On the surface this is a story about just a bowl – called Mahalo – a simple bowl, but in actuality, it is really a story about recycling, gratitude, memories, and family! Lofty concepts for just a bowl … but as you’ll see, it meets every dream, plus some!

So to share … many many Saturdays ago, lots of people were hard at the fun of creating all manner of bowls out of clay. Pounds of glorified mud were manipulated and transformed into decorative containers for soup, bread, paperclips, or maybe even a large serving of pasta for some family gathered round a table.

One creator saw the scraps of textured clay discarded from other bowls and couldn’t bear to see them wasted. Gathering the mismatched bits together, she shoved, scored, mashed, and persuaded the clay to do her will. And, as is so often the case when, in our determination, we defy convention and break rules, new opportunities are created with unexpected results – often unfortunate, but sometimes wonderful – which is just what happened this time.

Pushing the bits of textured clay into a large plastic bowl, the clay slumped into its future shape. The creator artist filled the concave surface with textured pieces, hoping they would stay attached. Then, determined to add feet, and needing to do so while the clay was still moist, smocks were stuffed inside the bowl’s cavity to hold up the sides as it was inverted onto a board. More textured clay chunks were requisitioned as feet and attached blindly, hoping they were balanced and that their weight would not sink into the belly of the smock filled bowl.

The creator had remembered a childhood home, far away on the beautiful isles of Hawaii, from before it was even a state within our union! Then, as now, the land was full of flowers, textures – a veritable tapestry of shapes and colors. The bowl, which survived the first cauldron of kiln heat, so reminiscent of the local volcanoes, emerged strong and even level! The textures of the mismatched recycled slabs evoke the rich landscape of the faraway people and diverse environment.

Now, it’s another Saturday … back in the barn and no longer working with clay but with color – and the bowl was chosen by another’s talented hand and eye focused on its curves and unique textures. This artist also had memories of the same warm islands of many, many years ago, when her children were small and rambunctious, when she would watch them play under the swaying palms, where they were cool and safe under the dappled textures, brilliant colors, and fragrant flowers.

Carefully choosing her color palette, the textures were highlighted, colorfully detailed into a rich tapestry of teeming flora. Orange, deep coral, teal, gold and turquoise are just a few of the tones weaving their way across the detailed surface. The concave interior of the bowl undulates with watery depths blinking in the sun, transparent over glistening sand.

The clay manipulator and the color glazer – both representing two generations of SSFS alumni parents (‘78 and ‘14), joined once again to continue Letting Their Lives Speak. They are calling the bowl “Mahalo”, a powerful and beautiful Hawaiian word that reflects a value of living in thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude. It represents the opposite of indifference and apathy – as it is the perspective of being thankful for what you have, by using your gifts in the best possible way. They made the bowl with love, and gave the bowl away with even more love, just to help others.

The bowl – connecting dreams, memories, and traditions – stands proud, awaiting the opportunity to be filled with delicious contents to be shared at a new family’s gathering, ready to create more memories.

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