Skills Courses






Southwestern Primitive Pottery with John Olsen

(Class limited to 12 students)
March 27-29
Tuition: $595
Instructor: John Olsen

Primitive Pottery
Although pottery was made and used by indigenous peoples around the globe, perhaps nothing personifies the ancient Southwest quite like its world renowned pottery. It’s beautiful line work and shape, and designs that defy description were common all over its desert and mountain regions. Now you can experience what native peoples in the Southwest have known for centuries to create beautiful and functional pottery! 

Learn how to identify and collect native clay and tempers, how to process and age the clay, and how to make clay and temper. Experiment with various construction methods such as coil, scrape, paddling, pinching, and learn how to add attachments to various shapes. Decorate the pottery by learning Southwestern design elements and painting using yucca plant brushes and natural pigments. Learn about the wood firing process with cottonwood and pinyon pine, the how to’s of proper oxidation and reduction, and how to make and use a primitive pottery kiln. Go home with pottery that you’ve made yourself just as it was made thousands of years ago!


Catching Critters: Primitive Hunting and Fishing Techniques

(Class limited to 12 students)
Not offered in 2020...please check back next year!
Instructors: Cody Lundin and Mark Dorsten

Unlike a modern survival scenario where getting rescued is the name of the game, indigenous peoples in days past lived off the land. Depending on the bioregion, once basic needs of shelter, water, cutting edges, and fire are met, procuring food becomes a priority. Catching Critters explores several methods of “making meat” used by indigenous peoples around the world. Expand your hunting and gathering tool box of food gathering know-how from traps and spears to fishing techniques.

Passive Hunting Tools: (procuring food while you sleep.) Learn several trigger mechanisms such as toggle, notched and treadle and lever that can be inter-mixed with deadfall traps, twitch up snares and drag snares. Create a willow fish trap, different styles of fish hooks, and primitive fishing line and tackle.  

Active Hunting Tools: make and use the throwing spear and fishing spear for small game, and practice with the ALSS atlatl sets, bolas, and rabbit sticks.

Hunting Tool Methodologies: how to notch and fletch arrows and spears, practical prongs for the fishing spear, lashing spear tips, recipes for pine pitch glues, making pitch sticks for glue on the go, and using fire to dry and straighten wood shafts.

Wild Life Etiquette: recognizing wildlife sign, de-scenting and camouflage, dealing with animal diseases and the legal ramifications of trapping.

(some cross country hiking required)