Andy Ward
traditional SW pottery

Mesa Grande Salado Pottery Workshop March 2017

This class is over, sign up for my pottery workshop mailing list to be notified of future classes.

When: March 8 – 12, 2017
Where: Mesa Grande Cultural Park, Mesa, Arizona
Instructor: Andy Ward
Cost: $385
Limit: 12 students
Includes: All materials, lunch each day, field trip to dig clay, guided tours of prehistoric ruins, field trip to Tonto Cliff Dwellings, Besh Ba Gowah and other nearby ruins.

Experiencing this intensive five day pottery workshop will immerse you in the ancient world of the Hohokam and Salado and the beautiful pottery that was made and traded in this region between 1275 and 1450. The people who lived in central Arizona known as the Salado produced some of the finest prehistoric examples of decorated pottery in the Southwest before they moved on around 1450 AD. During the course of this workshop we will explore the mysteries of the Salado phenomenon, examining ruins and artifacts left behind, talk with experts about how they lived, made pottery and where they went to, take a field trip to dig native clay, authentically craft Salado style pottery, paint, polish, decorate and finally fire in an outdoor mesquite fire, all done just like the ancient potters.

student scraping a pot at 2016 salado pottery workshop

A student scrapes a pot she made in the 2016 Salado polychrome workshop


  • Forming pottery using the coil-and-scrape technique
  • Slipping and painting pottery using native clay slips, mineral and organic paints
  • Polishing pots using smooth stones
  • Painting traditional designs using brushes you create yourself from yucca leaves
  • Firing our pottery in an outdoor, open, mesquite wood fire


pottery workshop student painting pot

A student paints her pot with authentic natural paints in the 2016 Salado polychrome workshop

Field Trip: collect clay near the Salt River
Return to MG and process clay
Lecture: Ancient Native American Pottery of Arizona
Begin forming pots

Finish forming pottery
Field Trip: tour the pottery collections at Arizona Museum of Natural History
Scraping and smoothing pottery

Polish pottery
Begin painting designs on pottery
Field Trip: Pueblo Grande Museum

Field Trip: Besh Ba Gowah and Tonto Cliff Dwellings
Finish painting pottery

Fire pottery
We should be done by noon

Participants in the 2015 pottery workshop at Tonto cliff dwellings

Participants in the 2015 workshop resting inside Tonto cliff dwellings


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.


A fascination with the sherds and pottery found near his home in Southeast Arizona motivated Andy Ward to begin trying to reproduce prehistoric pottery while still in High School. Now, after more than 25 years of effort he frequently teaches pottery workshops all around Southeast Arizona and Southwest New Mexico. The focus of Andy’s pottery is on the polychrome styles native to Arizona, Salado polychromes, Maverick Mountain Series and Babocomari Polychrome. 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.

You can see photos of how he creates pottery and gathers raw materials at


“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

An authentic pottery firing

An authentic pottery firing

“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

See photos of Andy’s October 2016 pottery workshop at Q Ranch >

– See more at:

Class Presentations


Subscribe by Email >>

Related Posts

About Andy Ward

I am an independent researcher, writer and artist interested in all things Southwestern. Southeast Arizona is my home and area of primary interest.