Every year my students and I host a fundraiser called Empty Bowls. It’s an amazing even that raises money and awareness about hunger. Empty Bowls started as a grassroots movement, and has grown into nationwide fundraiser since. Every year I am touched by the amount of time and effort my students put into this to help out their community. All the proceeds we raise are donated to a local food shelter, a place that in the past has also helped many of the students at our school.
For the fundraiser I have all my students make two bowls out of clay. They plan out their bowl, the shape, design, technique they will use. They put time and thought into it, and in the end they have to give them away. For the fundraiser we take all of the bowls and host a dinner, we serve chili, bread, chips, and drinks. To attend you buy a ticket, which covers the cost of the food and drink, and you get to take home a handmade bowl. The bowl is meant to be put on display, and stay empty, to serve as a reminder that there are people who are chronically hungry, worldwide as well as in our community.
This is one of my favorite projects because I get a chance to see another side of my students. I am always surprised to see how dedicated they are to helping out others in their community. It’s a lot of work to get an event like this running, but it is incredibly rewarding to see how it impacts these kids.
In addition to my students making bowls, I also make bowls to raffle off and place in a silent auction as extra funding for our event. Last year one of the items I put up for the raffle was my bird bowl. To create this bowl I threw it on the wheel, or made it using a pottery wheel. I then used underglaze to paint the bird design. Underglaze is a type of glaze you can use to paint designs on clay with because it doesn’t “move” as much as typical glaze when it is fired. I used tawny low fire glaze near the bird, and blue-green low fire glaze towards the outside. I painted the glaze on thick, then ran a paint brush through the glaze to take off the excess, which created the wavy pattern.
This is a bowl I made for the silent auction year before last, which was also made on a pottery wheel. If you decide to start working on the wheel pick out a tools with different shapes. Every tool creates a different look and design in a pieces of clay. I used a metal loop tool, with notches taken out of one side, which created an interesting line pattern when I dragged it along the side. To create the pattern on the inside I took a paint brush, dipped it in glaze, and without removing the excess glaze put a dot on the side, which dripped down to the center.
This bowl was made two years ago for my first Empty Bowls silent auction. I used white clay, which always makes colors pop. I used a similar drip technique as the first, which caused more glaze to gather in the bottom of the bowl than on the sides. I like this technique because it creates a pop of color in the center of the bowl. When you finish creating the bowl form on the wheel, you remove it and let it dry out just a little bit until it is leather hard. When it reaches this state you put it back on the pottery wheel, but upside down, and cut the excess clay off to form the bottom. While trimming this bowl I liked the way the pieces looked that I trimmed off. I decided to take the pieces and score and slip them to the bowl to create a design. I was really happy with the end result!
I hope you enjoyed my clay bowl round up! I love making bowls, they are a great first project if you are first starting to learn how to throw on a potters wheel. If you want to learn more about my clay pieces and using the pottery wheel click here to read about one of my teapots.
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