The Museum of the Red River will hold a free pottery class on March 9. Attendees will learn and utilize two basic hand techniques—pinching and coiling. Participants can drop in and drop out from 10 am to 3 pm. The workshop is part of the Museum’s “Fun With” program, a series of classes designed to connect people through art.
Pottery is one of humanity’s oldest inventions. It predates agriculture, alcohol, and even the construction of large-scale settlements. This is probably due to one thing: clay. Unlike other soil deposits, clay exhibits high degrees of plasticity when mixed with water. However, it becomes firm after exposure to heat. Moreover, clay is usually found near water—a vital resource for any long-term settlement. Given those factors, it’s unsurprising that clay-based pottery was developed (relatively) early. (Fired pottery was invented at least 12,000 years ago. However, the use of unfired ceramics goes back to 29,000–25,000 BC).
Individual types of clay respond differently to heat. Preparation, shaping, elevation, and the heating method also affect the finished product. As a result, there are countless regional variations of pottery. Fun with Clay attendees will use a commercial-grade clay and two hand techniques—pinching and coiling. The pinching technique is simple enough that even young children can learn it. The coiling method is also easy. However, those who master it—like Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo) or Jeri Redcorn (Caddo)—can produce stunning, one-a-kind ceramics. The workshop will take about 1.5 hours to complete.