Category Archives: Ghost Ranch

NMPCA has long had a relationship with Ghost Ranch, including annual workshops for 30 years in Pot Hollow.

NMPCA 2017 Ghost Ranch Workshops

Ceramic art studio, Ghost Ranch, 2016 workshopClay art lives at Ghost Ranch!  Some of you are undoubtedly aware that the former Pot Hollow ceramic art workshop at Ghost Ranch was wiped out in a flash flood in 2015.  While the rest of the ranch was unaffected, the ceramic art studio and 4 other art workshops were damaged beyond recovery.  However, newly renovated workshops on higher ground continue to ensure that ceramic art programs still provide enchantment.  Ranch management is committed to their programs in ceramic arts, and have created a space in one of the existing buildings, Pinon, just above the former Pot Hollow at the top of the mesa.  This convenient location is a very short walk away from the dining hall and several accommodation buildings.  The ranch has invested materials and effort in upgrading the facilities, including refinishing the ceramic art studio room, buying a large raku kiln and potters wheels, providing a large covered portal for outdoor working space that rivals the workspace we had before.  Several donations of tools, wheels and kilns have brought the facilities up to a level that makes workshops a pleasure.  The NMPCA has pitched in with money to provide an awning to enhance the portal workspace, covers for the kilns, curtains for the shelves, and time and effort to make everything clean, organized and in shipshape for the 2017 workshops.

For 2017, the NMPCA is sponsoring two exciting workshops, both emphasizing hand-building and functional work.

Hand Building with Paper Clay 

Jerry Bennett at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, August 21-26, 2017.  More information and register:

What impresses me about Jerry Bennett is his extensive knowledge of paper clay and how it compares to regular clay: how to make clay, nuances of working with this versatile material, and many ideas about creating work that is strong, functional, aesthetic, and fun to make.   I first met Jerry at an NCECA conference (in Kansas City) and then attending a paper clay symposium in Michigan last year.  Jerry was one of three presenters as this symposium, held at Fernwood Farm in Fennville, MI.  (The other presenters were Graham Hay and Rebecca Hutchinson.)  At the symposium, all the attendees eagerly jockeyed for a position near Jerry so that they could see and hear his ideas about hand building.  I saw Jerry to be a very patient instructor who generously demonstrated his own techniques as well as asked students what they wanted to achieve and guided them to make their own ideas come to fruition.  Jerry also gave a wonderful slideshow on the history of the use of paper clay and showed his own extensive and varied functional and sculptural work.

From Philadelphia, this will be Jerry’s first visit to Ghost Ranch.  We look forward to working with Jerry as he discovers the landscapes of the southwest and shares his ideas about paper clay with us.  The five day workshop will give us plenty of time for Jerry to demonstrate, for participants to explore different aspects of the paper clay medium, and to fire work to cone 6.  Paperclay will be provided.  Bring your own favorite clay tools, or we have plenty to share at the Ranch workshop.

Jerry has lots of interesting information and more pictures of his work on his website at

Sign up no later than July 20, earlier to insure space in the workshop and your choice of accommodations.  Read Barbara Campbell’s sidebar below about ranch accommodations.

Lauren Karle at Ghost Ranch

Sewing Clay: Slip Transferred Patterns on Slab-built Pots.  Fun and learning in New Mexico.  September 8-10, 2017.  More information and register:

When I talked to Lauren recently, she said “The works starts when the pieces come out of the kiln.”  This was startling for me to hear, since Lauren has a lively practice for making work that we had learned a little about last year in a short session at the “New Mexico Connections” workshop.  Also, there have been articles and a video about Lauren from Ceramics Monthly describing how she makes her work.  The statement made sense as Lauren described her current series of “cultural appreciation.”  This series has a background of red, white and blue stripes with cultural patterns on top, such as Islamic, African, Chinese, Native American and Panamanian.  These are, for the most part, motifs from fabrics, such as mud cloths and molas.  Using her transfer technique and hand building methods, Lauren created plates, bowls, and cups with these motifs.  Lauren’s thought in creating place settings was to use them to encourage sharing of cultures, thinking about how all cultures belong here.  She wants to encourage people to learn from each other in an atmosphere of curiosity rather than fear.  Lauren plans to use these pieces in a variety of community settings and activities, including the two recent “Edible Pop-Ups” dinners where potters and chefs collaborated in an evening of conversations and celebrations of food and art.

At this year’s workshop at Ghost Ranch, we will have two full days to learn from Lauren and explore ideas with her about pattern development, image transfer, slab-building of functional work, and ways to engage in community.  This will be a popular workshop, so be sure to sign up as soon as possible to reserve your space and get the accommodation choice you want…but definitely before August 8.

Read more about Lauren and see more of her work on her website at

NMPCA will sponsor a scholarship for one person to this workshop.  Preference will be given to students.  The workshop will pay the workshop registration, meals and accommodation in a dorm room.

Ghost Ranch Accommodations:

Barbara Campbell, our NMPCA Ghost Ranch Coordinator, provides some information about this year’s changes in charges for rooms and meals.  These changes have come about because of organizational and procedural changes at the Ranch.  Whereas before, there was one price for both room and meals, this year, you pay for a meal package (all meals) separately from the room charge.  There is now a single price per room, so the price is the same if one or two people stay.  Here are the room charges this year for the three types of rooms.  Here are pictures of the rooms and further explanation.

Private room/bath $150/night for 1 or 2 people.

Semi Private (private room sharing a bath with one other room) Bath is between the two rooms $140/night for 1 or 2 people

Dorm rooms (Bath is shared between a number of rooms and one has to go out of the room and along a portal or to a nearby bath house) $90/night for 1 or 2 people.

If you have a roommate, and you go to register for the workshop on our site, both roommates need to submit a registration, but only one of the two of you need to pay for the room.  Sharing the cost of the room is an issue between the two of you.  If you don’t have a roommate, we can try to find one for you, but if we can’t, you will end up paying the full room cost.

While not explained in the registration, there is an additional option.  If you want to add additional people to the room (sharing a bed in private or semi-private rooms, dorm rooms if more than two beds), the cost is $10/night/person.  If you want this option, please indicate on your registration and we will contact you.

Each person staying on the ranch is required to buy the meal package separately from the room charge.  It is $36/day for all three meals.  The price on the registration reflects the number of meals for each workshop.  If you want additional meals, for example if you are staying off the ranch and want to buy lunch during the workshop, you can pay the ranch directly at the dininghall.  Breakfast, $10; lunch, $12; dinner, $14.

There is a conservation fee charge of $5/visit for each and every person who comes on the ranch to spend time hiking or taking courses or for R&R.  This is paid by the workshop fee.  In addition to the room charges, the Ranch charges the NMPCA for the use of the studio facilities.  This is also paid by the workshop fee.  These two charges from the ranch have necessitated our increasing the workshop fees slightly.

We have analyzed these changes, and if you stay in a room with a roommate, the overall cost is about the same as last year.  If you want to have single occupancy in a room, the price has increased.

by Ceramic art studio, Ghost Ranch, 2016 workshopJudy Nelson-Moore

The Legend of Pot Hollow

Here’s a summary of what has been happening with ceramic arts at Ghost Ranch following the flash flood in June 2015. Most of the studio was washed away, the buildings unuseable. The NMPCA held workshops in temporary quarters (Pinon and the Arts Center) in August and September. This was possible because the ranch bought a nice slab roller and lots of good tools (at an excellent discount from New Mexico Clay). In addition, Cricket Appel donated a kiln, and we salvaged a few things from the flood. The workshops, “Soft…” with Judy Nelson-Moore and Luisa Baldinger was followed by a weekend with Debra Fritts, both events were successful. In the meantime, the NMPCA has moved forward with collecting money for support of rebuilding ceramic arts facilities at the ranch.

This year, the ranch allowed us to salvage more materials from the flood area, and we collected quite a lot of glaze materials, although the tools and wheels were almost a total loss. A kind donor gave us a big kiln and a lot of materials and tools. The folks at Ghost Ranch have provided “temporary” workspace for the ceramic arts in an existing building that the NMPCA has used for winter workshops and evening activities: Pinon … across the parking lot from the Dining Hall.

We look forward to 4 NMPCA-sponsored ceramic art workshops at the ranch this summer and fall, in addition to the programs the ranch offers themselves. The NMPCA workshops include:

Ceramic art at Ghost Ranch, Jack Roberts Here is some information from Barbara Campbell on 6/27/16 after holding three Volunteer Camp weekends to work on the temporary workspace in the Pinon Building at Ghost Ranch.

Thank you everyone for helping get the new pottery up and running. This just wouldn’t have been possible without the continued interest and dedication of the NMPCA and all your hard work.

The first class started today with a group called “Family week” where grandparents and children and cousins etc all take classes together and move from one discipline to another throughout the week. It is the course that Camila Trujillo used to teach in Pot Hollow.

I am thinking about the beautiful tile Judy did for us commemorating the renovation of pot hollow in 2007 that actually survived the flood. I have the tile hanging on my gallery wall and would like to get it installed at the ranch. I am wondering if we should make a sister tile to commemorate the flood and to honor all the participants who helped move from the muck to Yucca and then the renovation and the upgrade we all did to Pinon#1…….by the way, I do think a new name is in order. We have batted a few possibilities around, but nothing has been decided. I would love it if everyone could sort of think about a new name for our new “temporary” situation and a way to commemorate this phase of our presence at the ranch.

We also have permission to do an installation on the roof of Pinon. Leonard is looking into old manikins that we can put seated in front of salvaged wheels, maybe two or three or just one if it is all we can dig out. Please be thinking about this project with ideas on how it can come about. Our thinking so far is that we will clean up the parts and paint the set up (person at wheel with pot) to be installed on the roof which will be silhouetted against the sky.

I think sometime in the fall we could get comped room and board for this project……..I am hoping to get them to extend the portal roof another 25′ to the North and pour a slab for an extended breezeway work space. I would love to see this happen before our workshop in September, but please don’t hold your breath on this one. I will do my best.

Thanks again to all of you for your continued support and hard work.

The Slip Trail editors, Jacquita Beddo and Judy Nelson-Moore send a great BIG THANK YOU to Barbara Campbell for all the endless hours and trips up to Ghost Ranch. There was struggling through the Ghost Ranch’s internal politics and personalities to keep alive our hope for a new facility. Through a lot of anguish and an awful lot of physical work, you’ve had to push and work ever since the flood. Thank you, Barbara, you are appreciated.

Joe Bova From China

Joe Bova
Joe Bova Teapot created in China

I have been in China at Shangyu Celadon Ceramic Art Center  since May 20. It has been a fine experience, my third trip to China but first to this new Ceramic Art Centre in Shangyu, China about 2 hours drive south of Shanghai. My fellow residents have been Janet DeBoos from Australia, Paul Mathieu from Canada, and Anna Calluori Holcombe from Florida. Also during part of this time Garret Grim and Teri Frame from Wisconsin have been working on the first floor. We have been working on the second. Thankfully our studio is air-conditioned because the climate reminds me very much of Houston, my home town. If I stayed here much longer the gills and the webbing between fingers might start growing! I look forward very much to being back in NM where the sky is blue and the view is (mostly) clear. Nevertheless, this has been a productive venture for me and I am posting 4 of the porcelain teapots I have made. The came from the kiln two days ago. The white rabbit with white snake teapot is headed to the Shanghai Museum for their International Teapot Exhibition in December, and they are accessioning it for their permanent collection. I will return in December for the opening. The white frogs teapot and the double yellow snake teapot stay here for the Shangyu Museum Collection. There are also two monkey teapots not pictured. The green startled frog with snake teapot comes home with me. Leaving all the rest of the work here is the price for a all expenses paid month here.

Joe BovaMy 75th birthday was June 1 and this is the second birthday I have spent in China, the last being in 2002 in Xian, the fabled city of the Terra Cotta Army. This time I had two parties! Anna Holcombe and Janet DeBoos conspired to produce a birthday cake for our daily lunch and the staff of the center produced a ripe, sweet watermelon. When Mr. Song the director of the center found out it was my birthday he took us all out to dinner that evening at a very local restaurant with yet another cake and perhaps a gabe! or two too many. A memorable 75th! The only thing missing was Linda Shafer, my wife who is working away in Santa Fe as the Executive Director of the Railyard Park Stewards.

Joe BovaI also had 6 bronze rhytons of a duck’s head cast and they will be shipped to me in SF.  All-in-all a great experience!

I would also like to remind the membership I am teaching a 5 day hands on workshop at Ghost Ranch August 14-19.  Click here to read more and register before July 14..

I am really looking forward to my summer at home except for the one week workshop the first week of July I’ll be teaching at Appalachian Center for the Crafts in Tennessee.

I hope to see some of you at Ghost Ranch!

Joe Bova

Joe BovaJoe Bova
2 Gavilan Ct.
Santa Fe, NM 87508

Pot Hollow Destroyed by Flood

On July 7th, a 100-year flash flood swept through Pot Hollow at Ghost Ranch and flooded everything in the arroyo of Yeso Creek.  Pot Hollow is virtually destroyed.  Short House, the nearby building used by glass-makers, fabric painters, other arts programs, and occasionally by potters for overflow events is gone.  The metal workers studio is gone.  The water level was about 3.5 feet.  NMPCA has been holding workshops in Pot Hollow since the 1970’s.

Before the flood.  These are just a few of the photos that show the workshop and facilities in Pot Hollow.  We’ll add to this as we delve into our archives.

After the flood:

Here are a few pictures after the flood:

Debra Hepler, the Ranch Director, has promised Barbara Campbell, the NMPCA Ghost Ranch coordinator, that the Ranch will have a ceramic art studio in the future.

Help us imagine how that should look.  We’ll post more information as it is received.


Natural Clay with Paper

Using Natural Ghost Ranch Clay and Paper Pulp in Short Workshops

Barbara Campbell Collects Clay at Ghost Ranch, NM
Barbara Campbell Collects Clay at Ghost Ranch, NM

Artist and Teacher, Barbara Campbell, teaches workshops at Ghost Ranch.  Barbara, who has been supporting herself as a potter for over 40 years, has been teaching workshops and classes at Ghost Ranch for 9 years.

One of the popular activities at Ghost Ranch is to utilize the natural clay deposits that abound in the arroyos and canyons of the Ranch.  Barbara says:

“For several years now I have been experimenting with Ghost Ranch clay.  I have dug it here and there around the ranch, but like most all earthenware clay I find it to be tough and short unless it is aged for a few years.  With classes being so short and students liking the idea of digging their own clay, I needed to come up with a way to make the ranch clay more workable on the day it was dug.”

Barbara discovered paper clay at her friend’s Judy Nelson-Moore workshop at Santa Fe Clay.   Read an article Judy prepared about paperclay.   Learning about the strength and enhanced working qualities of paperclay gave Barbara an idea about how to make natural clays work better.

“Once I decided to add 20 to 30% paper pulp, the clay became very workable and it was a quick and easy fix. Sometimes when looking for clay I take students to different parts of the ranch and we get different colors (they all fire out the same more or less), because it is fun to work with colored clays.  On the ranch I have found  yellow ochre, green, many shades of red and rust, gray, crocus martes, very deep burgundy, and even bluish clay.

“When I teach Jan Term, my students are college kids, usually sophomores through seniors.  In the summer months I have students that range in age from 14 to 80 or more if they are spritely.  Some of them are seasoned potters and others are rank beginners so it is always challenging to keep it simple for the beginners and make it challenging for the veterans.

“The advantage of working with the paper/ranch clay mix is that it is quick to make, easy to use and quick to dry.  We are doing a from the ground (literally) up to completion of a firing in five days.  It is tricky, but I am finding that it can work. I don’t have to bisque very high which saves time and since we are either doing a pit firing or a fume firing, it is relatively simple to get things from the bisque kiln into the finish kiln.  The cooling times are also quick so it is possible to do the whole thing in a snap.

“Once my students are assembled, we all take a plastic bag and a spade and walk down to the arroyo.  We walk along the arroyo until someone says “Is that clay”?  Sometimes we decide to get a bit from the first batch or all from the first sighting, but sometimes we hike further afield to gather different colors.  I am sort of getting familiar with where these small deposits are located.  When everyone has a few pounds of dry clay we head back to Pot Hollow and begin processing the clay.

Pots Made From Natural Clay at Ghost Ranch, source:  Barbara Campbell
Pots Made From Natural Clay at Ghost Ranch

“It is a very simple process.  We dump all the clay into buckets…..if we have different colors we use multiple buckets, but if it is all more or less the same we just use one bucket. We slake the clay down and then strain it through screens into another bucket.“Meanwhile someone is taking cheap toilet paper and blending it with water using a hand mixer.  When the paper is pulverized into the water… looks a bit like cloudy white oatmeal, and the clay is a clean sieved slurry then we take two to three scoops of the clay and add one scoop of the paper pulp.  Using the hand blender we mix it together.  Once it is smooth and perfect looking we pour it out onto plaster bats to about 3/8” thickness or so.  I made lots of plaster bats for this purpose and usually there are enough to accommodate 8 to 10 students.

Usually this process takes most of the first morning so while the clay is setting up, everyone goes to lunch.  Barbara  stays in the studio and monitor the dryness, turning the clay over when it is time.  By the time the students return from lunch, the clay is ready to wedge up and use. The clay is soft, plastic and thoroughly usable at this point.  Great transformation from dirt to plastic clay in a short time.

Ghost Ranch natural clay pots
Pots made and fired at Ghost Ranch from natural clay

Because all the students have had to carry the dry clay and then mix it up, most of the pieces are small.  People tend to make things like jewelry, incense burners, seed pots etc.  We fire them in a fuming atmosphere or in a modified pit firing.  No glaze is used, but often we burnish.  Sometimes the terra sig used is a different color than the original clay just for fun, but also made from ranch clays.

Most student reactions range from awe and wonder to plain satisfaction at making something they have dug from the earth.   Most of the students are thrilled to have something dug from the soil of the ranch to take home with them.  One college age student said she had never before known that clay came from dirt!

Information about Barbara Campbell:  Barbara took her first pottery class at CSU in Colorado.  She graduated from CCA in California in Ceramics.  Two undergraduate years were in Eronguarico, Michoacan Mexico building a pottery department for an international program for CCA.  She went to NYC after graduation and began teaching ceramics at Cooper Square Art Center.  Then, she went to  California and set up her own pottery studio and began making a living as a potter.   About 37 years ago, she bought a house in El Rito, NM and moved her pottery where she has continued as a professional potter.  Barbara volunteers for the New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists (NMPCA) as the Ghost Ranch coordinator.  See more about Barbara’s ceramics.

Barbara is teaching workshops at Ghost Ranch this summer (2015) using Ghost Ranch clay:

Working the Magic of Ghost Ranch Clay, July 6-12
Cancelled:  Clay to Lift the Heart,  July 13-19

Have an experience you’d like to share about Ghost Ranch or natural clay?  Please leave a comment below.

Barbara Campbell Collects Clay at Ghost Ranch, NM
Barbara Campbell Collects Clay in the arroyo behind Pot Hollow at Ghost Ranch, NM

Pot Hollow Workshops 2015

2015 Ghost Ranch Ceramic Art Workshops

Saggar Fired vessel by Luisa BaldingerNMPCA and Ghost Ranch’s ceramic studio, Pot Hollow, have had a long and productive relationship, but it has not always been possible for members of NMPCA or other ceramic artists to spend time enjoying the studio at the Ranch.  This is because the number of workshops or opportunities to play in clay at the Ranch were limited to a few times a year.  This is changing.  Ghost Ranch is expanding their arts programs, including many one-day activities in Pot Hollow and more workshops are using the facilities of Ghost Ranch.

Spending whole sunlit days and starry nights immersed in the atmosphere of Ghost Ranch, clay artists find the Pot Hollow studio filled with delightful people, stimulating presenters, a variety of equipment, and plenty of space and inspiration to work clay magic. Whether you are a beginner seeking playful exploration or an experienced functional or sculptural clay artist seeking renewal, a workshop at Ghost Ranch is likely to provide a trans-formative experience.

In 2015, there are more opportunities than ever to work and play with clay, surrounded and immersed in the beauty of the canyons and cliffs at Ghost Ranch. We invite you to visit Ghost Ranch, New Mexico for a clay art workshop this year.  Below are 5 intensive workshops in clay:

Wall disk, Barbara Campbell **Working the Magic of Ghost Ranch Clay   July 6-12. Presenter: Barbara Campbell.   In this seminar, we will work with clay harvested ourselves. It is our intention to invest our pieces with sacred intent. Our work will be deliberate and restful, and our firing will be fun and exciting. We will discuss the properties of the materials we use and explore different deposits around the ranch. Click on the image left for details and register.
Whodoo by Luisa Baldinger, fume fired Cancelled:  **Clay to Lift the Heart July 13-19. Presenter: Barbara Campbell.   In this seminar we will be working with clay to lift the heart (LIFT, look inside for truth). We will not only working with the clay, but allowing the clay to do its work on us. I offer a few easy projects to give everyone the feel of the medium and I welcome student ideas and individual uniqueness.  Click on the image left for details and register.
Judy Nelson-Moore Sculpture, Blue Ribbons, fired and glazed paperclay Soft: Clay, Paper and Fire August 16-20. Presenters Luisa Baldinger and Judy Nelson-Moore in a 4-day workshop making vessels and sculpture with soft slab forms, regular and paperclay, and saggar-firing. Sponsored by Dancing Mud Studio.   More information and to register.
Debra Fritts Sculpture, Ghost Ranch workshop, September 11-13, 2015 Transformations September 11-13. Presenter: Debra Fritts.    Allowing the landscape to inform us with interesting forms and textures, we will sketch and observe, allowing new approaches to tell our stories in clay sculpture. Demos, discussions, and hands-on work will include inspirations, ways to tell a story, and technical information. Sponsored by the New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists (NMPCA) Details and register
MarcHudson **Extruder Extravaganza October 5-11. Presenter: Marc Hudson.   Explore unique qualities of the manual extruder, how it functions, and how to make dies.  Try out die-making materials and become very familiar with the manual and power tools used to make simple and complex dies. And more importantly, have hands-on experience extruding and assembling clay pieces.  We will use paper clay to extend the range of possibilities. Details and register.

** Workshops noted above with ** are eligible for a 15% discount to NMPCA members.  Check your enews announcements for the coupon code before you register or contact one of the coordinators below.

These workshops are being coordinated by NMPCA members:

Judy Nelson-Moore, Dancing Mud Studio,
Barbara Campbell, Stoneware Artifacts,

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Here is a pdf flyer of these workshops.