VERO BEACH — Laid out on tables, shelves and nearly every available flat surface are nearly 600 handcrafted stoneware bowls waiting to be trimmed, glazed and fired before they can put out for sale in the 18th annual Soup Bowl to benefit the Samaritan Center.
This year, artisans from around Indian River County, and in particularly from Vero Beach, plan to fire 1,000 bowls to be sold at $10 a piece. Soup, itself, will sell for $5 a serving.
“It’s a symbolic $5 bowl of soup,” organizer Shotsi Cain Lajoie said.
She and others came up with the idea for the Soup Bowl 18 years ago as a fund-raiser for the Samaritan Center, the county’s then-only shelter for the homeless.
Numerous potters from the area gathered late last week to throw clay on their wheels, turning the material into variously-shaped bowls.
“There isn’t one type,” Lajoie said.
Glenda Taylor, one of many potters who has volunteered time to throw bowls, helped found the ceramics program at the then-Center for the Arts (now the Vero Beach Museum of Art) with Ginny Stocker.
“It’s my favorite fund-raiser,” Taylor said of the Soup Bowl for the Samaritan Center. “It’s a modest effort for a tremendous cause.”
So far, Taylor has crafted just a couple dozen bowls for the fund-raiser.
“I’m saving my energy to make a big soup tureen,” she said, explaining that tureens are large serving dishes complete with a ladle and lid – all of which she plans to sculpt from clay.
Maria Sparsis is another potter who is helping craft the bowls that will be sold.
“The goal was 100” bowls, Sparsis said while cleaning her potter’s wheel. At 105 bowls in just four days, she’s done.
“It’s a very meditative process,” she said of how she can work on so many bowls in so little time. However, “the body occasionally gives out on you.”
The annual Soup Bowl fund-raiser won’t be held until early November, but with 1,000 bowls to sculpt, glaze and fire, organizers knew they needed to get started early.
This is the fourth year that potters have gathered at the Vero Beach Museum of Art to throw the bowls, according to Lajoie. Before that, potters would use their own studios and call in to Lajoie to tell her how many bowls they would make.
“The Vero Beach Museum of Art has been a perfect partner,” Lajoie said of providing the space and equipment needed.
Thirty public locations will be selling the handcrafted bowls for $10 on Thursday Nov. 4. The sites have not yet been finalized. Soup will be provided by more than 60 area restaurants for $5 and will be served at 13 places of worship.
The Samaritan Center is a program of Catholic Charities and is a United Way agency.
Anyone interested in hosting a private gathering benefiting the Samaritan Center may send contributions to the Samaritan Center at 3650 41st Street, Vero Beach, FL 32967.
For more information about the Soup Bowl or the Samaritan Center, call Shotsi Cain Lajoie at (772) 453-9049.