A Study in Clay: Ancestral Pueblo Pottery Workshop

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A Study in Clay: Ancestral Pueblo Pottery Workshop

May 31 - June 6, 2020 

Earth, water, fire, and air combine in the making of pottery—one of the most enduring of Southwestern arts. Pottery making on the Colorado Plateau is a tradition that started nearly fifteen centuries ago, when the ancestral Pueblo people began making vessels in the shape of gourds. By the thirteenth century, their pottery had evolved into many beautiful styles, including Mesa Verde black-on-white, the type of pottery we emphasize during this program. As the ancestral Pueblo people moved south into the Rio Grande, Zuni, and Hopi areas, exposure to new clays and local cultural influences brought about dynamic style changes that have today evolved into the diverse styles found throughout the modern pueblos.


  • Create your own vessel in the Mesa Verde black-on-white style using native, carbonaceous clay and the coil-construction method.
  • Construct your own yucca paintbrush and utilize paints made from local vegetation to paint your vessel. 
  • Finish your piece by firing it in a traditional outdoor trench kiln that you helped construct!

A Study in Clay: Ancestral Pueblo Pottery Workshop

  1. Scholars
  2. Accommodations
  3. Is This Trip for You?
  4. Terms & Policies

Gregory Wood Gregory Wood (BFA, ceramics), an ArchaeoCeramist™ and art educator, has worked with clay for forty years. As a fifth-generation Colorado native, his ongoing work and research with archaeologists, museums and on-site in the nation’s Four Corners region have taken on a very special meaning. He blends his powerful interest in archaeology with ceramics, producing “true,” near-flawless pottery replicas. He works without the benefits of metal, commercial materials, modern equipment, or fuels; Wood has a strong commitment to using only prehistorically available native materials, tools, and techniques, which has earned him a reputation for archaeological authenticity. Through his interpretive exhibits, workshops, college courses, and pottery making, he spreads his message of protection and preservation. His research has led him to remote locations in the American Southwest, Puerto Rico, and Central and South America, with his recent endeavors centering around ceramics outreach work in Mexico.


(Julián on left; Gregory on right)

Julián Alejandro Hernández of Nuevo Casas Grandes is a preeminent pottery expert focusing on the Casas Grandes and Mata Ortiz pottery traditions. A self-taught ceramist, he has a specialization in Paquimé ceramics focusing on the rescue of iconography, designs, styles and elaboration of the ancient pottery of this culture. He has written two books about the art and archaeology of Paquimé in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico. He is a working potter who started the first pottery school in Nuevo Casas Grandes. In addition, he is the director of the Francisco Villa Preparatory School.

The Ghost Ranch

The Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center is surrounded by magnificent, multilayered cliff walls, red hills, and expansive mesas and bounded by old cottonwood trees and mountain views in the distance. There is endless beauty around every bend in the winding roads leading to the property. The Ghost Ranch philosophy is committed to spiritual development, peace, and justice; honoring the environment; and celebrating art, culture, and nature. People from throughout the world come to this location to create art, to embrace the outdoors, and to research globally renowned archaeological sites and fossil quarries. The landscape of Ghost Ranch was even the inspiration for Georgia O’Keeffe’s famous paintings. Guests enjoy traditional southwestern residences, a private art studio, and hundreds of acres of trails to explore at their leisure.


There is no experience required for this program. All tools and materials will be provided, and your scholar will guide you throughout the design and creation of your pottery. There is minimal hiking involved in the program unless you choose to explore the surrounding trails in your free time. You should be comfortable sitting in a chair for extended periods of time as you work.


The elevation level for this trip is 6500 feet. We recommend ramping up your exercise regime prior to arrival and arriving a day or two early to acclimate, especially if coming from sea level. Adequate hydration and time for acclimation will minimize the most effects of altitude. If you have any questions, please contact your physician.

Remote Facilities

Facilities and amenities will be available for the majority of the trip. Anticipate bus rides of up to two hours with visits to rural areas and pueblos. Effort will be made to utilize mostly modern facilities to keep this trip as comfortable as possible.

Cultural Sensitivity

This trip includes visits to rural areas, where traditional American Indian families welcome us as guests into their homes; however, the majority of your time will be spent working on your pottery at Ghost Ranch. Please be respectful of any and all rules during the program. The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center practices “visiting with respect” with each and every home and family. There may be instances where you are invited into a home or a studio. Please know that these can range from very simple accommodations (i.e., toilet facilities may be an outhouse) to those with modern facilities. Guidelines will be provided to help you prepare for this journey. Please keep in mind that alcohol is strictly prohibited on both tribal lands and at Ghost Ranch.

Hands-On Work

This workshop is designed as a cultural immersion opportunity that provides you with insights into traditional pottery techniques to create replicas of ancestral Pueblo pottery that are true to the originals. Elements of the program involve sitting, standing, and the ability to bend over. All tools and materials will be supplied for you to create your pottery.

For further information on the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center’s Terms, Conditions, and Cancellation Policies please click here. You will find details on tuition, cancellations, travel insurance, accommodations, medical information, and more.

Tuition & Registration

Single Tuition
Member*: $3,980
Non-Member: $4,105

Shared Tuition
Member*: $3,500
Non-Member: $3,625

Deposit (due at time of registration): $1,500
*If you are interested in becoming a Crow Canyon member, please contact our Enrollment Specialists.

Registration Deadline and Balance Due in Full: 2/1/2020

To Register:
Call: 800-422-8975, ext. 457
E-mail: [email protected]