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VCPG Newsletter

March 2023
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VCPG March 2023 Newsletter

Members' Meeting March 27th

6:30pm Gathering / 7:00pm Meeting

Program: Thinking Ahead and Finishing my Work

See details below.

For Your Calendar:​

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

March 27th…….….….Members Meeting on Zoom; 6:30 Gathering

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

April 24th……….….…Members Meeting on Zoom; 6:30 Gathering

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

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

May 20th……….….….Optional Prep for Pit Fire - Santa Barbara @10am-noon

May 20th……….….….Optional Prep for Pit Fire - Ojai @2-4pm

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

May 22nd…….…..…..NO MEMBER MEETING (See May 21)

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

June 26th…..….….....Members Meeting on Zoom; 6:30 Gathering

President’s Musings • March 2023

Jingdezhen: China’s Porcelain City

I don’t normally troll around on YouTube. Last night was an exception. I’d gone there from a friend’s link and saw a recommended multi-hand throwing video of Jingdezhen Porcelain. I followed…

I’ve watched many videos of 2-6 people throwing huge pots in one piece or in sections. But had never watched the finishing process or seen the tools used for trimming. And, the fact that they trim the sections of large pots to get them to fit together correctly. Inside. Outside. Rim. Bottom.

I also noticed how soft the throwing clay is and how hard the clay is during trimming and joining sections. Porcelains I’ve used would not survive stacking/merging without cracking if they were that dry.

Throwing with really soft clay:

I considered going to Whichford Pottery about 25 years ago to work for a couple years. Anyone know of a studio in the US that goes through 200+ tons of clay a year and throws big pots with really soft clay?

Back to Jingdezhen… Check out this trimming/joining video:

Watching the trimming, I remember the many times I’ve been asked, “Is it “OK to trim the inside of a bowl?” Someone told these questioners to *never* trim the inside of a bowl. After the above video, that’s a humorous 1st world studio potter problem…

My bowl trimming questions are usually asking about the area near the bottom of the bowl where the reverse pressure—resistance—from the bat ends and one’s hands are floating in space. It’s not uncommon to have a slight raised bump here. My answer leads to a question about their Intent as a potter?

If one’s intent/practice is to be a “good enough” thrower then just keep fixing it. If one’s intent/practice is to be an "excellent/master" thrower, then the bump and its trimming is a station along the way to this bump issue evolving away. If it bugs you, “Go for it and monitor your progress.”

And a glimpse at “real” production pottery. I used to make around 50 pots a day and thought that was a lot. Of course I did all the phases of production. But…

Having an Intent vs. having a Goal….

Both have their place. Both produce results. Each creates a distinct world.

Goals are milestones. Intents are directions of travel.

Goals are like multiple choice questions. Intents are like open ended questions.

Goals are finite. Intents are endless, infinitely expanding.

I mostly live in an overlapping mosiac of intents.

Occasionally I discover a Goal along the way, fulfill in and mosey on.

I enjoy the unplanned discovery on the flowing river of intents.

It keeps life fresh and interesting.


Happy Potting,

Wyn Matthews, VCPG President

50+ year potter


March 2023 Member Meeting Program

Program: Thinking Ahead and Finishing my Work

Presenter: Calvin Hiser,

Join our March meeting

"My video will be talking about prep and thinking ahead. I will also address some techniques for finishing pieces as well as attaching handles. I will be working on a style I call my "Wonky" look. I look forward to talking afterwards and answering questions.”

Bio: From the beginning of my life, I have fond memories of playing in the mud and creating things. My brother and I used to fill our time making art with found objects or drawing the things in nature around us. I went on to university to study business but along the way I took an “easy A” art class in ceramics. It was anything but easy and my instructor saw how much I loved it, so he offered me an assistant job in the ceramics department. It was there that I discovered my love for hand building and the wheel. From there, I studied glaze theories and the techniques of firing a kiln properly.

After university, I took time away from creating to travel the world, start businesses and have a family. Having my kids around inspires me to be in touch with my inner child every day and my inner child has found its way back to the mud. Over the last decade I’ve built a home studio, as well as returned to university so that I can take all of the ideas I have in my head and create again.

I feel I was put on this earth to create, and clay has been the medium that I enjoy the most. I never feel better than when I am taking a lump of clay and creating a finished, functional vessel that someone can use or simply admire for its unique form or glaze. Even when I was away from “hands on” creating, I always had things in my mind that I simply needed to make. Now I am doing just that, creating what my soul tells me, in my home studio. I hope that my work resonates with others….and that it pulls them into my world for a moment. -- Calvin Hiser

WE need YOU!

It may not seem like it, but there is a lot happening behind the scenes. Members are deep into planning for the Ojai Pottery Market. Teams are doing photo shoots, developing a new public outreach postcard highlighting the Guild and Gallery, planning for the activities that are part of the May Pit Fire at Arroyo Verde Park, taking the new online clay ordering form for a spin to check it for accuracy and ease of use by both those ordering and those doing the accounting, transferring our labor heavy accounting system to Quickbooks, initiating steps toward our Guild becoming a 501c3 Non-Profit organization, beginning to look at options for a fall weekend workshop and so much more. We need YOU!

Check out opportunities to engage and be part of the workings of the Guild:

  • Pit Fire Gathering needs: A Hospitality Crew, a Pit Firing Crew, a wood cutter and members willing to share Tip and Trick demos during the day. 
  • There are also a couple of spots open on the Guild’s Program/Workshop Team if you would like a hand in selecting and presenting artists to our Guild at the Monthly Members’ meeting.
  • Open Board positions include: Treasurer, Outreach and Vice President. If you are keen on sales opportunities for juried members there is a new Sales and Events Team that has open spots. 
  • Have limited time yet may have space in your garage, we need an 8X10 storage spot for tables, signs and other Guild event equipment. We are also looking or an alternate clay delivery location.
  • It is also never too soon to sign-up to help with the Ojai Pottery Market.

Now is the time for Plus Team members to plan for completing their agreed Team Service for the year. Please check out any of the opportunities highlighted above or the many other options that are posted on the Guild’s Web Home Team Service page.

Pit Fire Gathering and Potluck 

In case you missed our February Members’ meeting and have not seen the general info about the upcoming “in person” May event (in lieu of our regular member meeting), here is the scoop:

On Sunday, May 21st we will be gathering at 10AM in Arroyo Verde Park, Redwood Glen BBQ area (at the back of the park) for the Pit Fire Gathering and Potluck. Details and registration for this event can be found here.

On Saturday, May 20th there are three optional prep workshops (Ojai, Kristen Clawson; Ventura, Genie Thomsen; and Santa Barbara, Rebecca Russell).

Registration for the Prep Workshops and the Pit Fire Potluck event are required.

If you would just like to come and hang out, please join us. We still need you to register so we know you are coming and what you will be bringing for the potluck.

The February Member meeting video (see below) will give you more specific information on how to prepare your work for the pit fire.

Additional information on pit firing and a couple of good videos explaining the process can be found here: Learning --> Programs--> Pit Firing Resources .

If you would like to help with the event, or if you have questions, please contact Programs on the About Us --> Contact Us page.

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.

The application form will be available in mid-April.

Summer Residency Program

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

Lou Ann Smith

Summer Residency Program Coordinator

April Board Meeting Link • 4/6/23 @3:00

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

Please contact Secretary on the About Us --> Contact Us page 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: April 6th, 2023 03:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 880 6793 7721

Passcode: 558245

Past Monthly Programs Online

February 2023 Members Meeting 

This and other select videos are available on our Learning --> Videos page. From there you may also click to our YouTube channel for our complete selection of videos and playlists. For questions or suggestions please contact Videos on the About Us --> Contact Us page.

Happy Potting,

Maree Cheatham

The VCPG Library

Interested in learning more about a specific area of ceramics? Check out VCPG's extensive library! Visit the Members --> Library page for everything you need to know.

VCPG’s Library offers members invaluable practical information as well as being a great source of artistic inspiration. You will want to take advantage of this excellent resource!

Browse the collection by visiting the Library page, then click on Check Out Item to complete the check out request form. Items will be shipped at no cost to you. You can return items via mail (at your cost) or to the gallery. 

 VCPG Library Book Review:


The Potter's Palette by Christine Constant and Steve Ogden is an easily accessible and practical guide to glaze development. The authors systematically added nine oxides (copper oxide, cobalt oxide, red iron oxide, etc.), four glaze stains, and three opacifiers to three base glazes fired at earthenware and stoneware temperatures. Over 700 glaze and slip test results are clearly shown in color photographs of each test tile. The tremendous range of color and surface qualities displayed in this handy guide will be an excellent resource for ceramic artists of all experience levels.

Do You Teach Pottery Classes?

If you are a Guild member who offers instruction/classes and are interested in listing your information on the Learning --> Find Classes page, please send your information to WebServices using the About Us --> Contact Us page. We will list your website or social media links, but will not be listing emails or phone numbers on the website.

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