Wild Clay 101

Wild Clay 101

Knowing how to find and process wild is a hard thing to learn without a teacher. I am contacted by people frequently about this so I know it’s a serious problem especially for those just getting started. In this course I will explain what clay is, how it is formed and what different types of clay deposits are out there. Then I will take you out into the field around the American Southwest to look at over 20 different natural clay beds. This is the kind of help that you need when starting out but is hard to find, seeing clay and being taught what to look for and how to tell if it is good. I will then cover how to process wild clay to make it usable for hand-building or throwing. When you are done with this course you will know how to locate and process native clay like a pro anywhere in the world.

Natural Clay Video Trailer

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testing natural clay for plasticity

You Will Learn:

How to identify clay as it exists in nature, recognizing it by the texture or color of the soil.

What tests can be performed on wild clay to know if it is suitable for pottery or sculpting.

How to turn found clay into a usable material suitable for art and craft projects.

What minerals you should avoid in your clay body and how to identify them.

Plus, get support from an expert as you learn. The author of this course, Andy Ward will provide personalized help and answer your questions as you progress through the Wild Clay 101 course.

a freshly processed block of found clay

Course Objective

  • What is clay
  • About the different types of clay
  • What tools are available to help locate clay
  • To identify native clay in the field
  • How to test wild clays 
  • Different ways to process clay
  • What temper is
  • Some materials commonly used for temper
  • Problem minerals to avoid
  • How to process temper
natural clay being dug from the ground

After finishing this course you will be qualified to locate natural clay and process it into a workable material practically anywhere in the world.


Take this Course

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.