Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Empty Bowls

It's hard to believe I've been doing wheel-thrown pottery for nearly a year now. On one hand, it feels like I've accomplished so much, while on the other hand, I cannot fathom how much more I still have to learn.

I took my first pottery class in November of 2007, right after the Empty Bowls event was over. I heard and saw some references to this charity and was intrigued enough to investigate further and to want to participate this year.

The Empty Bowls hunger project was started by a Michigan high school art teacher in 1990 as a way for his class to raise money for a food drive. By the following year, the concept had been picked up by potters and food banks, and it has evolved into a world-wide event. The local potters' guild, the Cincinnati Clay Alliance, has participated in the Empty Bowls project since the group's inception ten years ago.

The concept is simple. Local potters donate bowls and restaurants donate food. Guests pay $20 for a meal of soup and bread, and get to take home a one-of-a-kind, handmade pottery bowl as a reminder of the ongoing problem of hunger in the world. There is also a silent auction and a seconds table of bowls and other items for purchase. 100% of the proceeds go to fight hunger, in this case, benefiting the local Kids' Cafe, run by the FreestoreFoodbank.

This year, as in the past, the event was held at the Baker Hunt house, a cultural art center in Covington, KY.

My father ran a food bank in eastern Ohio and feeding the hungry is a cause that strikes close to my heart. I was anxious to help in my own little way, even though I'm not a member of the Clay Alliance. So, I went to work, making and glazing two bowls to donate, and took them to to Baker Hunt on Sunday.

I think I confused people when I showed up with my donations. No one seemed to know quite what to do with me, as I accosted first one, then another, name badge-wearing guild member, clutching my bowls. They sent me from one station to the next until I finally arrived at the bowl room with my gifts. One was deemed worthy of the main display, while the other, due to a glazing defect, was relegated to the "seconds" table. No matter. I did my part.

Participants could choose a a bowl from three long tables, offering many diverse selections.

This bowl of mine was one of them.

The glaze is one of my old favorites, chun plum.

Through no fault of my own, the glaze on the other bowl didn't come out perfect, so it was shuffled off to the seconds table. The Clay Alliance member there was happy to get it, and said it was good for someone of my level of experience. I meandered by later to see that they had put a $5.00 price sticker on it. I thought that was fair.

The glaze on this one is textured kiwi,
fast becoming a good friend,
and no, you can't see the mistakes in these views.
Do you really think I would take pictures
of the bad side of my work?

My kiwi bowl joined these pieces and others on the seconds table, where I hope a kind and loving soul will take pity on it and take it home.

After dropping off my bowls, I wandered around the grounds, taking pictures of people shopping

and dining al fresco on the lawn (a beautiful day for it.)

There was entertainment, too, in the form of a juggler, this musician,

and a potter, demonstrating her craft. She is doing what's called "throwing off the hump," where you produce many small pieces from one large hunk of clay.

Here is a short video of her at work. You can hear her talking to a very small girl, who was fascinated by the whole process. Perhaps she will be inspired to join a a new generation of potters some day.


holly-the-person said...

Very cool to watch. I could watch people throw pottery or spin or weave, all day. It's so much fun to watch someone who is enthusiastic about what they do. And kudos to Black Kat Pottery for your donation! I'm sure the buyer was as thrilled as I was with my first piece of BK!

NCmountainwoman said...

What a great idea. We have the same thing here. I found out who made my beautiful bowl and had him make us five more. I love them.

And your bowl is great. You really have a lot of talent.