Black-on-Black Pottery

Black-on-Black Pottery lesson plan

Discover the famous black pottery of New Mexico! These drawings capture both the matte and shiny surfaces of these unique pots.

  • 1.

    Around 1919, black on black pottery was developed by a Pueblo woman named Maria Martinez, and her husband, Julian. Before they discovered this beautiful art form, they had been successful potters, creating beautiful polychrome (many colors) pottery.

  • 2.

    Black on black pottery is still produced in the villages of San Ildefonso, where Maria Martinez lived, and Santa Clara, New Mexico. It is collected by people from all over the world because it is so beautiful.

  • 3.

    Research the artwork of these two villages. You will find that the delicate pottery is made by carving designs into highly polished black pottery. These designs are left with a dull (matte) finish, which contrasts with the shiny surface. The main difference between the pottery of the two villages is the thickness of the pottery walls, with the pottery of Santa Clara being the thicker of the two.

  • 4.

    Make similar pottery designs with a matte surface and shiny designs. To create your own patterns for Black on Black Pottery, cover your work area with recycled newspaper. Use black Crayola® Tempera and Paint Brushes to fill a sheet of white construction paper. Dry.

  • 5.

    Look at examples of black on black pottery for ideas about the shapes of this pottery and the designs etched in it. Fold the painted sheet in half. Use Crayola Scissors to cut several balanced pottery shapes from the paper. The fold will be at the center

  • 6.

    Open the pottery shapes. Use a silver Crayola Metallic Colored Pencil to draw authentic designs on your black pottery.

  • 7.

    With a Crayola Glue Stick, mount each of your pottery pictures on white paper. Trim the paper very closely to the image. Glue to a colorful construction paper background. The white paper brings out the form of each piece of pottery.


  • Children research the black pottery of Santa Clara and San Ildefonso, New Mexico.
  • Students identify traditional matte-finish designs used on this shiny pottery.
  • Children create a picture of the black-on-black pottery.


  • Use black Crayola Model Magic to sculpt your own black on black 3-D pottery.
  • Research the symbols used by the traditional potters in New Mexico. Choose symbols that tell a story on your pottery pictures.
  • Help younger children and those with special needs better understand the delicate art and science of making pottery. Visit a potter to see each step in the process.
  • Find examples of similar black on black pottery made by Mexican artisans. How is this pottery similar to the New Mexican work? How is it different?