Here’s How You Can Snag a One-of-a-Kind Bowl at Empty Bowl Hawai‘i on April 12

Volunteers from Hawai‘i Potters’ Guild are making thousands of bowls for charity.
Empty Bowls Hawai‘i 2019
Attendees take home one-of-a-kind bowls. 


It was just after Thanksgiving when my weekly email from Hawai‘i Potters’ Guild, where I’m a member, started mentioning this month’s Empty Bowl 2019 event. There would be a throw-a-thon for people to start throwing (the act of sculpting on a pottery wheel) bowls to prepare for the biennial charity event.


That day, potters gathered in the guild’s studio on Bingham Street to create more than 400 unique bowls for Empty Bowl. The dining event is the biggest fundraiser for the nonprofit Aloha Harvest, which collects unused food for the hungry from hotels, restaurants and other businesses.


“The bowl-making ramps up six to eight months before the event. We definitely need that long for the guild to be able to throw, glaze and fire the influx of bowls,” says Tricia Beaman, member and publicity chair of the guild. This year, the goal is 3,000 handmade bowls, one for each Empty Bowl guest to take home after the night of small bites. “[That’s] really our sweet spot to account for ticket sales and to make this huge undertaking doable for Hawai‘i’s ceramics community,” she says.


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It’s a team effort at the volunteer-run guild, with multiple people chipping in to create each bowl.


“The process of all of us coming together for group throw-a-thons and glazing demos and workdays to make our 3,000 bowls has been pretty fun,” Beaman says, and it gives newer students and members a chance to learn from some of the guild’s more seasoned artists.


Other local organizations and high school students join in, and a few dozen “challenge potters,” including Beaman, vow to make at least 50 bowls each, as well as a signature piece that will be auctioned off at the event. The purpose of the fundraiser, Beaman says, is to remind people of those in our community going hungry.


The Empty Bowls Project started in Michigan in the 1990s.


Get Souped Up on April 12


The first Empty Bowl in Hawai‘i took place in 2009. “We started out making less than 1,000 [bowls] and one year [we] made 5,000,” Beaman says.


In previous years, guests would pick one bowl (which you don’t use at the event but take home) and receive one cup of soup made and donated by local chefs. New in 2019, people will receive three tickets, each good for a 3-ounce soup or pūpū. (Additional food tickets can be purchased at the event.)


Some of the soups this year include chicken tortilla from Café Kaila, vegan tomato lemongrass bisque from Koko Head Café, Kaua‘i shrimp bisque from MW Restaurant, chilled spiced carrot soup from Pai Honolulu and African chicken peanut soup from Tiki’s Grill & Bar. There will also be live music from local Hawaiian music group Coyne Street and a silent auction.


April 12, 6 p.m., Pōmaika‘i Ballrooms at Dole Cannery, $40–$85,


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Empty Bowls Hawai‘i 2019


By The Numbers

Bowls this year: 


Expected attendees: 


Restaurants participating: 


Amount of clay used: 

More than 2 tons

Potters making at least 50 bowls:


Organizations participating: 


Pounds of food donated by Aloha Harvest in the past 20 years: 


Total bowls made for Empty Bowl since 2009: 



Read more stories by Katrina Valcourt