Crafting Prehistoric Jewelry

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Crafting Prehistoric Jewelry

The making and production of jewelry in the American Southwest begins in early agricultural settlements and becomes more complex and artistically advanced through time and space. Archaeologically we see the beginning of shell and stone jewelry mass production within the Hohokam culture. Motifs representing religious ideology becomes prominent and soon spreads to other cultures in the American Southwest where emulation occurs. To this day decedents of prehistoric people still make jewelry similar to what their ancestors crafted and relied upon for 1,200 years. In this extensive 1 day workshop join Jeff Martin from Primitive Lifeways where he will take you through the process of crafting pottery using Native clays identical to what prehistoric people used.


When and Where?

On Saturday August 7th starting at 10:00am We will craft our pottery under the cool ramadas at the Willow Lake pithouse sites at Willow Lake. We will first meet in the Parking lot at the Heritage Park Zoo. This zoo will come up on GPS when using Google or Apple Maps to navigate.



This single day workshop will cost $40.00 per person. Upon completion students will receive a free Primitive Lifeways logo sticker and certificate of completion.

What to Expect

After taking this class you will have a clear and precise understanding on how to carve shell and argillite. Jeff will first discuss how different prehistoric cultural used shell and argillite to artistically express their religious belief systems. Then students will learn how to select good pieces of argillite and discard bad quality pieces by running simple tests. Each student will carve pieces of argillite and shell to form beads, pendants, and effigies using similar techniques to what the Hohokam used 1,000 years ago. Once each student has their jewelry pieces made, we will string everything together using cotton rope grown locally. During this crafting process, Jeff will guide each student through the entire process so they don't miss a single step. As always, we encourage students to ask questions throughout the workshop.


What to Bring?

The Arizona desert is nothing to take for granted. Having spent over 30 years in a desert environment, Primitive Lifeways recommends you come prepared. As temperatures warm up we have the possibility of coming across rattlesnakes, bees, and wasps. If you are allergic to insect stings we recommend consulting your doctor before attending this gathering. Items to consider bringing include the following:

  • Knife
  • Lots of water (it will be warm)
  • Sack lunch
  • Medications
  • Sunblock
  • Rope
  • Good hiking boots
  • A pair of strapped sandals or water shoes
  • First aid kit
  • Cotton cloth (bandana or shemagh)
  • Old Cotton shirt