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          When necessity is the mother of invention...I designed The Giving Bowl

Lorraine Oerth's Giving Bowl - How it came to be

Someone had done something nice for me.  I wanted to say thank you by giving her something that I made. Being a potter and artist - I had hundreds of objects on the shelf.  Which to chose?

But the gift needed to be small and frugal.  Nothing I had was just right. . 

I remembered something I had seen a long time ago - 

A documentary about an old woman potter. Japan. She made tiny bowls that she shaped on her elbow.  Temple offerings.

She patted a walnut-sized piece of clay flat in her hands.  Then smacked it on her elbow, and it shaped like a dish.  Like magic. How very cool!

  • I thought --- "That's it - I'll make elbow bowls.  Mine will have bright colors & lots of texture. Handmade, no molds, each different.  AND I'll fire uplifting words into the glaze.  Words like love, dream, and serenity.   
  • AND I'll hand print my designs on a cotton drawstring bag so it will be a nice little finished gift.

And so the Giving Bowl was born...

Sadly, the Japanese potters who created the traditional bowl are relics of the past.  Apparently no one is left.  The tradition died.

My lesson:  you never know where great ideas will come from.  Be open to brainstorms.  Experiment.

You never know when something you learned in the past will be the source of a genius moment.  In my case, it was something so small and seemingly unimpressive that gave me the brainstorm to create my Giving Bowls.  I am a lucky person.  Those old women potters will never know the gift they gave me.  Another gift I get --- is the soul warming stories from our customers about how much our Giving Bowls and Giving Hearts meant to them.

It's all about sharing.  People want to reach out to one another.  People want to brighten other people's days.  That's what makes a Giving Bowl a Giving Bowl.

Thank you for letting me share the story of my inspiration. With gratitude, Lorraine


This picture of folk potter Sons of Soil in Karachi Pakistan reminded me of the massive production of the Japanese women potters I told you about.  These potters are desperately poor, and I feel sad for them.  But I admire their skill and the sheer beauty of their handwork. It's really humbling.