Visual Arts: Empty Bowl Necklaces

Grade level: K‐12
Duration: Three+ 45‐minute class periods
Media Type: clay, glaze
Subject Integration: Science, Social Studies
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see below)
Objectives: Students will create an Empty Bowl necklace to raise money for the local food shelf.

Students will demonstrate an understanding of creating a 3‐Dimensional piece of art work from clay. Students will also demonstrate proper building techniques, and proper use of tools.
(website for help with writing rubrics)


4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met or work is not attempted or very poorly done

Materials and Procedure:

  • white or red earthenware clay shallow water bowls, water clay tools
  • plastic trays / cart / shelving for drying clay bowls
  • several bright colors of Duncan food safe glazes
  • paper, pencils


  • greenware
  • leather hard
  • bone dry
  • bisque
  • earthenware
  • firing‐‐‐temperatures
  • glazing
  • clay tools
  • pottery
  • vessels
  • kiln
  • wedging

Day 1:
1. Give brief introduction of Duluth Art Institute’s Empty Bowl project.

2. Discussion: What do you know about the Empty Bowl project? Have you ever attended an Empty Bowl event? Have you ever created a bowl for Empty Bowl? What do you think about creating artwork to raise money for a food shelf?

Show the following PlayList videos about Duluth artist, Dave Lynas, Grand Marais, MN Empty Bowl and Liz James, ceramic artist:

Dave Lynas - Ceramic Artist (4:38)
Grand Marais Empty Bowl (7:49)
Liz James - Ceramic Artist (2:05)

3. Discuss PlayList videos. “What did you see?” “Which artists left an impression on you most? Why?”

Explain to students how they will each be making a small (1.5”) clay bowl to be made into a pendant. Pinch pot technique will be used. Students can make two bowls: one to donate, and one to keep. Often times, students will want to make multiple bowls to donate to charity. Give students scratch paper and pencil to sketch drawings of bowl ideas. Discuss shape of bowls, possible texture, envisioning glaze options for post‐firing, etc.

Day 2:
Review Day 1. Discuss. Show pinch pot technique to students. Explain proper tool use. Explain importance of putting names on the back of finished clay bowls. Demonstrate putting two small holes, on edge of bowl, with toothpick, so that necklace will hang nicely on string for pendant. Pass out clay, tools, water in shallow bowls, sketch plans, etc. Students create clay pendants.
Allow clay bowls to dry for 3‐4 days. Fire in kiln.

Day 3:
Review day 2. Briefly discuss process from previous class. Demonstrate glazing technique. Discuss the importance of not mixing glazes, and not allowing glaze to touch the bottom of the bowl. If glaze is put on the bottom of the bowl, it may stick to the kiln shelf.

Students glaze their clay bowls. Encourage multiple colors and designs on surface of bowls. Allow bowls to dry for 1 hour or more. Fire in kiln for second time.

Day 4:
Review Day 3. Spend time putting cords / strings into holes of necklaces. Allow students to choose one bowl to keep, and one to donate to Empty Bowl.

Discussion Questions:
“What did you learn about the Empty Bowl project that you did not before?” “What do you think about creating artwork to raise money for charity?” “What is the process of creating an object from clay?” “What are the different stages of clay?” “What is glaze?” “How does glaze enable people to eat safely from finished clay pieces, such as a bowl or mug?”



  • Great Soup Empty Bowls: Recipes from the Empty Bowls Fundraiser [Paperback] by Jamie Kennedy
  • Soup and Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time [Paperback] by Martha Bayne

Follow‐up activities:
Students may take some empty bowl necklaces and sell them on their own to raise additional monies for charity. Some students may want to take them to their church, sell them to extended family members, scouts, etc.

National Standards for Visual Arts:

Content Standard #1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes. Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses. Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories. Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Content Standard #2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas. Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses. Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Content Standard #3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Achievement Standard:
Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art. Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Content Standard #4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Achievement Standard:
Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures. Students identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places. Students demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art.

Content Standard #5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Achievement Standard:
Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art.
Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks. Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks.

Content Standard #6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Achievement Standard:
Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines. Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment