Ron Carlos won’t let traditional Native American pottery techniques die

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Ron Carlos, a member of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian community, is the last traditional potter in the community.

The few potters left, including those who taught Carlos, have mostly passed away or are now too old to craft these works of art. Carlos says it’s a tradition that he doesn’t want to be lost, so he does what he can to continue it and teach it to others.

Scottsdale Public Arts often displays his work in their galleries. Every now and then he’ll hold a workshop to share his knowledge with others.

“I think I make good pots,” Carlos says. “I know there are better potters, but I’m okay with them putting me in there and saying I make good pots. I just don’t want it to seem like I’m showing off.”

Carlos says the act of making the pot itself is the easiest part. It only takes about an hour or two. After the pot is shaped and made, he paints them with clay and put them in the fire. Sometimes he can spend a lot of time on one piece only to have it blow up in the fire.

“It’s a part of me now,” Carlos says. “It’s a huge portion of my life. I don’t know where I would be if I wasn’t making pots.”

Carlos’ next event will be on Friday, April 13 at the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix. It’s a four-day workshop across two weekends in April. He’ll teach those who attend the entire process: processing raw clay, paddle and anvil forming, painting and firing the pottery. All materials will be provided. For more information, go here.

Ron Carlos: Native American Potter
Wendy Raisanen: Curator, Scottsdale Public Arts

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