Empty Bowls – Reminder and Details

The 2018 Event for Milwaukee Empty Bowls is October 14, from 11:00AM – 2:00PM at the MSOE Kern Center. This is a worthwhile cause that addresses hunger in the greater Milwaukee area.

I am writing this post to remind you to begin working on your bowl(s). If you use a “food safe” finish, many of those take extra time to dry and cure, so you should give your bowls plenty of time to be ready. After you turn them in to the club, they will be wrapped up tight and additional drying and curing will be minimized.

Previously I had indicated that the bowls need be turned in at the September MAWT meeting. Due to the lateness of the event, and the early date of the October MAWT meeting, I will accept bowls at the October meeting – I have confirmed this date with the place where I will be dropping off the bowls.

I have indicated that MAWT will donate 10 bowls for 2018- surely we can exceed this number!!

About the bowls…

The bowl should be roughly the size of a soup bowl – if you don’t know how big that is, use one from your kitchen as a model.

The bowl must hold soup – this is one time where cracks, knot holes, etc do not add to the beauty of the bowl. Empty Bowls has indicated that they dispose of bowls that are deemed unsafe/unusable.

A few observations

  • suggested size – 6 to 8 inches (15-20 CM) in diameter and 3 to 4 inches (7.5-10 CM) deep.
    • FUN FACT: a 8 inch bowl that is 4 inches deep holds over twice the volume of a 6 inch bowl that is 3 inches deep.
  • this may be one time where thinner is not better – don’t be afraid to leave a little thicker wall on your bowl.
  • feel free to sign your bowl(s) – trust me – the pottery bowls will be signed, especially the ones from the professional shops.
  • finish – some suggestions with which I have personal experience are:
    • walnut oil – either Mahoney’s Utility Finish or Doctor’s Woodshop – I believe both are currently available at Woodcraft – these finishes tend to leave a duller finish and require some time to cure. Leaving them in a room with plenty of natural light (which contains ultraviolet light) can shorten the curing time.
    • Howard’s Feed-N-Wax is a finish I have used for “food safe” pieces. It is a mix of beeswax and mineral oil, with a citrus scent. My experience is that it goes on quickly and is usable almost immediately. On softer woods, after some time passes, the finish tends to disappear – I think the mineral oil is simply absorbed by the wood. This finish is available at the big box stores – I have also seen it at Woodcraft.
    • General Finishes Salad Bowl finish – this is a varnish type finish and within several days of application can be buffed to a nice sheen.
    • There are other “Salad Bowl Finishes” available on the shelves at Woodcraft and elsewhere – feel free to reply to this post with your experiences with any of them.
  • (Optional) There is a 20th anniversary logo on the Empty Bowls website – I am thinking of incorporating this into a bowl (I’ll use what passes for pyrography). I challenge you to do something similar in the medium of your choice.

Tony Rozendaal

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