Pit Fire Festival

Pit Fire Pottery Festival - October 6, 2017, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Bring the whole family!

The public is invited to the annual Cochise College Pit Fire Festival- produced by the Douglas campus Art Department. Discover a myriad of ceramics, sounds, tastes, and visual and performing artists starting at 6:00 p.m. on the Douglas Campus.

There will be bands, performances, art displays and vendors displaying their wares.

2017 Pit Fire Pottery Festival Lineup

  • The college is currently booking entertainment. Check back for this year’s lineup.

Lighting of Pit Fire around 7:00 p.m.

A pit fire is an ancient method of “baking” clay that has been placed in a hole or pit dug into the ground with a wood fire burning above, resulting in pieces covered in swirls of colors and patterns. Cochise College celebrates this technique with a festival to celebrate the arts. All proceeds support the Cochise College art department and the clubs who participate as vendors. The event is free to attend, but you can purchase a hand-crafted ceramic bowl for $10 to fill with gourmet soup, freshly made by the college’s culinary arts club. 1000 ceramic bowls were each hand-made and uniquely crafted by an art student.

Event Location

Douglas Campus | 4190 West Highway 80
Douglas, AZ 85601 | (520) 417-4025

Ceramics being baked by the pit fire.
A celebration of the arts.
Pit Fire Festivals
of soup
of wood burned

Why Cochise College’s Pit Fire?

This event is an educational celebration of the arts and we are extending outreach to our community in hopes of making this happen for years to come. Whether you are a vendor, fellow artist or another school wishing to participate, we encourage you to reach out and be our partner for this great event.

More than just a pit fire, the Cochise College Pit Fire Festival represents the artistic expression of our global community. Bringing together thousands of attendees this event gives you access to a committed and growing college network from all parts of Mexico, Arizona, California, and many other states.

This is an opportunity to reach a collection of college-educated students, instructors, and social influencers.

In its eleventh year, the Cochise College Art Festival is the annual event for the community drawing in diverse artists in collaboration with local sounds, flavors, and talented performers.

Individuals who support the Cochise College Art Department financially automatically become members of the Friends of the Art Department. Members who have provided contact information receive the biannual “Accolade” magazine and may be invited to special events put on by the department. Funding supports scholarships, professional development, and equipment and supplies for the Art Department. Questions may be directed to the Cochise College Foundation.

Get Involved

become a vendor.

Pit Fire Vendor Form (PDF)


Melting Pot: Pit fire ceramics project teaches life lesson

A piece of Robert Hayostek’s soul will reside in cupboards across Cochise County and beyond following the ninth annual Cochise College Pit Fire Festival.

Hayostek is the student potter selected to craft 1,000 ceramic soup bowls for the event, which is expected to draw hundreds, if not thousands, to the Douglas Campus on Oct. 22. The event includes numerous performers opening for local band Train Wreck, soups prepared by Cochise College Culinary Arts students, and fireworks.

But the main act is an enormous inferno, in which pottery by Cochise College students and pieces shipped from elsewhere – this year, as far as Denmark and as close as Col. Smith Middle School – are fired. Pottery is removed from the ashes the next day, with select pieces displayed on the Douglas Campus and in Bisbee.

Guests will eat soup from the bowls that Hayostek began crafting during the spring semester. His connection to ceramics began at Douglas High School, where he credits art teacher Richard Paun for recognizing his interest in the work. He’s enrolled regularly in college ceramics classes since graduating in 2007.

Despite about eight years working with clay, Hayostek turned the pit fire gig down in previous years, doubting his own ability to commit to a project of such magnitude.

To be a good ceramicist, a potter needs to throw thousands of pieces, says ceramics faculty Tate Rich. Throwing 1,000 bowls is great for someone who wants to learn repetition and consistency, and the job is awarded to a student who has the technical skills and the discipline to dedicate to the project. After all, making 1,000 ceramic soup bowls for peers and the general public is much more than a one- or two-day commitment. It can’t be entrusted to just anyone.

About the Bowls
Hayostek developed several prototypes prior to embarking on the project. This year’s selected design features a texture achieved through chattering, achieved when a tool is applied to the clay as the pottery is turned, creating a pattern that gives off a carved appearance.

Using clay recycled from scraps leftover from student projects, Hayostek has worked in batches, bringing 800-plus pieces through the bisque firing stage to date. The longest step is wedging the clay, a process similar to kneading dough that helps make it more pliable. Wedging precedes the formation of clay into chunks of a specific size and weight intended to maximize the functionality and appearance of the bowl. After being allowed to dry for several hours, bisque firing turns the mud to stone.

Hayostek also reserved leftover glazes from all kinds of student projects. The resulting liquid glaze is an earthy shade of pink that is expected to turn a cool blue-green upon the second firing, which is hotter than the first and results in a glossy sheen over a granite-like final piece.

There is a visible difference between Hayostek’s first bowl and the 800th, both in shape and texture. In essence, he became a one-man factory, and what he’s accomplished is mind-boggling, he says. Soon he’ll have help, as a “group glaze” is planned prior to the Oct. 22 pit fire.

“Whether it’s this classroom project or the pit fire festival itself, ceramics here at Cochise is about community, about bringing people together,” Rich says.

Friends of the Art Department
The Pit Fire Festival has drawn attention to Cochise College ceramics and a renewed focus on the arts. Guests are expected from Pima Community College, Arizona Western College, all three state universities as well as Western New Mexico and Temple universities. Various organizations have sponsored the event, with the most steadfast support coming in the form of clay itself from Marjon Ceramics and Laguna Clay. Guests who purchase one of Hayostek’s bowls support the Friends of the Art Department, which provides funding in support of art scholarships and advancement of the Art Department.

Hayostek himself has been a scholarship recipient. He now lives in Bisbee and is working to get his name out as an artist. He recognizes there is a lot of competition, but he has placed pieces at 55 Main Gallery. He previously exhibited at the Douglas Art Association gallery and is thankful for the soup bowl project from which he’s learned so much.




Cochise College is currently scheduling workshops and classes for the 2017 Pit Fire Pottery Festival.