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New pottery club for seniors at Hot Flash

By Alisha Siebers, Executive Director, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center

Hot Flash Pottery is partnering with the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center and South County Community Services to offer a pilot Pottery Club for seniors on March 14 and March 21.

The classes will provide instruction on how to hand-build a piece of pottery like a bowl, cup, or plate the first week, and then will offer the chance to glaze the piece on the second week.

Thanks to local donations and grants, the VCAC can help with the cost of the class: Pay what you can, ranging from $2 to $30, to cover the fee for the two classes. The generous volunteer drivers at South County Community Services will be on hand to help those who need rides. If you want to attend or would like more information, email Alisha at

We’re lucky to have a facility like Hot Flash Pottery right here in our back yard. The studio was opened at 102 S. Main in 2018 by mother-daughter team Lupe Smith and Veronica Levin. Veronica and her husband Scott moved to Vicksburg so they could raise their son in a small town close to family and Veronica realized she needed a place close to home where she could continue her creative projects.

Both owners have extensive experience in the arts. Lupe earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting at the University of Illinois and also studied ceramics in school.

Veronica has years of polishing her talents “on the side.” As a college student, she felt like she wouldn’t be able to be employed if she studied art, so she majored in rhetoric. Over the next 15 years, though, she took part-time classes to practice ceramics, oil painting and metalsmithing. While she worked as a graphic designer in Chicago for 10 years, her evenings were filled with workshops and classes at places like the Chicago Art Institute and the Lillstreet Art Center. She also studied ceramics at the University of Alaska when she lived in Anchorage and spent a year experimenting with metalsmithing in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Based on her experience, she has a message for artists today: Don’t let anyone discourage you, no matter what. You can support yourself and make a living in the arts.

Lupe and Veronica opened Hot Flash so that they could spread out in their own studio space. They bought their building at 102 S. Main from a dentist, which turned out to be a big plus because the building had plenty of sinks for pottery and metalsmithing.

People wonder what it’s like to own a mother-daughter business. Veronica explains that she loves running a business with her mom because they each bring different talents to the table. She jokes that her creative mother is “the MacGyver of the house — she comes up with so many things.” In contrast, Veronica is more methodical, preferring to go by the book or the recipe. She observes that her mom has helped her improve as an artist by helping her loosen up and let go of perfectionism.

Veronica has also been influenced by her father Ronald Smith, who worked as a veterinary professor at the University of Illinois. All her life, she’s had a tender spot for rescue animals and has helped rehabilitate a whole menagerie of critters, including, recently, a pair of raccoon babies found in front of the Methodist Church. At Hot Flash, when you buy from a selected collection of bowls, Veronica will donate all of the proceeds to support local efforts to rehabilitate wild animals.

If you’d like to create something new, you can spend time with Veronica and Lupe and their friendly golden retriever, Ava, to learn how to hand-build ceramics or how to throw pottery on one of the nine wheels in their studio. They also offer instruction in acrylic pour and painting techniques. Veronica sees Hot Flash as “a gathering place for people who want to unwind and need a creative outlet.” She loves to see people of all ages connecting and getting to know each other. She and Lupe are proud to offer their expertise and equipment so that the arts can be more accessible to folks in southern Kalamazoo County. If you would like to know more about the classes they offer, to take as an individual or maybe to use for a date night or team-building event, visit their website:

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