Pottery of the Ancients

   About the Artist


Bob Casias was born in Pueblo, Colorado and attended the University of Colorado, where he earned his degree in Anthropology and Sociology. During two separate excavation seasons beginning in 1980, Bob took graduate courses and studied under Dr. David Breternitz, while attending field school and working on the Dolores Archeological Project, near Cortez, Colorado. As a potter and student of ancient southwest cultures, it was quite fortunate to be under the tutelage of one of the southwest’s leading archeologists and ceramics experts, as was Dr. Breternitz. During these two seasons Bob participated in excavations of Pueblo I, II, and III villages and was able to see, and actually hold, some very fine examples of Mesa Verde Black-on-White pottery. Dr. Breternitz passed away recently but his memory and interest in the archeology of the Southwest endures in his students and colleagues who knew him as both a leading expert in his field and a kind, honest man.

Bob has been making pots since his high school days and continued his work with clay all through college. He was using commercial clays, throwing pots, glazing them, and firing at cone 10 temperatures for about ten years. While this was exciting and rewarding ceramics work, understanding the value of mining one’s own clay, harvesting materials for organic paint, and hand-building pots using the tools of the ancient Puebloans to recreate their remarkable black-on-white pottery vessels, was never apparent until the summer of 1990 when Bob met Mr. Clint Swink at the Pecos Southwest Archeological Conference.

Clint is an accomplished artist in many mediums and he took up the study of Mesa Verde pottery replication with fervor, refining the process and techniques for producing a near perfect replica. In 1984, Mr. Joel Brisbin, who was once the lead archeologist of Mesa Verde National Park, documented the stratigraphy of deposits excavated in ancient trench kilns. Clint used this depositional information and experimented with nearly 200 firings and rediscovered the firing regime required to achieve the brilliant white wares that the Mesa Verde potters have become known for. Bob studied under Clint Swink for three summers and has been attempting to replicate this fantastic pottery and Clint’s methods, for fifteen years.

The Mancos Grey clay that is used for the body of Bob’s pottery is mined near present day Cortez, Colorado, as is the white montmorillonite clay used for the outer slipped coatings. Rocky Mountain Bee Plant is collected each year and used to make the paint that results in the ferrous iron black coloring that is achieved in a reduced/neutral atmosphere of a trench kiln if all goes well.

In addition to Mesa Verde wares, Bob has recently attempted the replication of Mimbres culture black-on-whites. Orders for particular pieces can be commissioned or pricing is available for current work as well. Please see the events page for current workshop dates.