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Smoke on the Mountains
Discovering the Secrets of Mayan Potters

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Free demonstration/lecture by "Wolf" Milavec

Sinclair Community College; Bldg #13; Room 307
19 Oct 2004, 5:30-7:00 p.m. & 20 Oct 2004, 9:00-10:30 a.m.

My modest objective was to discover how pottery was routinely made by Mayan potters for two thousand years without a potter's wheel or modern kiln. Ever since Cortez subjected and decimated the Mayan peoples in the sixteenth century, Spanish porcelain has been used and fashioned by the colonizers. No one seemed to know, however, where the traditional Mayan potters were at work . . . . Slowly but surely, I discovered their remote villages, out there beyond the ends of the bus lines, where the smoke from the wood kilns hung on the mountains. The methods used staggered my imagination. Using simple ready-made tools--hands, feet, water-soaked rags, volcanic rocks, kiln-fired forms, and adobe-brick--these potters replicated the masterful arts passed on to them by their ancestors. It is this ancient art that I intend to document, to duplicate, and to honor.
(See details at www.didache.info.)

After breakfast, Juan prepares 100 pounds of moist clay from dry powder. He mixes the fibers of ten cattails into the clay. Then he kneads the total into five twenty pound "loaves."

Then he uses his foot to compress and expand each "loaf" into a thick "pizza." His toes remain on the outside as he spins around the "pizza" forcing the clay to the outside.