Anasazi Pottery: How To Make Clay Pots In The Bush

How Did Our Ancestors Make Clay Pots?

Asking the question “How do we make clay pots outdoors?” or “how to make clay pots in the bush?”, naturally brings us to the question of “how did our ancestors make clay pots?”

This last question is one often asked, particularly in the field of “primitive skills” and bushcraft as well as archaeology.

Before we had metal cooking pots, what did people use to cook, to boil water, to mix medicines?

There is much in survival literature about making bark containers and adding hot rocks to bring water to the boil. This is certainly viable with the correct materials in an appropriate environment but is certainly not a universal technique.

After a certain period of history there are many fragments of pottery in the archaeological record.

Our ancestors certainly made good use of pottery, right around the world.

Clay is a relatively common resource and once humans had the ability to control fire, they had the means by which to create pottery from clay.

How To Make Clay Pots In The Bush: Kelly Magleby, Artist Shows How

In the short, poetic video above artist and traditional craftswoman Kelly Magleby visits the backcountry of Southern Utah to learn and practice the indigenous Anasazi pottery skills.

Equipped with only a knife and a buckskin, Kelly obtains the materials she needs from clay to fire-lighting materials from the bush.

She produces some beautiful yet practical items of Anasazi-style clay pottery in the process.

Kelly says:

“I love the fact that you can go into the wild with nothing and get all you need to survive and even flourish from the earth. The idea that you can go out and dig up some “dirt”, shape it, paint it and fire it all using only materials found in nature is amazing to me.”

You can see more of Kelly’s work at

2 thoughts on “Anasazi Pottery: How To Make Clay Pots In The Bush”

  1. Hi Paul, Thanks for sending this to me. This is a great film depicting how people did/can make useful pottery containers from local resources. I remember at junior school we had a teacher from Trinidad who showed us how to make these “coil” pots. Watching the film brought back some happy memories.
    All the best to you all, Dave.

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