Joann Herndon (left) and Ann Vreeland help to get ready for Souper Bowl 2016. In the background, Barney Halaschak at the kiln.

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The Fourth Annual Souper Bowl Marco 2016 is around the corner, and volunteers are busy firing up the ceramic soup bowls they anticipate will sell out at the event.

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, February 6, 2016, from 11 AM – 1 PM at Mackle Park. Expectations are that it will surpass last year’s sell-out. The chamber’s Donna Niemczyk tells us that organizers “plan on having 1,200 bowls this year” for the anticipated crowd.

Now that the soup bowls have been painted, firing parties are taking place.

On Friday October 16 volunteers gathered at the Marco Island Center for the Arts to help with the firing process. The seven volunteers glazed 150 bowls, which is the maximum that can fit in the center’s electric kiln at one time.

Barney Halaschak, a pottery and clay wheel


Barney Halaschak getting the bowls ready for firing in the kiln.

instructor at the Center for the Arts, explained the steps in the process.

  • Painted bowls are unpacked from boxes and the bottom wiped off.
  • The bottom of the bowl is then dipped in wax to prevent sticking in the kiln.
  • The bowls are dipped in clear glaze (which looks orange/pink until fired) to give it a shiny finish.
  • The bowls are fired in the kiln at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 hours.
  • The bowls must cool down for 10-12 hours before being handled.

The room was bustling with activity, trays of bowls in various stages being moved from station to station until ending up at the kiln with Barney. Clay Guild members Ann Vreeland and Joann Herndon pitched in by unpacking and wiping down the bowls. Ann says she is “always willing to help.” Lana Withers, a 2014 Leadership Marco graduate was busy dipping


From left: Ann Vreeland and Joann Herndon unpack and wipe bowls.

the bottom of the bowls in wax. Donna was dipping the bowls in glaze, her prior experience kept the process moving at a steady pace.

But you don’t need experience to pitch in at a firing party. This was Keller Williams’ Maureen Binkowski’s first time preparing pottery for the kiln. She saw the call for volunteers online and came to help, joined by her twin sister, Marta Isaac. The ladies had previously volunteered for Souper Bowl by painting bowls at Mackle Park. When we ask Marta about the firing party she reminds us it’s not all work, telling us “it’s fun – I love it” and “now I am hooked!”

Every year the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce organizes the Souper Bowl, a fundraising event that benefits the Leadership Marco scholarship fund. Last year alone, over $20,000 was raised and


Leadership graduate andvolunteer Lana Witherswaxes the bottom of bowls.

awarded to Marco Island high school students.

At the February 6 event guests will select hand-painted ceramic bowls at the door. The Mackle Park basketball courts will be set up like a food festival – with soup as the star. Guests will move from table to table, sampling a wide variety of soups prepared by local chefs. The event has become an island favorite, not just with foodies, but with entire families, all ages, residents and visitors alike.

If you want to help the volunteers get ready for Souper Bowl and fire bowls, join them at the Marco Island Center for the Arts every Friday at 3:30 PM until November 20. The Center for the Arts is located at 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island. No prior experience with ceramics is necessary.

For questions about Souper Bowl, contact Donna Niemczyk at the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce at 239-394-7549.

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