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empty bowls phoenix (long)

updated tue 30 sep 97


Michelle H. Lowe on mon 29 sep 97

In light of all the recent interest in Empty Bowls projects, I
thought I'd share a bit of the history of Phoenix's Empty Bowls.

But first! The originators of Empty Bowls are willing to share a
*free* packet of information to get your project started, I don't have
an email address, but they will accept snail mail or telephone
requests and quickly mail you out a great little packet.

John Hartom or Lisa Blackburn
2691 Noble Road
Oxford MI 48370


Phoenix has had Empty Bowls projects going for seven years now!
We have three fairly large groups who have a sale every year in
October (plus more smaller ones are starting up these days).
Each group has their own sponsoring restaurant/food source,
and each benefits a different local charity (all of which feed the
poor). I have participated in the sales, hosted by Arizona Clay club,
for three years now. The last couple years, our goal has been to
have 3000 bowls, plus the "celebrity silent auction". A local parks
and rec clay department hosts a couple "throwing days" during the
year, and takes care of firing and glazing (yay City of Phoenix!), a
local college, Grand Canyon University also hosts a throwing day,
which was held on Sept. 6 and netted 400+ bowls in one day! I am
volunteering a couple days this week and next to go down and help
Esmerelda Delaney (the clay teacher there) glaze all of those (yay
Esmerelda and GCU). Our clay is donated, some by our local clay
distributorship (yay Marjons!) (I think they gave us a couple tons
this year), and some money for clay is donated by other local business
folks (including the board members of Waste Not, the charity we
benefit). Some potters just make bowls at home and get clay in
return. (yay Waste Not, yay potters!) Some folks from out of town
send things in, and we hit up the artists who do workshops here in
town, throughout the year.

Our sale is a feeding frenzy...we have it advertised as running
11-2 but in reality, folks are lining up before 10:30am. The
restaurant is located in downtown Phoenix, so a Friday sale allows all
the local business folks to come have lunch with us. It's great fun!
I love sifting through 3000 bowls, what a huge dose of eye-candy!
Tables with bowls are arranged in a circle, with "unboxers" inside the
table area, and shoppers outside. The buyers choose, and are then
funnelled past the cashier table and sent to get their bowls washed
after which they go through the food line. There are also stations
for washing bowls after eating out of them. This system works pretty
well, having been refined over the years. 100% of the money taken in
on the sale day goes to the charity.

Our silent auction raised five thousand dollars last year. I think
the total take was something like $26,000. This year we had a slight
change in routine. The originators of Empty Bowls are Unitarian
Universalists. Their national group had it's annual conference here
in Phoenix this last June. They asked our Empty Bowls chairperson
(who as it happens is also a UU), if she would provide bowls for an
"extra" sale, for their conference-goers. 100% of the money to be
donated to OUR cause, Waste Not (who takes perishable foods from
restaurants, hotels etc. and delivers them to shelters, halfway houses
etc.)! Helen Helwig took on the job and the club members delivered
1500 bowls for their conference. Priced at 10 bux apiece, they sold
them during the conference in the gift shop area (without food) and
also on a specified lunchtime date with food. Fifteen hundred bowls,
and we raised TWENTY thousand dollars...these people were donating
MORE than the amount we asked, to feed *Phoenix's* hungry, it was
really awesome. As Helen was announcing to the conference that we had
raised $19,400, some anonymous donor walked up behind the podium with
a check for $600, he just wanted her to be able to say it was

Our sale this year is coming up next month, on Friday October 17,
hosted by Lombardi's restaurant at the Arizona Center (yay
Lombardi's!). We can still use some bowls, if anyone is nearby or
just feels the urge to contribute, we are scrambling to get our 3000
after hosting the earlier sale in June :-) If you are interested in
sending bowls (I'm tempted to pack some up for Emily), please email me
and let me know! Sorry for the bandwidth everyone, but it's for a
good cause!

Happy potting,
Mishy, who made 100 bowls for the June sale and is making 150 more for
next month...

firing 99 in my new kiln RIGHT NOW...
Michelle Lowe, potter in the Phoenix desert \|/ | -O- | | /|\ | | |
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