help_outline Skip to main content

VCPG Newsletter

May 2023
Author Last Post

VCPG May 2023 Newsletter

Members' Meeting : Pit Fire

See May 21

For Your Calendar:​

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

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

July 31st…..….….......Members Meeting on Zoom - Clay Challenge/Pit Fire Theme

...............................6:30 Gathering, 7 PM Meeting

August 3rd……...…....Board Meeting @ 3:00pm

August 28th…..….…..Members Meeting on Zoom; 6:30 Gathering, 7 PM Meeting

President’s Musings • May 2023

Ceramic Kaleidoscope 

When we were in Chicago last week one of the highlights was a day at the Chicago Art Institute. There were 3 pots from Egypt that were paradigm changing for me. I know much more about the Asian Ceramic world than I do the Mediterranean Ceramic world. This is a factor in the big insight. But not the biggest factor. 

These pots are from upper class graves, made around 3500 BCE.

I look at them and see 5000+ year old beginnings of Terra Sigilatta, Sgraffito, and spiral patterns. 2500-3000 years later these technologies had moved from pottery community to pottery community around the Mediterranean Sea through changes in language and culture to become the Black and Red pots of Greece with their perfect slip coverings, masterfully incised story drawings (sgraffito). And the spiral patterns… The Egyptians didn’t have pottery wheels at this time. The first wheels arise in Egypt about 1000 years later. They did have other spinning things, so there was some spinner thing — we call it a banding wheel (?) — to place the pot on in varying angles to make the spirals. The museum description card says that spirals were very common decorative motifs in Northern Africa at this time.

Spirals. Waves Diamonds. These and another patterns are common on all continents. They are the natural expressions of early humans on caves, rocks, clothes, ritual objects and on ceramics as it arises. They arise from something within us. This couldn’t have migrated around the planet in those ancient times by travelers.

The common element of it all is us. Humans.

I look at the pots and see that the intelligence that created these is no different that mine. The sense of beauty. The sense of form. The harmony and balance. The immense attention to detail. The skill involved in this level of work. No different than mine.

These were people just like us. Doing something they loved in small workshops. The potters would have been the most skilled as they were making for the elite, and maybe lower royalty. And they would have been working at the edges of known technology. Experimenting. Testing. Blowing or melting some pieces. Creating an expanding sphere of what they know, understand and can reproduce. Excitedly opening their kiln. Occasionally removing a piece in wonder as all the elements come together!

When I stood there in the Chicago Art Institute and looked at these pots I was that 5000 year old potter.

If you remove all the culture, the language, the explanations about the universe, the earth, humans, existence; remove all the What, Why, How, When, and Where questions you’re left with the Who question.

The Who that stands and looks at your ceramic world is no different from the Who that looks 5000 years ago at that ancient Egyptian ceramic world.

The Who is primarily curious. Looking for patterns to create understanding. Discovering how things work. Learning how to repeat a series of actions to create predictable results. Noticing what doesn’t work and being curious again. Finding and following a sensorial experience of beauty, balance, harmony.

You too are that 5000 year old Egyptian potter. And the 8000 year old Japanese Jomon potter. And the 2800 year old Greek potter. And the 15,000 year old Lascaux Cave painter.

All that is different between us and these ancient artists is the stories we carry around that the group(s) we “belong” to agree are valid. The mental content has evolved and changed. The Who, which is not the content, is the same.

Next time you’re in your studio, see if you can see what you’re up to through the eyes of your 5000 years old potters’ Who. Then stand in that Who to work at the edges of your knowledge, skill and technology. It’s where curiosity is required.

Happy Who?ing, 

Wyn Matthews, VCPG President

50+ year potter


2023 Ojai Pottery Market

The 2023 Ojai Pottery Market will be held at Libbey Park on June 10th from 10am to 6pm and June 11th from 10am to 5pm. 

If you are not participating, be sure to come and visit with everyone, see what people are making and just enjoy time amongst your tribe. 

There will be a Zoom training for participating artists Wednesday, May 17; watch your email for the Zoom invite. 

The Ojai Pottery Market is a wonderful opportunity to provide service to the guild. Sale proceeds support Guild program member benefits and outreach during the year. Please consider lending a hand in making the sale a success. This event provides Plus members with a date certain for you to complete your Team Service to the Guild. Sign up here - you need to LOGIN to see the opportunities available. There will be a Zoom training for cashiers the first week of June.


In April, VCPG continued its tradition of providing awards to local ceramic students at Ventura College (VC) and Santa Barbara Community College (SBCC).

Ventura College students:

Daniel Toshiro-Dyke won the Award of Excellence - $200 and an VCPG membership.

Patricia Keller won the Award of Merit - $100 and a VCPG membership.

SBCC student Sean Walker won the $250 VCPG award and membership (no photos were available by the deadline).

These student awards are intended to build ongoing relationships between the Guild and local ceramic programs and their students, with a goal of encouraging emerging young artists to join our wonderful clay community.

At the April 20th Ventura College Student Art Show VCPG member Elena Berdnikova won best in show with her piece “Spark of Creation”. 

"Spark of Creation" by Elena Berdnikova 

Ventura College has purchased Elena’s piece for their permanent collection. 

Elena says "The 2023 Annual Student Art Exhibition at Ventura College is an amazing feast of art: paintings, drawings, ceramics, color design, 3D design, sculptures. There are lots of incredible works created by talented students at Ventura College. I still can't believe that I was honored to receive the President's Award of Excellence - Best of Show. I'm so grateful. It was an unforgettable day for me. Many thanks to my professor of ceramics Jenchi Wu for her support and believing in me. She encouraged me to go beyond limits, to experiment, to explore, and I did."


Maree Cheatham 2nd Place

Maree Cheatham won 2nd place for her tea set in the American Ceramics Society President’s Show at Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts in Ojai. The exhibit showcases work until June 25th.

BUNNY TEA PARTY: Teapot and cookie jar are sold; the platter is available. 

BWCA workshop with Maryann Cord

A Monthly Raku Event starting in June with Ian Bermann

Date: 6/29 at 1:00pm at Studio Channel Islands.

6 participants. Fee is $80.00

Glazes will be provided, but B.Y.O.B (bring your own Brushes). Up to 3 pieces (bisques fired).

Ian will share his examples and offer insights.

It’s a learning experience, a chance to talk shop with other potters.

"I’m going to make it happen as often as is necessary. I want it to be a monthly event".

Email Ian with questions or to rsvp:

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 is available on --> Buy Our Pottery --> Beatrice Wood Show webpage and is due on June 11.


TEAM SERVICE! This is a serious reminder, to all Plus Tier members, of your agreement to complete some form of team service to our Guild during 2023. The Ojai Pottery Market is coming up June 10th and 11th. There are a number of spots open that need support from our members. Assisting in this event may complete your team service. There are also a wide variety of spots open to assist with an entire range of Guild activities and events. Please take time now to review these opportunities and commit to your service. Show your support today by signing up> Guild-->Team Service Sign-up. If you need help understanding/navigating the sign-up process check out the tutorial at Members--> Tutorials --> Team Service. Plus tier members who do not complete a team service during 2023 will not be eligible to renew their membership in 2024 at the Plus Tier level. This means you will not be able to participate in sales opportunities or purchase clay and materials. If you are at a loss, please email

The VCPG Library

Interested in learning more about a specific area of ceramics?

Check out VCPG's professional library.

Our collection currently contains 42 DVDs and over 140 books. There is something for everyone, so please take advantage of this amazing resource!

Browse the collection by visiting the Library page under the Member Menu on 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 Art of Crystalline Glazing: Basic Techniques by Jon and Leroy Price. This comprehensive guide offers step-by-step instructions for preparing and applying crystalline glaze, detailed information on firing schedules, as well as recipes for low and high fire crystalline glazes. Throughout the book, the authors emphasize the importance of experimentation and accurate documentation of test results. They also provide troubleshooting tips for common problems and advice on how to avoid them. This book is a must read for ceramic artists interested in mastering this challenging but rewarding technique. 

Return to Forum
Create with Us