Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez

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The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Povika Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her ko-ōo, her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them--and Maria--famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity illuminates how Maria's belief in sharing her love o The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Povika Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her ko-ōo, her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them--and Maria--famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity illuminates how Maria's belief in sharing her love of clay brought success and joy from her New Mexico Pueblo to people all across the country.


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The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Povika Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her ko-ōo, her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them--and Maria--famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity illuminates how Maria's belief in sharing her love o The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Povika Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her ko-ōo, her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them--and Maria--famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity illuminates how Maria's belief in sharing her love of clay brought success and joy from her New Mexico Pueblo to people all across the country.

30 review for Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mutually Inclusive

    Shaped By Her Hands by Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales is a wonderful picture book biography following the life of Maria Martinez, a Native American artist who gained international recognition for her unique black-on-black pottery. Growing up in San Ildefonso Pueblo, Maria learned the art of pottery by watching her Aunt Nicolosa. Mixing clay with water and volcanic ash, Maria learned how to shape pots, and eventually began firing them. Maria and her Aunt were passionate about keeping the Shaped By Her Hands by Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales is a wonderful picture book biography following the life of Maria Martinez, a Native American artist who gained international recognition for her unique black-on-black pottery. Growing up in San Ildefonso Pueblo, Maria learned the art of pottery by watching her Aunt Nicolosa. Mixing clay with water and volcanic ash, Maria learned how to shape pots, and eventually began firing them. Maria and her Aunt were passionate about keeping the Tewa traditions alive and were always sure to thank Mother Earth for the clay she provided, and prayed before firing their pots. Maria continued making pots as she grew up. She married Julian Martinez, who helped her experiment in recreating traditional black pottery at the request of archaeologist Edgar Lee Hewett. With their trial and error, Julian and Maria created something similar to the traditional pottery, but also completely unique that had never been done before. The pots sold quickly, inspiring Maria to make more. Julian painted the pots, creating stunning black-on-black designs. Shaped By Her Hands is not just a picture book biography, but a wonderful story of both learning and sharing traditions. I loved the way the illustrations by Aphelandra capture Maria’s remarkable life. I would like to thank Albert Whitman & Company for providing me with a review copy of Shaped By Her Hands. I am so excited to share Maria Martinez’s inspiring story. Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Storygraph

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Grover

    Maria Martinez was the most famous Native American Indian potter of her time. She perfected a firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, marketing them and Maria famous. This book was co-authored by Marian’s great-granddaughter. I really enjoyed learning about the potter, Maria Martinez and the Tewa people of San Idefonso Pueblo. “The San Ildefonso Pueblo is surrounded by mesas and mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although today residents live in modern homes, the community m Maria Martinez was the most famous Native American Indian potter of her time. She perfected a firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, marketing them and Maria famous. This book was co-authored by Marian’s great-granddaughter. I really enjoyed learning about the potter, Maria Martinez and the Tewa people of San Idefonso Pueblo. “The San Ildefonso Pueblo is surrounded by mesas and mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although today residents live in modern homes, the community maintains a connection to their traditions, and the clay from Mother Earth.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    A wonderful and engaging picture book biography! This book followed the life and craft of Tewa potter Maria Martinez. It gives not only a lovely introduction to the work of Martinez, but also to the Tewa people, the legacy of Native American Indian arts, and even the process of traditional pottery making. I particularly enjoyed the celebration of tradition and the examination of the ability to reinvent tradition to create something meaningful for past and future generations. The illustrations in A wonderful and engaging picture book biography! This book followed the life and craft of Tewa potter Maria Martinez. It gives not only a lovely introduction to the work of Martinez, but also to the Tewa people, the legacy of Native American Indian arts, and even the process of traditional pottery making. I particularly enjoyed the celebration of tradition and the examination of the ability to reinvent tradition to create something meaningful for past and future generations. The illustrations in the book are a beautiful palette of warm browns and turquoises reminiscent of the arts and landscapes of the Southwest.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aolund

    Beautifully written and illustrated, this biography of Tewa potter Maria Povika Martinez was informative and inspiring! Written by Maria Martinez's eldest great grandchild in collaboration with a descendant of the Osage Nation who worked in art and multicultural education, the text is rich and well-researched, telling about Maria's youth, her process of learning about Tewa pottery traditions, and her career as a potter. End notes provide further information about Maria, the Tewa people, and the Beautifully written and illustrated, this biography of Tewa potter Maria Povika Martinez was informative and inspiring! Written by Maria Martinez's eldest great grandchild in collaboration with a descendant of the Osage Nation who worked in art and multicultural education, the text is rich and well-researched, telling about Maria's youth, her process of learning about Tewa pottery traditions, and her career as a potter. End notes provide further information about Maria, the Tewa people, and the authors.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Offsay

    Don’t miss this fascinating new picture book based on Native American Indian potter, Maria Poveka Martinez. Martinez’ story begins as a young girl with a passion for pottery encouraged by her aunt. As Martinez grew so did her passion which eventually lead her to discover/create the entirely new twist on her classic pottery for which she is famous. This is an inspiring story which highlights themes of family, tradition and creativity. Please note that I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader Don’t miss this fascinating new picture book based on Native American Indian potter, Maria Poveka Martinez. Martinez’ story begins as a young girl with a passion for pottery encouraged by her aunt. As Martinez grew so did her passion which eventually lead her to discover/create the entirely new twist on her classic pottery for which she is famous. This is an inspiring story which highlights themes of family, tradition and creativity. Please note that I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader copy of this beautiful new book in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie Vick

    A compelling story about Native American Indian potter Maria Martinez and the unique shiny, black pottery pieces she made. I loved the unique story and illustrations and the theme of persistence. I could see the story working well in classrooms and inspiring young artists. Note that I received an advanced ARC copy of the book and know one of the authors. Knowing a little about how the book was created, I appreciate the attention to detail and accuracy that went into telling Maria's story. A compelling story about Native American Indian potter Maria Martinez and the unique shiny, black pottery pieces she made. I loved the unique story and illustrations and the theme of persistence. I could see the story working well in classrooms and inspiring young artists. Note that I received an advanced ARC copy of the book and know one of the authors. Knowing a little about how the book was created, I appreciate the attention to detail and accuracy that went into telling Maria's story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Serena Gingold Allen

    I really enjoyed reading this book and learning about an amazing woman and her work. It was so interesting to learn about the Tewa people and their traditional techniques for shaping clay. I love the messages of hard work and patience that run throughout the story. This would be a great book for use in the classroom. The illustrations are lovely and bring the Maria’s story to life. The back matter and the author’s notes were also very interesting. I would definitely recommend this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Hartman

    I was fortunate enough to view an early PDF ARC of this book, and loved it. I'm not going to lie that I have a soft spot for the arts and pottery, and this fascinating view into the life of an unsung female pioneer of pottery and clay arts who simultaneously crafted her own style while bringing the historical clay firing abilities of her people to life is so intriguing. A not to be missed book for the budding young artist in your life! I was fortunate enough to view an early PDF ARC of this book, and loved it. I'm not going to lie that I have a soft spot for the arts and pottery, and this fascinating view into the life of an unsung female pioneer of pottery and clay arts who simultaneously crafted her own style while bringing the historical clay firing abilities of her people to life is so intriguing. A not to be missed book for the budding young artist in your life!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura Roettiger

    I enjoyed this beautifully written book about potter Maria Martinez. The sense of culture and strong family ties in this book are inspiring . I love the way we learn how the secrets of skilled pottery were handed down from one generation to the next. The illustrations are beautiful and add to the feel of New Mexico in this new picture book biography. Highly recommend this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Pease

    Maria Povika Martinez was one of the most famous Native American potters because she created the shiny black on black pots, while growing up amongst her native Tewa Pueblo People. The Co-authors bring this interesting and carefully researched historical to life with luminous illustrations by Aphelandra. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Annamarie Carlson (she, her)

    Meet Maria Martinez, a famous Native American potter. Maria grew up learning technique with her aunt before making her own style through turning the pots black and shiny. A well-written and fascinating biography.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Adams

    Inspiring story with some great rep/info about Maria Martinez and the Pueblo. Illustration was fine but nothing exciting. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie Hedlund

    Fascinating book about Native American potter Maria Martinez. The themes of family, tradition, and creativity are fired together nicely, and the illustrations are lovely. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maria D'alessandro

    My 5 yr old and I love this book. The warm, gorgeous illustrations match the writing perfectly. A wonderful picture book biography to share with young artists and creators and a lovely addition to a school library as well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anna Sthesia

    Whoa, what a great story I just read. I suggest you join NovelStar’s writing competition, you might be their next big star.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Gaum

    This was a really nice book about a relatively-unknown Native American potter. The artwork was lovely. I looked up images of Maria Martinez's pottery online after reading and was quite impressed. This was a really nice book about a relatively-unknown Native American potter. The artwork was lovely. I looked up images of Maria Martinez's pottery online after reading and was quite impressed.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    An endearing, illuminating biography of an iconic creator, emphasizing the importance of sharing knowledge across generations.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Caufman

    A good book to read with a study of the southwest. Would be great to make clay pots after reading :)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Louise Blackwick

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kirbie Sondreal

  22. 4 out of 5

    Quintina

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laura Mossa

  25. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alexx Conrad

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Robinson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Conner

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