Thursday afternoon Amanda Skipworth was in full production, throwing chunks of gray clay on her pottery wheel and spinning them into simple, yet stylish, bowls.
One after another, the Enumclaw resident and former Green River Community College pottery student kept turning out clay bowls.
She wasn’t alone in the Auburn campus pottery studio. All around her were volunteers, former students, staff members, faculty and even Enumclaw Mayor Liz Reynolds.
All were working feverishly to produce between 150 and 200 bowls for Enumclaw’s inaugural Empty Bowls program.
Empty Bowls is an international grass roots effort to fight hunger. Artists create handcrafted bowls; guests pay $20 to attend the simple soup meal and choose a bowl to take home as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.
The purpose is to raise awareness and financial support for local food banks – in this case, Plateau Outreach Ministries and the Kiwanis Food Bank.
Reynolds discovered the Empty Bowls program a few years ago and was waiting for the right opportunity to bring it to Enumclaw. That time came this year when GRCC Enumclaw Campus Director Diane Anderson brought it to Reynolds, after the college’s Auburn campus saw success with it in the spring.
Skipworth was also part of the planning. She participated in Auburn’s program.
“It was something I was really hoping we could do after Auburn,” she said. “It kind of came together without even trying.”
Reynolds said when the city cut its funding to POM, she knew there was a great need for the services the organization provides and wanted to come up with a way to offset the funding losses.
“It’s a big community thing to help those who are less fortunate,” she said.
The answer was Empty Bowls.
Paul Metivier, fine arts faculty in ceramics at GRCC, was instantly on board. Throw-off fundraisers are something Metivier remembers from his days as a student. Artists, he said, often don’t have money to donate to causes, but they have talent.
Last spring, the students threw 200 pots for the Auburn Food Bank. “It went off so well,” he said. “Why not for Enumclaw? We have students from Enumclaw.
“We’re a community college, community is where we serve and it’s one way to be part of the community.”
Metivier said the throw-off is not just a good way for students to give back to the community, but it helps develop their pottery and team-building skills.
Using 250 pounds of clay donated by Clay Arts Center in Tacoma and 250 pounds from Arts Alive!, Thursday’s group planned to create between 150 and 200 bowls. Eventually, the bowls will be trimmed, glazed and fired.
But Enumclaw’s Empty Bowls organizers are hoping to collect 400 bowls to raise $8,000.
“For a first time that’s a pretty big wish,” Reynolds said. “We want it to become an annual event.”
Reynolds plans to donate 30 to 40 from her Out of the Fire Studio, and looking for other artists to donate handcrafted bowls in any medium before Feb. 14.
“The bowl is the symbol,” Anderson said. “The vessel; It doesn’t have to hold liquid. The bowls have to be handcrafted, but not necessarily from clay. They can be glass, wood, felt, anything artistic.
The event is planned for 4 to 8 p.m. March 2 at the Enumclaw High School commons.
In addition to those mentioned, the Enumclaw Rotary and Enumclaw School District are also on board, but there is still a need for sponsors to cover costs so all money raised supports the hungry. Needed are local restaurants to supply bread, soup or service ware and volunteers to help make it happen.
For information, visit the website at www.emptybowlswa.org or e-mail Anderson at DAnderson@greenriver.edu.