Helen Tafoya – Jemez Potter

Helen Tafoya-Henderson is a native from “Walatowa”. Helen learned the art of working with the clay from her mother Vangie Tafoya, also well-known amongst the potters. Helen was taught at an early age, helping her mom clean and mix the clay. Soon she started to form her own pots, with some help from her mother. Helen started her own family and moved away from her parents and decided that it was time she created her own style and her own version of the unique pottery that she now produces.

Helen now is well-known for the Hummingirds that she puts on her pottery and completes her piece of pottery by putting a stone into the hummingbird’s eye. She uses either turquoise, mother of pearl, onyx or other stones. She is also a collector of hummingbirds herself and says the hummers have brought her luck. Helen’s great-grandmother was from San Ildefonso Pueblo and married into Jemez Pueblo. She also did pottery, the black on black well known at San Ildefonso. She taught her children to do pottery and the art has been passed down to each generation. Helen is very happy that she got to know her grandmother and cherishes the memories she left behind.

Helen is married to Jon Henderson and they have 4 children. They all help Helen in any way they can. They also make their own pots. Helen encourages them to do the best that they can because it takes a lot of practice and patience to make a pot. Helen wants her children to learn and appreciate the tradition of how pottery is made.

Helen is very proud of all the pottery she produces. Each pot is very unique and a contemporary expression of an ancient tradition. Helen does 4-6 art shows a year and her pottery has gone all over the world. Helen also competes with other potters at various art show that do judging on art work. When Helen entered her first pot for judging, she received a 3rd place ribbon. Soon she started getting 1st and 2nd place ribbons and other awards.

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HOEL'S Indian Shop
9589 N. State Route 89A
Sedona, AZ 86336

Daily Hours: We offer showings from 9:30-5:00 most days. Please call ahead to confirm availability.
Phone: 928-282-3925


DRIVING DIRECTIONS We are located 10 miles north of Sedona on Highway 89A. You will cross “Hoel’s Wash Bridge” at milepost 383.9. We are just past the bridge on the creek side of the highway. If you come from Flagstaff, we’re just 18 miles south. We will be on the creek side just south of milepost 384.