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Cahuilla-Style Pottery (Paddle & Anvil Pottery)

Pottery making has thrived in Southern California for millennia. In a virtual and screen-obsessed world, get hands-on and learn how to harvest and make clay, then create the beautiful ollas used by the Cahuilla people of Southern California to store food and water. In addition to learning traditional Cahuilla techniques in ceramics, you will get a peek into other ceramic methods that have made both prehistoric and contemporary Indigenous ceramics from the Southwest celebrated around the world.

On day one of this workshop, you will take a field trip to clay sites on the Mountain Cahuilla Reservation, where you will learn how to extract the clay from earth deposits carefully. In the afternoon, you will begin processing the clays for pottery making. For the next two days, you will make pinch pots and coil pots using the paddle and anvil technique, using both collected clay and other clay samples that Tony will provide. 

You will learn to make the natural pigment paints used to decorate the pots, and finally, fire the pots. Tony will discuss various topics throughout the workshop, including making and using a simple urban brick and charcoal briquette kiln, paintbrush making, fire-starting by friction, and making palm frond rings (pottery stands). On the last day of class, you will work with Tony to create an outdoor kiln and fire your pots. The course culminates with unearthing your beautiful finished ceramic works of art.

For the field trip portion of the workshop, be sure to bring:

  • 4-5 large ziplock bags
  • Sun hat
  • Water bottle & plenty of water
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Work gloves
  • Comfortable walking shoes or boots for rough terrain


  • Small portable lamp (clamp is best)
  • Seat cushion

Tony Soares learned the fundamentals of pottery from his grandmother at age 7, starting more than a 40-year journey to revive the fading art of olla making. Though not of Cahuilla descent, he advocates reviving the art of Cahuilla pottery making through his experimentation with local clays and Indigenous hand-building techniques. Tony’s pottery is in art galleries, museums, and personal collections around the country, including the Tahquitz Canyon Museum. Tony shares his knowledge with local tribal communities and the general public to ensure that Native American pottery making is never lost. He has taught at many venues, including the Agua Caliente Band of the Desert Cahuilla of Palm Springs, The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ, and the Yuman tribes of the Colorado River, AZ.

Instagram: @tonysoarespottery

Native American & Inland Empire Teacher Scholarships 

Generous donors have made scholarships and fellowships for adult workshops available on a limited basis for these specific groups:

1) Native American Community Leaders, Artists, Members, and Teachers

2) Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

Scholarships include tuition, dorm housing, and all meals provided by the campus dining service.

Scholarship Details: 

1) Native American Community Members, Leaders, Artists, and Teachers

For adults 19 and older with current tribal affiliation, the scholarship brings community leaders, artists, members, and teachers to workshops at Idyllwild Arts to benefit both the scholarship recipients themselves and those in their schools or tribal communities. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. We also offer scholarships for Native American Teens for both the Summer Program and the Academy.

2) Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

For teachers and graduate students from the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and the adjacent areas), this scholarship brings teachers and graduate students to Idyllwild Arts to attend Native American Arts workshops. The Native American Arts Workshops benefit both recipients and their students and communities, providing culturally appropriate instruction and professional development to teachers and graduate students. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. These scholarships are made possible through the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.

Click here for more information about adult scholarships.

Age: 19 years and above

Dates: June 13-17, 2022

One-week session

Tuition, room, and board: $1,515

Day student tuition: $790

Lab Fee: $65, includes materials and use of a personal set of tools; you may be asked to bring additional materials.

Skill Level: All levels

Enrollment is limited to 10 students.

Note: This year’s field trip will be an organized group event. Participants will need to follow all Covid-19 protocols set in place if using IAF transportation. Students who wish to drive on their own are allowed. 

Faculty: Tony Soares

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