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Pottery Making Hobby Helps Fill Empty Bowls

| 1/15/2013 11:39:00 AM

As he neared retirement, Brent Farler of Bartonville, Texas, decided that throwing pottery would be his new avocation. To support that effort, his wife, Janie, presented him with a kiln at Christmas.

The couple had barely begun learning the art of pottery when a friend told them about the Empty Bowls program, an international grassroots effort to raise money and awareness in the fight against hunger. The friend also announced that she’d volunteered them to make pottery bowls for an Empty Bowls fundraising dinner in Fredericksburg, Texas. Supporters would donate $20 and receive a keepsake bowl filled with soup. All money raised would go to Head Start, an education program designed to aid low-income children.

“I said, ‘We’re just beginners. They don’t want our bowls,’” Janie protested. “But the Empty Bowls committee said they’d take whatever we could donate.”

The premature promise of bowls put the fledgling potters to work. They started throwing clay on their potter’s wheel, making bowls as quickly as possible and learning their new hobby as they went along. “It was really helpful to us because we were trying to improve,” said Janie.  “I don’t know how many bowls I’ve made—hundreds. And I can’t tell you how many I threw away. It is a learned skill. It’s not something you can just sit down and do.”

Janie farler on the pottery wheel  Janie Farler with completed pottery bowl
(Left to right) Janie Farler throws a pot in her home studio. This pre-fired pot demonstrates Janie’s improved skills since over her earliest efforts. Photos By Pat Pape.

With the aid of students in a pottery class they took simultaneously, the Farlers donated more than 60 bowls to the Fredericksburg Empty Bowls fundraiser and 20 more for another Empty Bowls benefit in Denton, Texas, to help a local soup kitchen. “And they were happy to get them,” Janie said.

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