Empty Bowls benefit marries art, fundraising

03/16/2014 4:55 PM

03/16/2014 4:56 PM

For more than a decade, Orbry Chamblee has created delicate works of art that trick the senses.

His bowls look like wicker but are made of clay, a technique he learned during a vacation with his wife to Portugal.

Chamblee, 77, will be one of several artisans featured later this month at the 12th annual “Empty Bowls Fort Worth — An Artful Taste to End Hunger,” which benefits the Tarrant Area Food Bank. He said he has been crafting bowls for the event since it began.

“The first time I participated in Empty Bowls I made around 125 pieces that year,” Chamblee said. “I’ve come close to 100 several times since then; however, this year I will make about 35 pieces.”

Roanoke artist Kash Mistry has also been participating in the fundraiser since Day 1.

She created 20 bowls this year, including a large salad bowl that serves 15 people.

“It’s a great, great feeling to know people paid money for this event and enjoy what they take home,” she said. “They get to eat and yet it also allows the food bank to provide meals to hundreds and thousands of people. I try to get my neighborhood and friends involved in any way they can.”

Chamblee learned the hard way about his craft.

“On our trip we picked up three basket-styled bowls that were very fine, delicate and thinly woven,” Chamblee said of his trip to Portugal. “By the time we got home, two were broken, and so I decided to glue them back together thinking all the while, ‘I’d like to do something like this.’”

He said he soon began taking classes at the Lockheed Martin Recreational Association.

“It was really fun — after a while it really draws you in,” he said. “As time went on I bought a pottery wheel, then a kiln. Now I have just about everything you could possibly want.”

Chamblee has been actively admiring and working with pottery for more than two decades, but he said it’s been in the last six years that he has concentrated on it “heavily.”

“You are always learning, always trying to expand,” Chamblee said. “Anybody that gets into this — their creativeness just grows as time goes on. You’ll find yourself wanting to go into thousand different directions, but you have to remained focused. That’s what I had to do.”

Empty Bowls has grown to be one of Fort Worth’s most popular fundraisers. Besides shopping for handcrafted bowls, visitors can dine on soups and desserts from favorite area restaurants, including the Paris Coffee Shop and Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine.

Guests will also be given the chance to bid on celebrity bowls painted for and signed by, among others, country singer Miranda Lambert, internationally acclaimed pianist Olga Kern and actor Bob Newhart.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the food bank and its 300-plus partner charities in 13 counties.

Staff writer Taylor Prater contributed to this report.

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