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Empty Bowls taking shape as Potters Guild plans for October event; donations welcome


The Potters Guild of Las Cruces (PGLC) is moving ahead with plans for the 27th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser, which benefits El Caldito Soup Kitchen. Last year’s event raised more than $27,000 for El Caldito, and PGLC organizers are hoping for an even bigger and more successful event this year.

This year’s Empty Bowls is scheduled Friday, Oct. 16, at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 225 W. Griggs Ave.

Here’s a Q&A with PGLC Empty Bowls Chair Erica Cordero about the event and her work as a potter.

Bulletin: The plan is for PGLC to go ahead with Empty Bowls on Oct. 16, 2020, correct? 

Cordero: Of course, we can’t see that far into the future, but we are still planning on going ahead with Empty Bowls 2020. With the uncertainty of the future, we may need to change certain aspects of the event to still raise funds for El Caldito and keep all those attending and those volunteering safe.

Bulletin: Do you need donations to buy the 1,000 or so pounds of clay you need to make the bowls for this year’s Empty Bowls? If so, what’s the best way for people to make donations?

Cordero: There is a need for donations for purchasing the needed amount of clay for Empty Bowls. The Potters’ Guild is (a nonprofit) and donations may be tax exempt. Those interested in making a donation may contact me at ericanicole.cordero@gmail.com. Each bowl is about 1.5 pounds. We are fortunate enough to have New Mexico Clay in Albuquerque donate a portion of the clay needed. There are also some potters who work out of their home studios and will sometimes use their personal clay to make bowls and donate them to the Empty Bowls event. I have also received clay donations from guild members who are no longer working with clay.

Bulletin: Do you have to be a member of PGLC to make bowls for Empty Bowls?

Cordero: No. Anyone interested in donating bowls for the event may do so by contacting me at ericanicole.cordero@gmail.com and I would be happy to pick up handmade bowls individuals wish to donate.

Bulletin: How did you get into making pottery? Is there a particular type of bowl or other object you like to make the most?

Cordero: I first started pottery in 2008. I signed up for a ceramic class at Doña Ana Community College with Glenn Schwaiger. I was working on my requirements for the nursing program and wanted a class I wouldn’t need to study for. I ended up loving ceramics. I’ve been working with clay for 12 years. I eventually joined PGLC and helped with Empty Bowls. The bowl shape I like to make is a half sphere shape. I like a wide-rimmed bowl. I feel this shape is the bowl I would want to eat soup or posole out of. I have most recently been working on sculpture pieces. Last year, I made and entered a large sea turtle sculpture in PGLC show “From the Ground Up.” I’ve really enjoyed the sculpture aspect of ceramics and have plans to create more animals in clay.

Bulletin: You work at home, so does that mean you have your own kiln?

Cordero: I have a home studio that I work in. This consists of a wheel, a kiln and a slab roller, along with other items that I use to create different products. I also painted an old refrigerator and turned it into a wet closet to keep my pieces workable instead of drying out with our hot and dry summers. I have worked at collecting the items I have in my home studio over several years.

Bulletin: How can someone join PGLC?

Cordero: Any person who considers themselves a potter, ceramic artist, ceramicist or ceramic enthusiast is eligible for membership. Join at www.pottersguildlc.org.

Bulletin: What else?

Cordero: I have left nursing behind and want to incorporate art with the health field. I now have my bachelor’s in social work. I am working on my master’s in social work and a master’s in art therapy. Working closely with El Caldito and helping with Empty Bowls is just one way I can give back to my community while helping those in need.


  • Empty Bowls began in 1992. PGLC sold 600 bowls and raised $3,500 for El Caldito in 1993. In 2015, more than $22,000 was raised, and the figure passed $23,000 in 2016. It reached $25,000 in 2018 and $27,000 last year. Find them on Facebook at Empty Bowls of Las Cruces and on Instagram at @emptybowlslc.
  • The Potters Guild of Las Cruces was founded in 1981. Visit www.pottersguildlc.org.
  • El Caldito Soup Kitchen was founded in 1984. It began by offering a mid-day meal one day a week. It was relocated to the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope campus in 1998. In early 2002, services were expanded to offering a hot mid-day meal Monday through Friday. The program was further enhanced in December 2002 to provide a carry-out sack lunch on Saturday. Then in early 2010, a hot Sunday lunch was added. El Caldito serves an average of 250 lunches each day. Visit www.elcalditolc.org.