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VCPG Newsletter

February 2023
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February 2023 Newsletter

Members' Meeting February 27th

6:30pm Gathering / 7:00pm Meeting

See details below.

For Your Calendar:​

February 2nd……..….Board Meeting @ 3:00pm

February 27th…….….Members Meeting on Zoom

March 2nd……….…...Board Meeting @ 3:00pm

March 27th…….….….Members Meeting on Zoom

April 6th………….…...Board Meeting @ 3:00pm

April 24th……….….…Members Meeting on Zoom

May 4th……….….…...Board Meeting @ 3:00pm

May 20th……….….….Optional Prep for Wood Fire - Ventura @10am-noon

May 20th……….….….Optional Prep for Wood FIre - Santa Barbara @10am-noon

May 21st….…….….…Pit Fire Gathering and Potluck in lieu of our Members Meeting

June 1st…….…..…....Board Meeting @ 3:00pm

June 26th…..….….....Members Meeting on Zoom

President’s message • February 2023 

The Color of Life

I was in a meeting with two friends on Sunday. This is a meeting we have every two weeks. We get together with tea and coffee giving each one of us 15 minutes to talk about whatever we need to talk about in our life. Then together we talk about what’s come up for us from hearing each others stories. One of the things that came up while I was talking was “The Color of Life”. 

Looking at my life as a color chart, I mostly see shades of gray. When I was younger, there is an occasional dark black area that moves into dark gray with a little dots of light gray, blue, green, and white fluctuating in and around that kind a middle of gray spectrum. As the color time-field continues it’s punctuated by blue zones, occasional red, yellow, white zones. The colors flow and primarily becoming light gray with pulses into color, pulses of blues, greens, yellows, reds, oranges, some purple, but they pulse out of the light gray. The general background is now light gray.

I’ve thought and written at other times about the arc of my life against different backgrounds — fluctuations against the music I listen to, fluctuations against my hair length and color, fluctuations against the shoes I wore, fluctuations against the food I ate, fluctuations against the quantities of caffeine and other drugs. This was the first time I looked against color.

I have no external reference points for any of these diarama. I don’t know whether this envisioning of mine have any relevance to how other people would see their life against a background of color. I don’t know if that greyscale vista is evidence of the pressure to flat-line experience during the early trauma and depressive periods in my life. Or, is this just kind of the way that it is for humanity? How does this life color palette relate to the color palettes I’ve worked with in ceramics? With clothes? Etc.? I don’t know. As always, I’m curious…

What’s your “Color of Life”?

Ostracism and Greek Pottery

I was listening to a lecture series from The Great Courses on Ancient Civilizations. One lecture was on the Athenian experiments with who should rule and how? During the Athenian experiments in Democracy, the Assembly was composed of all male citizens — 30,000-60,000 depending on the period — whose responsibility included voting, deciding military and financial magistracies, organizing and maintaining food supplies, initiating legislation and political trials, deciding to send envoys, deciding whether or not to sign treaties, voting to raise or spend funds, and debating military matters. 

Once a year 500 male citizens were drawn by lottery to serve as the Council. A kind of Executive Committee to the Assembly They served for 1 year. An average male citizen would serve in this way 3 times in a lifetime. 

The Council could initiate a recommendation to “Ostracize” (exile) from Athens citizens who had become too powerful or too dangerous to the city. The decision whether or not to ostracize an individual was taken once each year. 

First, the recommendation to hold a vote on Ostracism was presented to the popular Assembly of Athens. There, a required minimum of 6,000 male citizens voted by majority to proceed or not. If agreed, a special meeting known as the Ostracophoria was organized in the Agora, an open meeting space, on a particular day. The voting was supervised by a 50 member sub-group of the Council and the 9 highest administrative officials. 

Citizens voted against a particular candidate by scratching his name on a shard of pottery, an Ostrakon*. Voting was done anonymously. Officials known as Phylai then collected the Ostraka and made sure that nobody voted twice.

For the result of an Ostracism to be effective a minimum of 6,000 votes had to be cast. Then the officials announced which individual had amassed the most votes and that person was Ostracized, that is, in the original meaning of the term, exiled. There was no possibility of appeal against the decision. The man was given 10 days to organize his affairs and then he must leave the city and never return to the region for a period of 10 years. If he returned early, the punishment was death. Interestingly, the individual did not lose their citizenship, nor was their personal property confiscated. Many returned to live normally and serve politically.

* Remember this is historical red or black Greek Pottery.

Mid-fired with a Terra Sigillata like surface. Easily scratched

An early pottery shard Ostracon for Pericles. 

From a later time period thrown off-the-hump write-in “ballot” Ostraka. These are all votes for for Themistocles.

Happy Potting,

Wyn Matthews, VCPG President

50+ year potter


February 2023 Member Meeting Program

From a Mata Ortiz Potter’s Tradition to How We Prep Pots

for Our Pit Fire Gathering and Clay Challenge.

This will be a jam packed program! 

Be prepared to hang out with us through the entire program or catch what you miss on Videos found on the Guild’s Web Home, under the Learning tab.  

Beginning the program will be Jose Almeraz, a 4th generation aspiring young artist in Mata Ortiz. His signature work is a red or black highly burnished pot with sgraffito designs of skulls, koi fish, hearts, etc. He learned how to make pots by watching his mother, Ana Herandez and his aunt, Gloria Hernandez.

He will demonstrat the Mata Ortiz method of making a Mata Ortiz pot ready for pit firing.

Following Jose’s presentation, Rebecca Russell and Genie Thomsen will provide guidance on how best to prepare your pots for our Pit Fire Gathering/Challenge. They will discuss size, clay, pot preparation and options for the day of firing. Tips and tricks are invited from all attending.

VCPG is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: VCPG Monthly Member Meeting - 

Time: Feb 27, 2023 06:30 PM Gathering time - 7 PM meeting time .

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 880 2758 8377

Passcode: 893843

Team Service

I want to take a moment and recap for you all the Team Service story of 2022:

In 2022, 106 members selected membership at the Plus Tier level. Each of these members agreed to complete some form of Team Service back to the Guild for receiving the additional benefits available. The Plus Tier benefits include participating in Guild Sale venues: Ojai Pottery Market, Ventura Pottery Market, Ventura Pottery Online, Ventura Pottery Gallery, Gallery Special Events, the Guild’s Clay and Materials Bulk Order, Photo Box and Member Portfolios. During 2022, 99 Plus Tier members and a lot of Regular Tier members supported Guild activities through Team Service. Some members offered an hour or two of service while others offered significantly more. Over 300 different Team Service slots were filled by members during the year. Some members wore multiple hats! The Board and membership is grateful for the time and expertise offered to sustain and build our Clay Community.


The Guild’s Bylaws, approved by the membership in 2021, require Team Service to be completed each year in order to renew a membership at the Plus Tier. Starting in September and through mid-November 2022, phone calls were made and emails sent in an effort to remind 27 Plus Tier members who had not yet completed Team service of their commitment. When a member requested assistance finding aTeam Service opportunity help was offered to find a slot that met their personal circumstances. After these outreach efforts, only seven Plus Tier members did not complete the 2022 Team Service commitment. In December, notice was mailed (via snail mail) to these seven members advising them of the waiver request option and of the deadline to submit a waiver request for Board consideration. Five of seven Plus Tier members subsequently submitted requests to the Board for a waiver of their 2022 Team Service. All five members had availed themselves of at least one Plus Tier benefit during 2022. The Board reviewed these requests at their January and February meetings.

After extensive and challenging deliberations the Board granted one waiver request and denied four requests. Each of the members whose waiver request was denied participated in a major Guild Sale venue. The Board reasoned that if those members had the capacity to participate in a two-day sale, they had the capacity to complete a Team Service. Also, the Board felt that granting those waivers was unfair to all of the Plus Tier members who stepped forward, sometimes in spite of conflicting priorities, to fulfill their agreement to the Guild. It takes many hands, hearts and talents to keep all the offerings of the Guild at play. Any Plus Tier Member who does not complete their Team Service within a given calendar year can only renew their membership at the Regular Tier in the following year. 

The Board encourages all Plus Tier members to seek out the opportunity to fulfill their Plus Tier Team Service Agreement early in the year. Currently 133 unique slots are posted on the Guild Web Home needing 248 members to lend hand, heart and talents. Of these slots 81 are filled! What a crazy engaged community we all are a part of !

More slots will be posted as plans for events later in the year are confirmed. The Bi-Monthly Announcements will always have a reminder to sign-up for Team Service and newly posted Team Service Opportunities will be highlighted.

If after reviewing all the postings you are at a loss for where your skills and time might best be matched, please send an email to With that said, it is the responsibility of each Plus Tier member to sign-up for and complete their Team Service. 

— Foz

NOTE. In order to create the Team Service slot a date needs to be identified. Some Team Service slots have 12/31/2023 listed as the “date.” This is because the activity is likely an intermittent or a year long activity. We have chosen to use 12/31/2023 the default date. 

For example, we have clay deliveries 3 times a year. We never know the exact date until we get the notices from Laguna and Aardvark, so we use 12/31/2023. If an activity is date specific like the Ojai Pottery Market specific day and time slots will be listed.

Beatrice Wood Show • July 8th - August 20th

This year we are honoring Beatrice Wood on the 25th anniversary of her passing away.

Use her work to inspire you to create your entries. Take an element from her pottery that inspires you and transform it into your own interpretation.

The show runs from July 8th – August 20th.

Application and payment are online this year. See the new Beatrice Wood Show page.

Summer Residency Program

Information on the Guild's Summer Residency Program for students can be found at our Guild Web Home in the Learning section: Studio Residency. Deadline for the Summer 2023 program is midnight April 30, 2023. Please address questions to

Lou Ann Smith

Summer Residency Program Coordinator

Past Members Meeting online

January 2023 Members Meeting

You can find “VCPG Videos” on the VCPG YouTube Channel. There you can select Videos or Playlists. Many of the videos are also on the VCPG Website,, after you login, on the Learning/Videos page. For questions or suggestions please email

Happy Potting,

Maree Cheatham

March Board Meeting Link • 2/2/23 @3:00

All Guild members are invited to attend the monthly VCPG Board of Directors Meetings. 

Please contact Stacy Rowe at if you would like to receive the Agenda Packet in advance of the Board of Directors Meeting.


Topic: VCPG March Board of Directors Meeting

Time: March 2nd, 2023 03:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 880 6793 7721

Passcode: 558245

The VCPG Library

Interested in learning more about a specific area of ceramics? 

Check out VCPG's extensive library! Visit the Library page under the Member Menu for everything you need to know.

Do you teach Pottery Classes?

If you are a Guild member who offers instruction/classes and are interested in listing your information here, please send your information to WebServices using the Contact Us form no later than the end of February. We will list your website or social media links, but will not be listing emails or phone numbers on the website.

Gas Kiln Available 

Jim Levander, a guild's past treasurer and board member for many, many years, passed on, and his wife Cyndi is looking for a home for his 5-6 cubic ft. gas kiln. Kiln can be half-sized. A pulley allows you to lift the lid up and then pull it over to the side while you load and unload. Kiln furniture and shelves included; $300 for all. Separately, about 75 unused soft fire bricks are also available for $2 each. Camarillo location. Please contact Cyndi King Levander with offers and questions: (805) 402-4684.

Ricky Maldonado 

Ricky Maldonado passed away December 30, 2022. His ceramics career started with a nine-week course on handbuilding with Gene Brannum, creating his first piece using the pinching method. Brannum also taught him how to coil build, which made him feel more in tune with the material. Soon, he discovered he was unconsciously creating pieces that were evocative of his own Native American heritage, and he was inspired to learn more about the designs from his Apache and Yaqui roots. To widen his artistic range and develop further technically, Maldonado enrolled at Otis/Parsons Institute of Art to study with Ralph Bacerra. Everything began to come together when he started building his own personal style by combining some of the Native American influences with more contemporary designs.

His work was “labor intensive; each piece takes two to four weeks to make, depending on the size,” Maldonado explained. “I used to roll my coils by hand, but my mind works faster than my hands, so I started using an extruder that works like a water pump to accelerate the process. Then I pinch and smooth each coil, and when the pieces are dry, I sand them smooth. I then apply a coating of terra sigillata, which I make from the clay body.” The next step is the burnishing. Maldonado preferred to use the palms of his hands and a piece of fine plastic. This method yielded “a luster like the surface of a pearl instead of a shiny finish, as a stone would create.” After the piece had been burnished and dried, he applied colored slips made from the terra sigillata mixed with various oxides. He then applied the glaze “two dots at a time, using fine brushes.”

Celebration of Life; February 25 at 4 PM

American Legion Hall in Glendora.

All are welcome to share in the celebration of life. 

Peter Shire at Frieze, LA

February 16-19

Santa Monica Airport

3233 Donald Douglas Loop S, Santa Monica

Sales Opportunity at The Ventura County Fair!

The Ventura County Fair is looking for local artists to sell their work at the fair August 2nd - 13th. Spaces are available for all 12 days or for shorter time frames.  Contact Madalyn Johnson, Concessions/Commercial Manager directly at or call her at 805 648 3376 ext 104. This is not a Guild sponsored event, so you need not be a juried Plus member to participate.

VCPG Board

President: Wyn Matthews

Vice President: Interested? Contact President via Contact Form

Secretary: Stacy Rowe

Guild Bookkeeper: Interested? Contact President via Contact Form

VCPG Committee Chairs

Programs: Foz

Events (Sales/Shows): Interested? Contact President via Contact Form

Workshops: Interested? Contact President via Contact Form

Communications: Ruty Levy

Membership: Judy Winard

Gallery Chair: Sue Cline

Finance Chair: Wanda Ferrin

Jury Chair: Interested? Contact President via Contact Form

WebServices: Terry Wilson

Marketing: Ellen Wohlstadter

Team Services: Foz 

Outreach: Interested? Contact President via Contact Form 

If you wish to contact a Board Member or a Committee Chair, use the Contact Form

Our Mission Statement:

The Ventura County Potters’ Guild is a nonprofit organization committed to stimulating public interest in ceramic arts by providing networking, education and sales opportunities in an inclusive environment for all levels and interests. 

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