Tuscarora Pottery School

Contributed by Susanne Kaime Reese

Tuscarora Summer Retreat and Pottery School is a remote rural school specializing in ceramic art located in Independence Valley, in the heart of the high desert, an hour northwest of Elko, Nevada. Founded in 1966, Dennis and Julie Parks built the campus and programs over many years, and in the 1990s their son Ben Parks took over the duties of managing the school.

Presently the school is run by a board of close friends of the Parks’ family. Jerry Hendershot is Director of Summer Programs. Their goal is to provide a concentrated, supportive atmosphere for both students seeking an introduction to ceramics, as well as more seasoned practitioners wanting to expand their skills and confidence.

The rustic, beautiful and inspirational location gives students time and space for focus and concentration. The Tuscarora Pottery School has a long history of welcoming people from all over the world for intensive work in the ceramic arts. Generally offered is a series of three day workshops for high school students. As well as two week concentrated courses for adults. Annually, a fall work trip is scheduled where students help with building maintenance. Students live in a historic rooming house and work in family-built studio buildings.

The school sits in a shaded grassy oasis, surrounded by vast open spaces, clear skies and rugged mountains. Curriculum includes a variety of summer workshops at all skill levels in hand-building and wheel throwing. The classes offer a variety of firing methods. High fire kilns are both soda and cone 10 gas. Low fire methods are raku, and saggar. Obvara is a special and unique raku method that Jerry brought back from Poland.

Contact the Tuscarora Pottery School. They are currently taking reservations for the 2021 Summer Season. For more information about the Parks’ school, visit the website tuscarorapottery.com.