Crafting Prehistoric Jewelry

The circular designed logo of Primitive Lifeways

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 1,200 years ago. In this extensive 1 day workshop join Jeff Martin from Primitive Lifeways where he will take you through the process of crafting jewelry using rocks and shells identical to what prehistoric people used in Arizona.


When and Where?

On Saturday May 6th starting at 11:00am We will craft necklace pendants, bracelets, and rings at Sunset Park in Sedona, Arizona. We will first meet in the main parking lot at the park (look for the Primitive Lifeways truck). This park will come up on GPS when using Google or Apple Maps to navigate. This workshop is come and go as you please--most students will have jewelry made by 1:00. 

Sunset at couthouse butte sedona


This single day workshop will cost $40.00 per person. All materials are provided

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