Potters Randy and Jeannine Summers began creating ceramic pieces many years ago in their studio in Chimayo, New Mexico, and selling their wares at local shops and fairs in the northern part of the state.
When Randy retired from Los Alamos Lab in 2008, The Summers moved to Las Cruces and immediately joined the Potters’ Guild of Las Cruces (PGLC).
“Our first Empty Bowls event was that year,” Randy said. “We are proud that every subsequent year the event has gotten bigger and better, and has earned more money for El Caldito,” the soup kitchen that is part of Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.
“In normal years, guild potters gather for a marathon event of bowl making, usually completing about 250 bowls in a weekend,” Randy said. “With the pandemic, we have to produce bowls by working alone at home.” Randy said he and Jeannine likely will make about 50 bowls for this year’s event.
Each bowl “is a simple, but complex shape,” Randy said. “It can be utilitarian and still decorative in terms of color and embellishment. We try to create a mix of styles, colors and sizes.”
“Our garage is our studio, and it is equipped with a roller, a wheel and a kiln, so we are self-contained,” he said. “However, we miss the camaraderie of working with our fellow potters, as it was always fun sharing our stories and pizza.
“Empty Bowls has been a great way to help the community, raising money by doing what we love best, creating pottery,” Randy said.
“Yes! Empty Bowls is still happening,” said Potters Guild of Las Cruces (PGLC) evert chair Erica Cordero.
Empty Bowls 2020 will be held 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 225 W. Griggs Ave.
The event benefits El Caldito Soup Kitchen, which is located on the campus of Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.
“The need to feed the hungry has not changed, and we are committed to continuing to support our community,” Cordero said.
The event “will be held outside and will follow health regulations,” Cordero said, including mandatory facemasks, social distancing and limited attendees at any one time.
Advance ticket sales are encouraged, Cordero said. Tickets will be sold at El Caldito Soup Kitchen, 999 W. Amador Ave., and at Save Mart, 495 N. Valley Drive, as well as from PGLC members. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Tickets are $20.
Soup will not be sold this year because PGLC does not want to add to the burden on local restaurants that are already dealing with closures and limitations, she said. However, bowls will still be for sale and there will be an online silent auction, provided by Mesilla Valley Estates.
The auction will be on Mesilla Valley Estates’ website from midnight Oct. 14-midnight Oct. 21. Visit www.facebook.com/emptybowlslc and @emptybowlslc on Instagram for information updates.
PGLC was founded in 1981, and Empty Bowls began in Las Cruces 11 years later. PGLC sold 600 bowls and raised $3,500 for El Caldito in 1993. In 2015, more than $22,000 was raised, and the figure passed $23,000 in 2016. It reached $25,000 in 2018 and $27,000 in 2019.
El Caldito Soup Kitchen was founded in 1984. It began by offering a mid-day meal one day a week. It was relocated to the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope campus in 1998. In early 2002, services were expanded to offering a hot mid-day meal Monday through Friday. The program was further enhanced in December 2002 to provide a carry-out sack lunch on Saturday. Then in early 2010, a hot Sunday lunch was added. El Caldito serves an average of 250 people at every lunch.