Clay Pit Fire Weekend


Learn and participate in an ancient form of firing pottery that uses natural materials and requires no gas or electricity during this two-day program.

You choose a small pre-made (bisque) clay vessel to decorate with different colorants, as well as learn the process of burnishing surfaces on some leather hard clay. After filling the earth pit with various natural combustibles and the pots, we begin the firing process. Typically this lasts a few hours, then the pit is covered and left overnight. In the evening, all participants can attend a potluck style dinner followed by a short presentation on the history of pit firing, particularly its significance in indigenous communities of the Southwest.

You may camp or stay in a guest room overnight, with a nature hike and then brunch in our café the next morning. During the hike you can collect a burnishing stone to take with you for future work. By afternoon, the pit should be cool enough to unload and we can talk about ways to finish the pieces with waxing or just leave them as-is.


You’ll be able to take home your decorated, burnished, and fired vessel with you.


Day One: Saturday
9:30 am: Arrival
10 am: Orientation & tour
11:30 am: Burnishing technique demonstration

12:30 pm: Lunch
1 pm: Decorate vessels
2 pm: Load and fire earth pit

6:30 pm: Group dinner
8 pm: Presentation on pit-firing

Day Two: Sunday
9 am: Nature hike along the Agua Fria River
11 am: Brunch in Café

4 pm: Unload earth pit-firing & discuss finishing techniques
5:30 pm: Departure


Please bring a water bottle, snacks, and sun protection.  We will provide natural colorants to use for your vessel such as steel wool, banana peels, sawdust, cow pies, dried leaves, horse hair, coffee grounds, steel nails, bark, copper wire, copper carbonate, copper sulfate, sodium chloride, and iron oxide, but you are also welcome to bring your own.


Shanta Ambady is a ceramic artist and sculptor born in Barcelona, Spain. She immigrated to the U.S. with her family as child where she grew up between New York and Michigan. In 2005, she moved to Detroit where she attended the College for Creative Studies to study ceramics and continued her personal art practice afterwards. She has worked out of various studios as an educator and/or production artist, including the historic Pewabic Pottery, Rovin/Motawi, and Chris Schanck Studio. various boutiques and galleries throughout the country have sold her ceramic work and the Detroit Institute of Art Museum has exhibited her sculpture. For over ten years, she ran her own home studio and business selling functional craft.

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After leaving Detroit in 2021 to pursue natural building and sustainability workshops in the Southwest, she eventually attended an Arcosanti workshop in January 2022, and has resided here since. Here, she gives educational site tours, teaches ceramic pit-firing programs, and works on special projects with the ceramics team. She also founded and manages the community herbal apothecary.

Shanta enjoys travel, working in clay and other sculptural mediums, studying the esoteric arts, and communing with nature. She is inspired by magick, mysticism, folklore, temples, shrines and ancient practices of making art.


$325 (lunch, dinner, and brunch included)

Overnight accommodations are not included. Click here to reserve a guest room or suite.
$15 Camping option available. Contact to reserve.


Fall 2024 Dates

  • Saturday & Sunday, November 9th – 10th
  • Saturday & Sunday, December 7th – 8th

If you have any question or to request more information please email

Our Other Programs:

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Private Events: Refunds for the cancellation of private events are subject to the terms and conditions stated in the individual contractual agreements between the event organizer and The Cosanti Foundation.

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