Photo courtesy of the Center for American Archeology.

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KAMPSVILLE - The Center for American Archeology will host a Wild Clay Ceramics Workshop for community members who want to learn more about harvesting and working with wild clay.

From Aug. 8–11, 2024, people are invited to the four-day workshop at the Center for American Archeology (CAA) in Kampsville. Attendees will harvest clay, sculpt their own coil pots and fire the pots. Kathryn Chapman, who often hosts clay workshops with CAA, explained that the workshop will give people a better understanding of Illinois’s natural clay deposits and how humans have used clay to build tools and ceramics over the centuries.

“The Center for American Archeology was founded in 1953, and it has operated on a mission of promotion of education, research and public outreach in the field of archeology since then,” Chapman explained. “We really, really, really want people to come and take part in this and learn.”

Tickets to the workshop cost $100 and there are 11 open spots. People are invited to stay in the CAA’s dormitories or camp near its property during the workshop, or else they can drive to the CAA every day. The workshop is for ages 12 and up, and minors must be accompanied by an adult. Every day runs from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and lunch is provided.

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Ceramicist Kyle Bird will teach the workshop. Chapman regularly holds similar workshops with kids and adults, but she noted that this four-day workshop is more involved.

On day one, students will learn the basics of working with clay and make a coil pot. On day two, Bird will teach students how to find and harvest clay near the CAA. A ceramicist and an archeologist will team up on day three to give a presentation about how ancient humans used clay. On day four, students will actually fire their pots and take them home.

“Our workshop is going to be much more in-depth and cover much more of the skill and nuance of making pots, with finished products so people will have really beautiful things when they’re done,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun, it’s a great learning time, and it’s just something different.”

While the workshop promises to be enjoyable and educational, Chapman noted that it’s about more than making pots. The CAA is interested in human history and ancient lifestyles. This workshop will encourage participants to think about these topics.

“It isn’t just the excavation part, but it’s the studying of humans and humans throughout time. Those are all our ancestors, and recognizing all of our similarities helps us to approach new things and new people with open eyes and open minds,” Chapman added. “It’s really important that we let people know that archeology is important, knowing our past is important, and the skills that people have had since the very earliest people are also important. They’re fundamental to who we are as humans.”

For more information about the Wild Clay Ceramics Workshop, visit the official Facebook event page. You can also check out the official Center for American Archeology website at CAA-Archeology.org.

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