Chris Schafale on tue 23 jan 01
So, I have a local church that wants to do an Empty Bowls event
(on Feb. 28!!), but I, and our local potters group, are up to our ears
with the NCECA EB planning and bowl-making. I had the idea that
I might offer to spend an evening with the church members making
bowls (and decorating them green?) which I would fire later. I
thought about press molding as something easy and not too
messy that folks could do without a lot of instruction. Then, I
thought, I don't have dozens of molds, but what about using heavy-
duty paper bowls (e.g., Chinet). Has anyone ever tried this? Is
this a terrible idea? Do you have a better suggestion (other than
telling them to wait until next year)? Thanks for any ideas.
Light One Candle Pottery
Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, USA
(south of Raleigh)
Valice Raffi on wed 24 jan 01
I just finished a workshop on an Empty Bowls Project in a prison. As we
have no wheels (and I don't throw!), everything was made by handbuilding
processes. We made well over 100 bowls and most of the women had never
worked with clay before.
I brought in 5 bisqued examples of bowls: pinched, coiled, and pressed.
There were two types of pressed bowls; torn textured slabs (sort of ala
Dannon's pot within a pot method - thanks Dannon!), and "laid in" slabs -
both smoothed on the insides. One example had a rim made from a flattened
I brought in a number of plastic bowls that we used as molds, picked them
up cheap at a thrift store. There were a lot of different shapes, but were
generally of a similar size. We used torn strips of newspaper for easy
I also made up hand-out sheets with drawings and descriptions of the
methods. I did quick demontrations, my studio safety lecture & let them
have at it. It was probably the most energized workshop I've ever given.
Someone asked at the beginning how many bowls needed to be made & when I
said at least 100, there were looks of dismay. You should have seen the
smiles of pride when we counted them at the end!
We added feet to some of them - one woman made her bowls into fat bellies
with *human* feet attached - too cool!
The bowls were bisqued & then I went back to the prison for a glazing
session. We did some underglazing which we fired, then covered with a
clear coat & fired again. We also used the Opulence Glazes from Mid-South.
Everything was fired to ^6. I wasn't there for the unloading, but I heard
that the bowls look great!
So yes, it can be done - the women at Valley State Prison for Women
(Chowchilla, CA) can testity to that!
wishing I could fondle some of those bowls
Bobbi Bassett on wed 24 jan 01
In a message dated 01/24/2001 10:29:20 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> I don't have dozens of molds, but what about using heavy-
> duty paper bowls (e.g., Chinet). Has anyone ever tried this? Is
> this a terrible idea? Do you have a better suggestion (other than
> telling them to wait until next year)? Thanks for any ideas.
I have used the deep large styrofoam meat containers as drape molds for free
form deep trays. I just leave them on the styro until they set up enough to
hold their shape and be "workable". At a workshop Vince talked about using
builders styrofoam. Maybe he can elaborate on this and refresh my memories
Bobbi in PA
Joan Ashworth on thu 25 jan 01
Cheap plastic bowls, sprayed with Spray and Cook (if it's called that in the
US) work extremely effectively.
skye on thu 25 jan 01
Yes! you can use "chinet" heavy-duty paper bowls to make bowls in!
I've used them for pre-school through senior center first time bowl makers! The styrofoam bowls break too easily, while the creased/pleated bowls come unpleated & lose their shape.
Designs can be pressed into the clay before draping into the bowls (rubber stamps, leaves, etc). Lift the edges of the clay as you're smoothing it into the bowl (damp 1/4 cheap sponge) to prevent air bubbles. Cut off the excess clay (like pie crust). decorate the inside of the bowl (I have alphabet macaroni for people's names).
Colored slips, or underglazes can go on the wet clay. OR visit again in a week with bisqued bowls for glazing. I usually put a coat of clear glaze over kids bowls to make sure they're functional.
We sold over 100 (mostly first-timer) bowls to give over $1500 to Food Share for our first annual Lincoln County Oregon Empty bowls Project last December. I'm going to an elementary school today to teach the teachers how to teach the kids how to make bowls this way.