February 11, 2010

They paint soup bowls ... so that others may eat

Kate Proeber, left and Suzanne Schackelman decorate bowls

Forty members of the Racine Art Guild got together Thursday night to paint ... soup bowls.

The event was one of many taking place this month, as volunteers get together to create the one-of-a-kind handmade soup bowls that are the centerpiece -- well, along with home-made soup, of course! -- of the Empty Bowls fund-raiser that benefits the Racine County Food Bank and the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization shelter.

Empty Bowls takes place at the Masonic Center on March 1. Guests pay $15 for a meal of delicious soup -- all you can eat -- and freshly baked bread. And, of course, their choice of one of hundreds of lovingly hand-made bowls.

Candace Hoffman,
a fibre artist, used
netting from an onion
bag to add pattern to her bowl

Which is where the Art Guild came in Thursday ... one of many organizations lending a creative hand. The Art Guild members each painted glaze on a pottery bowl at Fired Up! Racine, 320 Main St., leaving the hard work of drying, hand-dipping (twice) in outer glaze, firing for 24 hours in the kiln, drying again, and grinding the bottom smooth, etc. to Jane Fogle, the store's proprietor.

Jane hosts groups like the Junior League, the Boy Scouts, Educators Credit Union... the list goes on ... who paint that first, decorative coat of glaze on each bowl. Then she does the rest, making the bowls food-safe and soup-ready. She estimates that she and her shop will prepare 400 bowls this year -- cheerfully donating her effort (for the 10th year in a row) to the cause.

Tammy Easton
works on multi-colored bowl

Four hundred sounds like a lot of bowls, but in truth it's just a drop in the bucket (Sorry, couldn't resist!). Empty Bowls, which began in 1997, raised $14,000 last year, as hungry guests dined for these good causes. And if you think it's hard choosing a bowl, just wait until you have to decide which soup to put into it. (The good news here is that while you get to keep just one bowl, you may sample as many soups as you like.)

Event details: Empty Bowls takes place on March 1 at the Masonic Center, with servings from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. The cost for "a simple meal of soup, bread and beverage" -- and a hand-made bowl to keep -- is $15 for adults. Kids younger than 10 eat for $5; soup to go is $7. Servers include many local officials and politicians.

Also: Keep in mind that ceramicist Jeff Shawhan will be making bowls for 24 hours straight in the front window of his shop, Elements, at 409 Sixth St., starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12.

Dakotasky Bowen and Jane Fogle with some of Thursday's bowls


  1. Really fun, nice event.

  2. Thank you for your involvement.!!
    It is so great to see the whole community working together to make this a successful event.