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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014


Gualala Arts Workshop
Mata Ortiz Pottery
with Master Potter Jerardo Tena
Instructor: Jerardo Tena

Saturday - Sunday, March 16 - 17, 2013
10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

To register
Call Gualala
Arts Center

Jerardo Tena with olla
Register by:   February 15, 2013
Tuition:   $130 members; $150 non-members
Materials fee:   $25 to instructor,
all materials provided

Join Master Potter Jerardo Tena to learn the pottery techniques of Juan Mata Ortiz, Mexico.

Internationally recognized for their pottery, the potters of Mata Ortiz have revived the ancient art of the Paquimé people, a civilization that flourished in the area 600-800 years ago. As if guided by the spirit of the Paquimé Indians, a struggling pueblo has become a community of fine ceramic artists renowned the world over.

Jerardo will teach you the burnishing, painting and firing techniques used in Mata Ortiz to create his "ollas," or pots. Jerardo will make an olla using a coiling & pinching method used by the potters of Mata Ortiz and then the workshop participants will have a chance to make one of their own with his help. He will show how he sands, burnishes and paints the ollas using human hair brushes. He will also fire an olla. You will create your own olla and (time permitting) you may even create your own human hair brush for painting ollas.

Jerardo Tena & Jaguar Pot Jerardo will also show a video about the potters in Mata Ortiz and how they first started by trying to duplicate the pottery of the ancient Paquimé Indians who were cave dwellers who lived in that area 800 years ago. Joann Cassady, a well known Healdsburg CA potter, will accompany Jerardo and act as his translator if necessary.

Don't miss out on this very special class and an opportunity to learn from one of the leaders of the Mata Ortiz phenomenon.

About the Instructor

Jerardo Tena is from a small pueblo in Northern Central Mexico named Juan Mata Ortiz that is located less than 100 miles south of the U.S. border. The pueblo is internationally recognized for their pottery that is made totally by hand. The clay is collected in the surrounding area where they live, processed by hand, and they make their beautiful pottery using a coiling and pinching technique. After drying, the ollas are sanded, burnished with a polished stone and then painted with natural oxides using only a human hair brush. They fire their ollas using either cow dung or wood in a single firing that lasts about 30-45 minutes depending on the color of clay.

Jerardo Tena was born in Ejido Hernandez, Chihuahua, Mexico in 1973 and moved with his family to Juan Mata Ortiz when he was seven years old. He began working with clay by helping grind the clay used by his uncle, Félix Ortiz, who was one of the original Juan Mata Ortiz potters. He learned pottery decoration from his mother Sofia Sandoval de Tena, who was born in Juan Mata Ortiz.

Jerardo Tena Jerardo is known for his miniature, animal and effigy figures. He has shown at the Jesse Peter Museum in Santa Rosa CA, the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and many other locations in the U.S. He has given classes and demonstrations at the Sonoma Community Center Ceramics Department in Sonoma, CA, Clay Planet in Santa Clara, CA, the Healdsburg, CA studio of Joann Cassady, Walnut Creek Civic Arts Center Ceramic Department in Walnut Creek, CA, Diablo Valley College Ceramics Department in Pleasant Hill, CA, Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA and Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA.

Jerardo has been quite successful at the Juan Mata Ortiz Concurso, their annual pottery competition. In the Zomorfas (zoomorphic or animal) Category he won 1st place in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2011, 2nd place in 2000 and 3rd place in 2007. In the Diseños Mimbres Category (painted Mimbres designs) Jerardo won 3rd place in 1999. In 1998 he won an Honorable Mention in Miniatures, 3rd place in 2006 and a 1st place in 2011. In 2006 he won 1st place in Nuevos Diseños Category (New Designs) with "The Quails," 3rd place in 2009 with "Quadrito," a square piece made to hang on the wall, and 3rd place in 2007 with "The Armadillo."

Turtle, by Jerardo Tena   Man & Jaguar, by Jerardo Tena

Jerardo teaches groups in different cities such as Mexicali and Ensenada, and various universities in Mexico. He teaches how to prepare the clay and make, paint and fire the ollas. He is currently passing on the tradition to his daughters Mariela and Edith and son Jerardo Jr. Jerardo's wife, Norma Hernandez de Tena, was born in Colonia Cuauhtémoc in 1975 and moved to Juan Mata Ortiz when she was 15 years old. Her father Amado Hernandez and her mother Gloria Estela Lucero de Hernandez are also potters. She specializes in miniature ollas and helps Jerardo with design and painting. Read an in-depth profile of Jerardo and his family.

For more information about this workshop, contact Doric Jemison-Ball or Jane Head.

See also: Gualala Arts Workshop Registration, Payment & Cancellation Policy.

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.