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WNPA Insider Class: Mata Ortiz Pottery Making Workshop with Artist Jorge Quintana

Location: WNPA National Park’s Store -
Date(s): July 23, 24, 25, 26, 2013
Time(s): 9:30 am to 4:00 pm each day -

Limited to only 12 lucky students! Enjoy a four day workshop learning the art of Mata Ortiz pottery making. Mata Ortiz pots are hand built without the use of a potter’s wheel. Shaping, polishing and painting the clay is entirely done by hand, often with brushes made from children’s hair. All materials and tools originate from supplies that are readily available locally. The preferred fuel for the low temperature firing is grass-fed cow manure or split wood. Each of these characteristics derive from the ancient pottery traditions of the region. Jorge Quintana is one of a handful of master potters who takes his pots through each step of the process himself.

  • Cost: $250 (members) $295 (non-members) per person

  • Price includes All materials, tools, instruction, and lunches provided
  • Registration must be pre-paid and is non-refundable

Mata Ortiz, the Back Story
The village of Mata Ortiz, in northern Chihuahua, Mexico is the birthplace of the remarkable pottery available at this special show and sale. Beginning in the mid-1970s, the village became known for the intricately detailed pots based on designs created by indigenous peoples of the area hundreds of years ago.

The ceramics are hand-built, thin walled, and painstakingly painted with intricate designs. These pieces gained a following in the 1980s after Juan Quezada, one of the style's originators, began to display his works in prestigious galleries in the Southwest.

As more villagers took up the craft, the variety and innovation underwent tremendous growth, evolving into the astonishing array of styles seen today with dozens of well-known artisans producing fine art pieces.

Click for a photo tour of the village of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico

Featured Artist and Instructor: Master Potter, Jorge Quintana

Jorge is a true master potter defined as someone who understands all phases of pottery making from digging the clay, molding the jar, and making the paint to sanding and polishing the vessel, painting it, and firing it using cow dung or bark from a downed cottonwood tree. Jorge Quintana is one of the few potters who knows how to do all of this, and he still makes pots in this manner. Jorge learned to prepare materials and clay as a young boy from Juan Quezada, considered one of the primary founders of Mata Ortiz Pottery. He learned the pottery techniques from his grandmother using coils of clay and the paddle-and-anvil technique utilized by Native Americans. Jorge learned early on from working with first generation potters that experimentation is critical. Today he still experiments with new processes, always seeking new colors of clay or discovering new mineral combinations for improving his paints.

Chinese and Mexican Heritage - At 5'6" Jorge Quintana is compact, with dark eyes that sparkle with true intellect, short salt-and-pepper hair, and a black mustache. He is stocky and strong, but his wide, easy smile reveals a pleasant disposition. His face shows a hint of his Asian ancestry handed down from his great-grandfather Fong Poi, who came from China by way of California to El Paso, Juarez and ending up in Mata Ortiz. Jorge remembers his hundred-year-old great-grandmother, Gregoria Ibarra Jiménez de Flores, telling him stories about her husband, Fong Poi, when he was a small child. "Fong" in Mandarin Chinese means "flower," or "flor" in Spanish, so when his great-grandfather arrived in Ciudad Juárez in the late nineteenth century, it made perfect sense that he changed his name to José Flores. Some of the better Mata Ortiz potters working today are members of the Quintana, Martínez, Flores, Gallegos, Rodríguez, and Ledezma families descended from this Chinese-Mexican union. Jorge’s great grandfather had a real talent for mercantilism, a trait Jorge continues today as a true village entrepreneur. Jorge is a master potter, teacher, wholesaler of village pottery, master carpenter, operator of an Inn, a grocery store, a gallery, and a resale store among other ventures.

Thanks to author and trader Jim Hills for sharing his article on Jorge. Additional reference: Journal of the Southwest, Vol. 54, No. 1, Spring 2012

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About Western National Parks Association (WNPA):

WNPA helps you find yourself in the American story by experiencing the unique beauty, culture, and heritage of our national parks.

Throughout our 75-year history as a nonprofit education partner of the National Park Service, Western National Parks Association has provided millions of dollars in direct and indirect support to national parks, monuments, and historic sites across the West.

Today WNPA supports 66 parks in 12 Western states, developing products, services, and programs that enrich the visitor experience. We operate stores in all of our partner parks, develop products that engage visitors, and fund historical, social, and environmental research that makes park visits more meaningful.

For more information on WNPA and how you can help us share the national park experience—the American story—with everyone, visit



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