In 2003 an informal group of archeologists, potters, replicators and just people interested in the processes and materials used to create ancient pottery of the Southwest met in Old Leupp Arizona for what became the first gathering of the Southwest Kiln Conference. This event has been held nearly every year since then at various sites in the American Southwest. In 2014 our group will hold the conference in Tijeras, NM. We will be sponsored by the “Friends of Tijeras Pueblo” who, in partnership with the United States Forest Service (USFS,) engage in educational activities and programs to bring information to the Public on ancient Puebloan culture in and around Tijeras. Our group invites previous participants as well as new artists and others with an interest in prehistoric pottery to bring pieces to this event and fire them using a range of firing methods and fuels which include trench, pit and surface kilns.
The event will be held over a three day period, beginning on Friday evening, August 29 and concluding on Sunday August 31, leaving Labor Day September 1 as an optional extra day in the event of rain. We will have the Forest Service campgrounds as our base camp and firing area. We will be able to gather as much wood as we need from the forest, so plan to arrive a bit early on Friday to help. If you require special fuels such as coal, dung or corn cobs make sure to bring your own.
We will begin the conference on Friday morning, August 29, and continue on through the afternoon with speakers and presentations from various participants speaking on ancient pottery production, the history of the SWKC, individual pottery making technique, and a host of other subjects. We will then meet at the Oak Flat Picnic Grounds after these presentations are finished for a meet and greet session with all participants. We will have an evening barbecue and pot luck followed by whatever topics of conversation that ensue.
Presentations and demonstrations of painting and vessel construction techniques are scheduled for Saturday morning until lunch. After lunch we will assemble to fire the kilns. Our firings generally take place in a clearing with an area of about 40 feet by forty feet in size free of grasses and brush. The major reduction firing requires excavating a trench that is roughly four feet long, three feet wide and about 18 inches deep for the production of black-on-white pottery, featuring both mineral and organic paints. There may be as many as four other surface firings requiring a 4×4 foot area each, which are fired in oxidation. The timing of these firings is staggered and usually completed in a four hour time frame. Because these firings produce a considerable amount of flames with chances of sparks and cinders, the hope is that late summer monsoons have brought good moisture to Tijeras.
On Sunday we will open the kilns, smile or moan, and spend an appropriate amount of time entertaining discussions on our successes and failures. After that will join a field trip to a local clay source, led by a local archeologist who thinks this source is the one used by the Pueblo. Santa Fe black-on white is believed to have been made at Tijeras Pueblo and is also one of the first sites to have glazed wares. It promises to be one of the highlights of the conference.
There is a $25 suggested donation for those folks wanting to either conduct their own firing or to contribute pots to be fired. This covers the cost of a tee-shirt, which is designed uniquely for each event, and food for the barbecue. You also may be asked for a voluntary $2-$5 donation for the Friends of Tijeras Pueblo in support of on-going stabilization activities at the Pueblo. Please see sign up sheet for mailing information.
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!