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Empty Bowl volunteer Bill Kolbe (center) helps out (from left) Jana Fischer, Darcy Chaouch and Sue Daggett during the bowl making process of this year’s Empty Bowl fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 8, in one of the art rooms at New Richmond High School.

Bowl making event draws crowd for Empty Bowl fundraiser

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life New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Creating bowls out of clay was a popular pastime for many people on Saturday, Feb. 8, in one of the New Richmond High School art rooms. This year’s Empty Bowl fundraiser enticed more than 55 people to spend a cold Saturday at the high school creating bowls to help raise money.

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“The first year I did this, we had 25 people show up for the bowl making portion and it has just grown bigger and bigger since then,” said Mark Lusardi, who teaches art in Minneapolis and is also a clay glaze chemist. “There have been a lot of returners from the year before and they are all just enjoying the chance to make something of their own and then see how it turns out.”

On final count, Lusardi said there were 205 bowls, trays and other pieces made by members of the community who stopped in to participate in the event. According to Lusardi, about one-third of the people who come to the events to make bowls end up buying their creations in advance of the Empty Bowl fundraising event because they want to keep their mas­terpieces.

The second stage of the bowl making process takes place on March 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the bowls will be ready to be glazed by anyone who wishes to come back and help.

“People can come in and help with the glazing of all the bowls we make, even if they didn’t come in to make a bowl on the first day,” Lusardi said.

The bowls will then go on sale at the seventh annual Empty Bowls event, which will be held Thursday, April 10, at the Community Commons from 5-7 p.m. Anyone from the community can come buy a bowl to help raise money for the food shelf. Prices on the bowls will vary depending on the size and amount of work put into each item. Prices can be any­where from $15-$20 for a tur­tle shaped bowl to $25 for a larger bowl. The most extrav­agant and well made bowls will be added to the silent auction that will be held throughout the day.

“Last year’s event brought in more than $17,000, which is a really good amount,” Lusardi said. “It is a really good return on your invest­ment since every dollar that is raised equals $7 in food for the food shelf.”

Since the event started up four years ago, the number of people who have pre-regis­tered to attend the event has grown, which Lusardi loves to see. He expected around 75 people to show up this year with around 20 to 25 walk-ins to come in and create a bowl or two in addition to the 55 who were signed up before Saturday.

“This is the most people we’ve ever had in this room since we started doing this event,” Lusardi said. “It is so great to see so many people come out to help with a wor­thy cause and just have fun.”

Along with Lusardi, three other professional potters from around the area, includ­ing Dane Hodges, Bill Kolbe and Nora Leigh Walker, made it out to the event to help Lusardi and the other Empty Bowl volunteers with making bowls.

“This is very much so a community building event where people can get to know each other and learn more about their community as a whole,” Lusardi said. “There is a lady here who is handi­capped and has been coming to this event for the last three years because she loves it so much. She usually makes around five or six bowls every time and just has a great time doing it.”

Work to set up the event started well before Saturday morning, when Lusardi’s son, Eric, and Connie Evans spent several hours a night the week leading up to the event load­ing and unloading materials, equipment and preparing the art room.

“We couldn’t get an event like this off without their help and its very much appreciat­ed,” Lusardi said. “We went back on Sunday to load the bowls in the kiln and made another 25 pieces to add to the work that was done on Saturday. During the next month a few friends and I will continue to add more bowls to the collection to bring up the total and to offer some unique pieces that will be sold in the silent auction.”

When asked why he keeps coming back to help with the Empty Bowl events every year, Lusardi is quick to men­tion all the fun that is had throughout the process as well as the new people he gets to meet.

“People ask me why I do this, and I can find no other way where I can get so much back on the time I put into something like this,” Lusardi said. “The people you meet, the fun, and how much grati­tude everyone has for doing something like this. It would be amazing if we could chal­lenge businesses to set up an evening time to come in and make some pots for this event which would really bring it up a notch and show that New Richmond is really a strong community.”

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