Plain and Utilitarian Pottery Making Class

Plain and Utilitarian Pottery Making Class

When:March 18 – 22, 2021
Where:Chihuichi Ruins (a large, unexcavated ruin near the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains)
Instructor: Andy Ward
Student limit:8

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

This intensive five day pottery class will focus on the basics of primitive, hand-built pottery. We will study ancient pottery sherds in the field at a ruin, then apply the lessons learned to actual hand-building pottery using similar tools, materials and methods as the ancient potters. This class will refine your techniques of hand-building pottery using the ancient coil-and-scrape technique. This class will cover the entire process, including digging clay, making coil pottery, polishing pottery and outdoor firing. 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.

Two culinary shoe pots cooking parolee in hot coals
Culinary shoe pots cooking pazole in hot coals.

Class Includes

  • All materials
  • Lunch fixings on 3 days (18, 19 & 20)
  • Hike to dig wild clay
  • Visits to prehistoric ruins
  • Tour of the Amerind Museum.
  • A complete potter’s tool kit; gourd rib, polishing stone and puki. ($55 value)
  • One year 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.
Students digging clay.
Students digging clay.

Technologies Covered

  • Processing wild clay
  • Coil pottery making
  • Stone polishing pottery
  • Firing pottery in an outdoor, open wood fire
Pottery class participants with the pots they made.
Pottery class participants with the pots they made.

Class Schedule

Thursday March 18
Form a small bowl in the morning, then hike out to collect clay while the pottery dries. In the afternoon we will finish up our pots while we process the clay we gathered.

Friday March 19
Start forming large pot with clay collected on Wednesday. Visit ruins of Chihuichi after lunch, discuss pottery technologies observed in the sherds there. Finish up jars in the afternoon.

Saturday March 20
Fire the pottery we made on Thursday. Finish the large pots started on Wednesday. If time permits visit other nearby ruins and collect clay from other nearby locations.

Sunday March 21
While our large jars dry we will drive up and tour the Amerind Museum, have a picnic lunch there and visit another nearby ruin as time permits.

Monday March 22
Fire the large jars in the morning and say goodbye, class should be done around noon.

Enroll in this Class

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

A culinary shoe pot being formed
A culinary shoe pot being formed

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, primitive toilets, 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.

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.

Students pots being sealed by boiling cornmeal.
Students pots being sealed by boiling cornmeal.


“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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *