• Rajaa Ayoubi

EMPTY BOWLS | Community Service

Empty Bowls, is a large fundraiser for the Food Bank in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Every year, Empty Bowls works internationally and brings artists and communities together to raise awareness and funds to fight hunger in their respective communities. And ceramic bowls are made each year with the help of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, South Texas College, and the community of the Rio Grande Valley.  In order to get hundreds of bowls thrown, glazed, and decorated, the fundraiser hosts mobile paint parties with organizations, small businesses, and other community groups.

This year, I have volunteered with my fellow students as part of the the Ceramic Organization in the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, to make ceramic bowls for the fundraiser.

It was a challenging job to do in quarantine, being stuck at home with little resources and tools to work with, but that didn't stop us from connecting online and working together. It was an honorable and fun experience, and it feels really good to be able to make something I love, then share it with people in need.

The Process of Making my Bowls:

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 quarantine, I was not able to use a potters wheel to throw the bowls I wanted to make, because I was working from home and didn't own a wheel. But I was able to hand build the bowls, and that was fine because I enjoy hand building pottery.

I started with the soft workable clay. Wedged it, then rolled it out. I made a template for the bowl then traced it on the slab of clay and cut it out. I made two different shaped bowls. The photo on the left is the cutout for the small bowl. And for the big one, I cut out a C shape.

Then I started shaping the bowls. This was the big bowl after I shaped the "C" cutout and joined the open edges so it could raise upwards. I smoothed the joined area and left it to firm up so I can attach the bottom without it folding in on itself.

Once it became close to leather hard, I attached the bottom rim of the bowl and closed it up, and smoothed it out. Meanwhile, I had my other smaller bowl slab formed over a kitchen porcelain bowl to take the same dome shape. Both bowls were then ready for smoothing and refining.

When, they became leather hard, I carved away the bumps and imperfections, and leveled the rim and smoothed out the edges, till the bowls were looking polished and as good-looking as I can get them compared to thrown bowls.

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