Spring Ancient Pottery Class at Mesa Grande Ruins

Spring Ancient Pottery Class at Mesa Grande Ruins

This workshop is FULL. Please see my next polychrome pottery workshop which will be held at Q Ranch, Arizona over Labor Day weekend, details can be found here.

When:March 11 – 15, 2020
Where:Mesa Grande Cultural Park, Mesa, Arizona
Instructor:Andy Ward
Student limit:12

This intensive five day pottery class will immerse you in the ancient world of the people who lived in Central Arizona in the fourteenth century and the beautiful pottery that they made. Participants in this workshop will explore how these people lived and worked, examining ruins and artifacts, digging and process native clay, minerals and other raw materials and making pottery authentic to the ancient traditions.

A prehistoric pottery class student working on a hand coiled pot
A student works on her pot

Class Includes

  • All materials
  • Lunch on 3 days (11, 12 & 13)
  • Field trip to dig wild clay
  • Guided tours of prehistoric ruins
  • Behind the scenes tour of the pottery vault at the Arizona Museum of Natural History.
  • A pottery making toolkit that you can keep, one gourd rib, one polishing stone and one puki. ($29.25 value)
  • A free t-shirt commemorating the 2020 Mesa workshop
  • One year full access to all online pottery classes on ancientpottery.how ($175 value)

Form Pottery

Decorate Pottery

Fire Pottery

Skills Taught

  • Coil pottery making
  • Decorating pottery with natural clays, minerals and paints.
  • Stone polishing pottery
  • Painting traditional designs using brushes made from yucca leaves
  • Firing pottery in an outdoor, open wood fire
a group of ancient pottery workshop participants
Last year’s Mesa pottery workshop participants

Click here to see more photos of last year’s workshop.

Class Schedule

Process wild clay, then form a bowl and a jar using the coil and scrape method.

Scrape and smooth pots, tour the pottery collection at the Arizona Museum of Natural History while the pottery dries, then come back to slip and polish pottery.

Finish polishing pots then paint designs on pottery using organic paint with yucca leaf paintbrush.

While pottery dries fully we will take a field trip to collect clay near the Gila River and tour Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

Fire pottery in the morning. Class should wrap up around noon.

Enroll in this Class

Cost is $385, a $100 deposit will hold your place. Sign up soon because space is very limited.

Students dig clay during an ancient pottery making workshop
Digging clay on the banks of the Gila River

The Venue

One of two Hohokam “great mounds” in the Salt River Valley, the Mesa Grande mound was a dramatic symbol of the power of this ancient community. The village surrounding the mound once covered over one-half square mile and was home to perhaps two thousand Hohokam. Situated near the headgates of one of the two largest networks of irrigation canals created in the prehistoric New World, the site of Mesa Grande controlled over 27,000 acres of highly productive farmland. The City of Mesa purchased the Mesa Grande ruins in the 1980s to preserve Mesa’s premier cultural treasure and to open it to the public as an educational and recreational facility. Visit the Mesa Grande web page.

Arizona Museum of Natural History pottery collection tour
Behind the scenes tour of ancient pottery at the Arizona Museum of Natural History

About the Instructor

Andy Ward began reproducing prehistoric pottery in high school, now more than 25 years later he teaches pottery workshops throughout Arizona and New Mexico. The focus of Andy’s pottery is on polychrome pottery types of the prehistoric Salado and Mogollon people. He has taught prehistoric pottery workshops for the Silver City Clay Festival, Archaeology Southwest Preservation Archaeology Field School and Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, among others.


“As a former ceramics major in college married to an anthropologist, I found your class enlightening as well as very fun… My experience of local pottery has been so enriched by the experience of your class. Keep up the good work!!”
Carol D. Tucson, AZ

“Not only is Andy Ward an excellent potter, he is also an excellent teacher. His workshops on recreating ancient Native American pottery of the Southwest are superb. Participants experience the full range of pottery production from processing clay gathered from natural sources to forming the vessels, decorating them, and firing them. He teaches the practices of ancient potters, using the same tools they used. I have taken two workshops with Andy and plan to take others when the opportunity arises. It is more than a worthwhile experience.”
Sharon M. Tucson, AZ

“Andy’s class was one of the most fun and educational classes I’ve ever taken. I learned a lot about the history and different types of pre-historic pottery made in Arizona, the various methods used to form, finish and fire the pots, and was able to practice what I learned and make a pot of my own! And Andy is as kind as he is knowledgeable. I am not an “artsy” type and Andy was very patient with me. His encouragement, enthusiasm and love of traditional Southwest pottery-making is contagious. Everyone is the class was thrilled that they took it!”
Roberta G. Tucson, AZ

Lodging Options

Mesa Grande Cultural Park is near downtown Mesa, Arizona so there are many lodging options nearby. Check out the map at the following link for a listing of lodging options near the venue Mesa Lodging List

There are also AirBNB options nearby that some of my students have used in the past. You can explore those possibilities by following this link.

Transportation Options

The main airport in Phoenix, Sky Harbor International Airport is only 13 minutes away from Mesa Grande where the class will be held. So taxis, Ubers, city busses and car rentals are all viable options. We will be carpooling to our field trip locations so you will not need to have a car available during the workshop.

Questions and Comments

If you have questions before you can commit to this workshop feel free to contact Andy using the contact form on this website.

I've been making primitive pottery since I was a teenager in the 80's. My work focuses on reproducing the polychrome pottery styles made in the American Southwest during thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. I have taught workshops and lectured at venues all over the Southwest. When I was learning to make pottery it was very hard to find the information I needed, so I created this website to make the technology of southwest pottery readily available to all.


  • My husband and I just signed up for the Salado pottery class in March. We’ve never been to the area before and wonder where you suggest people should stay? Any other travel or local info would be appreciated. We’ll be coming from Pittsburgh., PA. Very excited about this opportunity.

    Julie Zavon Reply
    • Hi Julie
      The Mesa Grande Cultural Park where this workshop takes places is near downtown Mesa, Arizona so there are plenty of lodging options nearby and it is also not far from the Phoenix airport.

      You might try a website like TripAdvisor to locate a hotel or maybe AirBNB

      Feel free to contact me directly at andy@ilabmedia.com if you want.

      Andy Ward Reply
  • Andy why is it hard to get into my free classes after taking Ancient pottery Workshop? I want to review.

    Lynn Holmes Reply
    • Please email or call me about what problems you are having

      Andy Ward Reply

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