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Clay Club “Empty Bowls” to feed the hungry

Bowls waiting to be glazed for the Clay Club Empty Bowls fundraiser May 1.
Bowls waiting to be glazed for the Clay Club Empty Bowls fundraiser May 1.
Maria Ignacio '12

Every form made on the pottery wheel — even a plate — starts from two base shapes: a bowl and a cylinder. So, its no surprise that bowl-making is one of the first skills that St. Catherine University’s ceramics instructor Monica Rudquist teaches in her wheel-thrown pottery class.

Last summer, Rudquist and her students made about 50 bowls for the Empty Bowls project organized by Seward Montessori in Minneapolis. This spring, Rudquist and members of the St. Kate’s Clay Club are aiming to throw or handcraft 500 bowls for their very own Empty Bowls fundraiser on May 1 in Coeur de Catherine.

Buy a bowl to help others

Sunday, May 1
Noon–3 p.m.
Rauenhorst Ballroom, CDC
Suggested donation: $10 (includes a souvenir bowl, soup and bread)

All proceeds will benefit Open Arms, a nonprofit based in Minneapolis that prepares and delivers meals to those with serious illness or diseases and their families.

Want to make a bowl?

April dates listed in story.

Questions: e-mail


Empty Bowls is a national effort to raise money and awareness to end hunger and food insecurity. Michigan high school art teacher, John Hartom, came up with the idea in the early 1990s. His students made ceramic bowls in their art classes and the finished products were used as serving dishes for a fundraising meal of soup and bread. Donors could pick out their favorite bowl and then keep it after the meal.

Since fall 2010, the Clay Club has hosted more than five public bowl-making sessions on the St. Paul campus free of charge. The club has upwards of 300 bowls stored in the basement of the Visual Arts Building.

“Bowls for the Empty Bowls project do not need to be wheel thrown,” says Rudquist, the club advisor. “They can be handmade as well. Students from my Clay Sculpture class have contributed bowls, and our workshops are open to everyone. No experience necessary.”

Upcoming bowl-making sessions (free; no sign-up needed) are Tuesdays, April 5 and 12, from 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays, April 2, 9 and 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the ceramics studio — beneath the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery.

“All you have to bring is yourself; we’ll be there to guide you,” says Kaitlin Reed ’12, Clay Club president and psychology major. “We’ve had pretty much every age range at our workshops, including kids and parents, and a lot of people who show up are amazed that there are so many different ways to create a bowl.”

Visitors who don’t want to make a bowl can help decorate or glaze one created by a Clay Club member instead.

“The bowls really are one in a million — they’re all different styles and all different colors,” Reed adds. “At our big event on May 1, you won’t find two bowls that look the same.”

So, arrive early to find your favorites. (See sidebar for details.)

March 30, 2011 by Pauline Oo

See also: Arts, Social Justice, Students