Philanthropic pottery

PHS Soup-er Bowl continues to grow

By Robert Galbreath,
Posted 11/7/23

Each meticulously crafted bowl is destined for auction at PHS’s third annual Soup-er Bowl fundraising event hosted by the National Art Honor Society at the Pinedale Library Lovatt Room on Nov. 18 from 5-8 p.m.

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Philanthropic pottery

PHS Soup-er Bowl continues to grow


PINEDALE – At least two dozen students remained in Pinedale High School (PHS) art teacher Katie Facklam’s studio after the final bell rang on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Symmetrical foundations for bowls emerged from nondescript lumps of clay on each pottery wheel. On the other side of the room, young folks carefully coated kiln-heated bowls with layers of luminous glaze or carved out patterns in a process called “slip trailing.”

Each meticulously crafted bowl is destined for auction at PHS’s third annual Soup-er Bowl fundraising event hosted by the National Art Honor Society at the Pinedale Library Lovatt Room on Nov. 18 from 5-8 p.m.

All proceeds from the auctions go to fulfilling family Christmas wish lists through the Pinedale Angel Wreath program.

For three years, Facklam’s pupils have planned, organized and hosted what is now a major community holiday event.

“Every year, I make the call for the Soup-er Bowl and ask the students whether they want to put the event on,” said Facklam. “I always get a resounding ‘Yes!’ with no questions asked. It’s really quite extraordinary – the kids come to the studio in the mornings before school or afternoons after school to work on the project.”

A growing success

The Soup-er Bowl quickly expanded beyond its original venues and prompted the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) to look for new digs in 2023.

“We previously hosted the Soup-er Bowl at Rendezvous Pointe, but we outgrew the space because so many people showed up,” said NAHS Vice President and senior Ana Mika. “So we had to rent out the Lovatt Room at the library.”

A group of seniors in PHS’s Class of 2022 – Alena Mika, Katie LaBuda, Cora Murphy and Allison Gregory – played a significant role in planning the first Soup-er Bowl to help a family who was struggling financially around the holidays, explained Ana Mika.

The NAHS took the idea and ran with it.

“We started talking in ceramics class about what the students could do with the skills they possessed to help,” Facklam added. “We just happened to be going over our bowl unit at the time. I told them that the Soup-er Bowl concept is kind of a thing in ceramics.”

Students developed a solid public relations campaign.

“Trying to get the word out is tough,” said NAHS member and senior Josh Gosar. “We set up times to record an ad on the radio and then put flyers out to get the whole community here to support us and help those in need.”

Mika and senior Trista Covill provided the voice talent for the radio ad. Senior Brody Hamby, also in the NAHS, tracked the organization’s financials and expenditures for advertising.

NAHS members and sophomores Alicia Dexter and Wren Hamilton designed promotional posters. Dexter and Hamilton used an online graphic platform called Canva to develop professional posters.

“Canva is a free online website where you can design posters, flyers, presentations – anything,” Hamilton explained. “You can create your own designs – Canva gives you options to make text boxes, add colors and backgrounds. You can also insert photos that you like.”

Organizing the art auction gave each NAHS participant confidence and new skills, said NAHS President and senior Stephanie Mata.

“Honestly, if you told me last year that I would be (NAHS) president and organizing the Soup-er Bowl, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Mata continued. “I’m a quiet, reserved person. Taking on this huge leadership role is a big step for me. I’m grateful to have this position because it’s a new experience and I am learning a lot about leadership.”

From clay to bowl

The process to build a bowl begins at the pottery wheel where artists “get the hang of centering and coning the clay,” said Gosar.

“I feel like that’s the hardest part,” Gosar added. “A lot of time goes into it.”

No two clays are alike, and the material comes in a variety of categories, from “A” to “ABF,” said senior Bill Harber.

“The big difference is how thick or strong they are to throw,” Harber explained.

Coaxing a bowl from formless wet clay on a pottery wheel involves plenty of trial and error.

“When you’re throwing a bowl, if you mess up, you pretty much have to start over,” said senior Graham Harber.

Mata recalled taking ceramics for the first time as a freshman.

“It took me three months to create a single bowl at first,” Mata said.

Mastering ceramics is a work in progress, Hamilton emphasized.

“When you’re an artist, you need determination to make clay into a piece and not stop going,” Hamilton added. “It takes practice and skill to create a bowl or an art design that matters to you.”

Once an artist is satisfied with their results on the wheel, the bowl is ready to be fired in the kiln, said Gosar. If an artist wants to apply carvings or shapes onto the bowl, they typically perform those tasks before the clay is heated into what Gosar called “bisque form.”

After the bowl is properly fired, the final glazing can begin.

“Different glazes can do different things, like cracking, which gives the bowl a crazy design,” said Gosar.

The finished bowls are a kaleidoscope of personal touches – individual statements rendered in clay.

Mata designed some of her bowls to reflect her Latina “heritage and background.”

“I sketched out traditional Mexican flowers and a lot of traditional Mexican art,” Mata said. “I tried to incorporate those themes into my ceramic pieces.” 

Other bowls represent feelings: “frustration, joy, happiness – things that are part of my life,” said Mata.

Inspiration for bowl designs came from Ms. Facklam, online ceramic tutorials and fellow artists, said Bill and Graham Harber.

“It’s kind of cool to see what classmates make and then maybe put a twist on that,” added Graham Harber.

At the end of the day, the Soup-er Bowl is not only about art, but generosity, said NAHS Secretary and sophomore Ellie Tolson.

“We can take Christmas and gifts and decorations for granted because we have had them our whole lives,” Tolson stated. “The Angel Wreaths program is a good way to give back to someone else who might not have had the same privileges that you had when you were growing up.”

Facklam thanked Office Outlet for donating supplies for posters and Heart and Soul for volunteering to make a palate of soups for the Soup-er Bowl. She also gave a shoutout to PHS Principal Brian Brisko.

“Mr. Brisko always supports this endeavor,” Facklam said. “No words are big enough to thank him.”