October 2009

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empty bowls

Let the fun (and fundraising) begin!!!

Empty Bowls is a regionally executed, national event that seeks to raise money and awareness for those who haven’t enough to eat through the sale of handmade ceramic bowls.

The story goes:

In 1990, a high school art teacher in Michigan created an event – selling ceramic bowls – to help students raise money for a food drive.  Making the bowls became a class project for a fundraising meal.  Guests were served a simple meal of soup and bread.  The bowls were theirs to keep as a reminder of hunger in the world.

By the following year, the originators had expanded the idea into Empty Bowls; an event that would help provide for food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations that help fight hunger.

So then, every October throughout the country, Empty Bowl events raise thousands of dollars to support local charities that support those in need.


On October 28th, Mesa Community College will host their event to benefit Paz de Cristo.  There will be thousands of bowls to choose from – each bowl costs $10 – and a silent auction.  This year there will also be an evening event on campus with live music by Desert Gumbo.

the specifics:

  • October 28th – that’s a Wednesday.
  • 11-3 and 5-8 with music by Desert Gumbo.
  • on the MCC campus in the Kirk Student Center, Navajo Rm.

    Be sure to make plans to attend if you’re in the area.  Not from this neck of the woods?  Look for an Empty Bowl event near you and have fun!

    more info:
    Empty Bowls

    Mesa Community College Empty Bowls

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    creative momentum


    The ceramic process has a sort of rhythm to it.  Moments of creative energy interrupted by more mundane tasks.  In my studio, it goes a little like this:

    • the idea: time with the sketchbook.  Anything is possible!
    • creating: a frenzy of creative energy.
    • finishing: critical focus to refine the work.
    • drying: akin to watching the grass grow.
    • bisque firing: unless you’re single firing work, this is really just dutiful preparation for the next step.
    • glaze application: if I’ve done my homework, this is another flurry of creative energy.
    • glaze firing: another chore.  However, this time it’s fueled by anticipation of the finished work.
    • unloading the kiln: here is where the anticipation of what could be and the fears of what might actually be come together.  It’s Christmas and I’m 8 years old.  Even the pinging of the still warm pieces when I sneak a peak into the kiln before unloading sing with excitement!

    Considering the rise and fall of the ceramic process, it becomes necessary to work two cycles that compliment each other.

    ~glaze tests

    ~glaze tests

    For instance, currently I have clay drying on the tables.  So then, I’m also glazing work and running glaze tests.  We could call it an efficient use of studio time.  But, I tend to think of it as a practical preservation of creative momentum; leaving no opportunity to misplace my motivation.

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    “Bells, buzzers, sirens and horns ringing in my head.
    Bill’s Budget Savings and Loan always in the red.
    Time schedules, deadlines and forms I think I’ll go crazy.
    I wish I could remember what is was like to be lazy.”

    ~ Make A Difference Tonight by the 77’s

    I have a few small commission pieces in the works.  Commission work is always a bitter-sweet situation…or maybe closer to a backhanded compliment – at least in my head.

    Commissions are validation.  My work is validated by the people seeking me out to have a specific, personal work made for them.  Admittedly that validation feels good; the sweet complimentary side of commission work.

    Commissions provide a challenge – meeting the expectations of the client while not compromising composition and artistic integrity.  My challenge often moves closer to frustration as I struggle to find balance.  I care about good composition.  I should.  The visual response to my work is one of the reasons I get commission work.  I like to tell myself it’s the overriding reason someone wants my work.  However, I know there are other qualifying factors.

    Coupled with the challenge of meeting expectations and self imposed deadlines, I don’t get much of my own work done.  That seems to escalate my frustration.

    ~sketches for interior tiles

    ~sketches for interior tiles

    This week I finished up nine small sketches for interior tiles that will be installed in a home in Texas.  My thought was that I would get these sketches onto clay, dried and into the kiln by next week.  An impossible task.  I set myself up for failure.  My kiln is already loaded with bone dry work – including an earlier commission piece – ready to be fired.  A second commission is under plastic; drying slowly.  My unrealistic expectation to get these tiles in the kiln was driven by a desire to get to my own work.  The thought that I could whip these pieces out quickly so as to not impact my schedule was foolish.


    In the end, when the commission work is complete, I still have a mountain of my own work (currently: 90+ pieces) sitting in wait for tests to be run, glazes to be made and applied – ultimately creating more frustrations…challenges…sweet challenges.

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