The Tewas do not use a potter's wheel. At the Renwick Gallery, Santana Martinex demonstrated their ancient method.
First the potter mixes the local clays and volcanic ash. Then she takes a saucer called a puki and inserts into a flat clay base with an upturned rim. The potter works with the pot, smoothing it with her hands and a shaper made of a gourd. The pot is dried in the sun for days, sometimes a month.
When the pot is dry enough, the worker scrapes and sand it. Then the potter applies a slip (a creamy paste of clay and water). A white clay slip is used for polychrome ware. An iron-rich red clay slip is used for both red and black wares. While the slip is still damp, the potter polishes the pot to a high gloss by rubbing it with stones. The smooth, shiny rocks are themselves sacred objects, handed down from great-grandmothers. It is counted great fortune when a new one is found. Some are believed to be kidney stones from the dinosaurs.
Then the painter applies the decoration on the slip, before the firing. The earth colors are made from metallic oxide soils, the black from a plant. The red-on-red and black-on-black decoration requires a second slip from a clay that will remain matt during firing. Santana Martinez says that when she decorates a pot she "takes the phone off the hook, locks the door against the grandchildren" and tries to be very quiet and still.
For the firing, the Tewas dig a hole, or mound the earth around or cover the pots with scraps of metal and cow chips to form a rough kiln. Then they light a bonfire to harden it.