Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Throw a bowl for Empty Bowls!

Today I went up to Burnsville to John Hartom's studio to throw bowls for Empty Bowls. My pal Becca Floyd came along, and with a stunning view in front of us, Tilly the wonder dog brazenly taking on Lissa the ambivalent snoozer, fun chat and a delightful lunch break, we managed to produce some bowls that will be used for a variety of Empty Bowl projects.

John & Becca hard a work ...the view from the wheels

It was also a special treat because John is kindly letting me keep my standing kick wheel at his studio while my own studio is under development. This was the second time I've used it since he also kindly picked it up from Oddfellows Antiques where I bought it, after he (John again) kindly passed on to me, at his wife Lisa's suggestion, that it was there for sale. They are indeed very kind folk! I had planned to give Lisa the first piece I threw on that wheel, but John keeps taking them all for Empty Bowls...guess I gotta throw a bottle or something else.

my wheel...isn't it yummy?!

The front treadle on the wheel is great, I can change legs when I get tired. It seems to be just the right height for me, and I really like the rhythym of the kick. Definitely for soft clay! I had wedged a couple of balls early on that would be fine on an electric, then found softer clay and prepped more of those that I threw first. When I got to one of the first balls, it was not pretty. A very wonky bowl resulted.

some of our fruits...

It's always a lot of fun throwing - and it's a challenge for those of us who insist on putting trimmed feet on our bowls as a matter of course. At John's studio, the focus is usually to throw bowls that don't need trimming, so we can spend more time throwing more bowls! We usually leave before the bowls are dry enough to handle, so John cleans, alters, decorates and stamps those that we throw, then bisques them. When he gets a kiln load, he fires the kiln that Tracy Dotson helped him build and then the bowls go to various Empty Bowls events in the area and around the country.

If you don't already know about this event, find one near you! If you're within my reach, you're lucky if I haven't already hit you up for a bowl or to buy a ticket! The Asheville event happens every year on World Food Day, October 16, although there are lots of other events in and around the area at other schools, studios and art centers. If you want to find a way to make a tangible difference in your community in helping to raise awareness of hunger issues and feeding people, you can join or start your own Empty Bowls event (go back to the link at the top of the's all there!). Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in Asheville will host an Empty Bowls Project class starting in mid August. John moderates the class and brings in guest artists to demo bowl making and decorating each week, and Highwater Clays donates all the clay and firings. For a modest lab fee, participants get mini workshops with some of the areas most talented artists, and all the bowls go to the October event that benefits Manna Food Bank. Keep an eye on Odyssey's website or call to find out when registration opens, as that class always fills fast. Becca Floyd signed on today to be one of the guest artists, and you know I'll post the full roster once it's nailed down! Stay tuned, and go make a bowl! xoxo

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