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A New Spin on Ancient Pottery

Local Artist Amy Hoch Brings Ancient Techniques to Fort Collins

Amy Hoch's story is one of incredible adventure. On a trip to solidify her Spanish-speaking skills in Nicaragua, she met and apprenticed with an expert potter who took Amy under his wing and taught her the ancient pottery methods, dating back more than 2,000 years. It was during this experience Amy knew she had a passion for creating. Her style fuses what she learned with her natural artistic abilities creating statement pieces that are durable enough for everyday use. 

The History

San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua, coined the "Village of Pottery" of 6,000 people, sits upon deep deposits of clay that were laid down by volcanic activity in the distant past. San Juan de Oriente is well-known for its artwork and has been a pottery center since pre-Colombian times. Today, this village is home to many family-run workshops and a pottery cooperative where a well-recognized style of pottery is being produced. Early immigrants into the region brought with them these skills, and the pottery-making tradition was introduced. Archeological sites throughout Nicaragua have uncovered pottery, used in daily cooking and eating as well as funerary vessels, dating back more than 2,000 years. 

Of course, the exact origins of the local pottery-making tradition are lost in time. The present-day village dates back more than 400 years ago when, in the late 1500s, the town was founded by Spanish colonizers Juan de Bracamonte and Gervacio Gallegos during Nicaragua’s early settlement era. The village was first called San Juan el Bautista, taking its name from its patron saint, John the Baptist. To this day, the villagers hold an annual parade through town in honor of their namesake. Long known for its ceramic plates and decorative pottery, San Juan was later called San Juan de Los Platos (San Juan of the Plates or Platters). In fact, the Spaniards were at one time paid in pottery as a local form of currency. After Nicaragua declared its independence from Spain in 1821, the village was again renamed, changing San Juan de Los Platos to San Juan de Oriente, or Saint John of the East. 

Amy's wares are available for purchase online at