Advanced Polychrome Pottery Making Class

Advanced Polychrome Pottery Making Class

When:October 21 – 25, 2021
Where:Chihuichi Ruins (an unexcavated Salado era ruin)
Instructor:Andy Ward
Student Limit:8

This is an outdoor, socially distanced pottery class with a small class size.

This intensive five day Arizona pottery workshop will provide a solid foundation in understanding prehistoric Southwest polychrome pottery and how it can be recreated today. Participants will focus on how to find and process slips and paints from native clays and minerals as well as how to apply them to pottery. We will cover the entire process from digging our own clay, hand coiling pottery, stone polishing, painting and slipping and finally firing our pots in an outdoor fire. The whole class takes place outdoors near an ancient ruin, so we will be socially distanced and working in very similar conditions as the ancient potters.

A work table with student's replica pots in various stages of production.
A work table with student’s pots in various stages of production.

Class Includes

  • All materials
  • Lunch fixings on 3 days (21, 22 & 23)
  • A pottery making toolkit that you can keep, one gourd rib, one polishing stone and one puki. ($55 value)
  • Hike to dig wild clay
  • Visits to prehistoric ruins
  • Field trip to collect minerals
  • One year of full access to all online pottery classes on ($105 value)
  • Camping on site, lodging is available nearby for those that want a more comfortable bed.
coil pottery manufacture

Coil Pottery

hand painting replica pottery

Decorate Pottery

open outdoor pottery firing

Fire Pottery

Technologies Covered

  • Coil and scrape pottery making.
  • The use of natural clay slips, mineral and organic paints.
  • Stone polishing pottery.
  • Painting with yucca brushes.
  • Firing pottery in an outdoor, open wood fire.
  • How to collect and process wild clays and minerals for pottery production.
Workshop students digging wild clay
Students digging clay

Class Schedule

Thursday, October 21
Hike out to dig clay and process it into useable clay. Explore the ruins, look at prehistoric sherds and talk about how to reproduce the pottery we see. Begin forming a small bowl.

Friday, October 22
Finish forming bowl and begin forming larger jar. Field trip to some local mines to collect minerals for paint. Talk about how to make paint. Begin slipping and polishing pottery.

Saturday, October 23
Finish up pottery, polishing and painting designs. Discuss pottery firing, the science, chemistry and considerations. Perform a small firing and discuss.

Sunday, October 24
Let pottery dry completely before firing, go on field trip to tour Amerind Museum, have lunch at local cafe and visit another local ruin before heading back.

Monday, October 25
Fire student’s pottery first thing in the morning. Class should finish 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.

workshop students pottery heating around the fire
Student pottery heating in preparation for firing

The Venue

The class is taught next to the ancient ruins of Chihuichi near the western flank of the Chiricahua Mountains. This village was occupied from about 1330 to 1400 by the Mogollon Culture. This is a primitive venue, we will be outdoors almost all day, there will dirt, uneven surfaces, sun and off-trail hiking. Camping is available on site at no additional cost or there are bed and breakfasts nearby. This is a wonderful opportunity to get an idea what life was like for the people that lived in southeast Arizona centuries ago.

west slope of the Chiricahua Mountains near Turkey Creek
The class takes place in the beautiful west slope of the Chiricahua Mountains.

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.

workshop student's pottery
Students with the pots they made.


“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


Camping is available on site for workshop attendees at no extra cost. There are several bed and breakfast nearby, they are listed below.


The site is about an hour and 40 minutes from the Tucson International Airport so if you are planning on flying in you will probably need to rent a car. If you are planning on driving in we are about 40 minutes south of I-10 at Willcox, Arizona.


If you have any questions before you can commit for this workshop please contact Andy, the instructor 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.

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