Unable to attend pottery shows this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shuswap potter Bruce Nyeste has reopened his Mud, Sweat and Tears Pottery studio at 3312 Gray Rd. in Blind Bay. (Contributed)

Shuswap potter’s empty bowls help fill food bank

Mud, Sweat and Tears’ Bruce Nyeste expects project to raise $12,000 for Salmon Arm’s Second Harvest

Vahlleri Semeniuk is bowled over by Shuswap potter Bruce Nyeste’s efforts to support the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Back in April of this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic having prompted the cancellation of upcoming pottery shows, Bruce Nyeste of the Shuswap’s Mud, Sweat and Tears Pottery began pouring his creative energy into producing a batch of 100 bowls, each to be sold for a minimum $20 donation at DeMille’s Farm Market, with all of the proceeds going to Second Harvest. From that initial run of Nyeste’s “empty bowl” project, he was able to donate $2,036 to Second Harvest. This success prompted Nyeste to create another 500 bowls, again intended to raise money for the food bank.

Nyeste said Tuesday, July 7, there were maybe 30 bowls remaining at DeMille’s. When they’ve sold, he anticipated returning to Second Harvest with another cheque, this time for about $10,000.

“He has really stepped up, he’s been very driven in this whole process, he’s really committed to it and we’re very grateful,” said Semeniuk, manager of Second Harvest. “Basically, he’s what we would call a true Christian, looking after his fellow man and doing it on a volunteer donation basis.”

For the second batch of 500 bowls, Nyeste submitted an application with Second Harvest to the Shuswap Community Foundation for funding to help cover the cost of materials. The foundation still hasn’t announced its decision on the application, but Nyeste went ahead and made the bowls anyways.

“I had a ton of clay here so I thought I’ll just charge through and make them,” said Nyeste. “It’s all going to work out, no problem at all.”

Nyeste said he was over-the-moon pleased with how well the empty bowl project has gone, grateful to everyone who helped him help the food bank, and for the educational experience the project proved to be.

“I’ve been able to use the bowls for doing glaze trials on, so I’ve managed to develop a whole palette of new glazes,” said Nyeste.

Nyeste is done with the empty bowl project for now, and is focusing his attention on opening his studio to the public – something he said he hasn’t done for a long while due to a hectic pottery show schedule.

“Because we have no shows, we’ve got to eat next winter so we decided to open the studio,” laughed Nyeste.

At Second Harvest, Semeniuk explained the number of people who use the downtown Salmon Arm food bank when it’s open on Wednesdays (4:30 to 6 p.m.) and Fridays (1:30 to 3 p.m.) has gone down as local churches have been providing food for their congregants. However, staff at the food bank remain busy, providing food for both drops ins and through a delivery service for people who may be unable to visit due to the pandemic.

“We are doing about 35 home deliveries on Wednesday and about 10 on Friday, and then we’re servicing all of our walk-in clients on Wednesdays and Fridays,” said Semeniuk, adding the food bank has also been creating family food bags with a focus on easy-to-make meals for kids. To help fill these bags, donations of foods such as Kraft Dinner, tinned pastas and fruit cups are appreciated.

“Things for children at home whose parents are working can cook themselves. We’re trying to provide family bags that have child-friendly foods in them that not only are nutritious but also they can be made by the kids themselves.”

The Mud, Sweat and Tears Pottery studio is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and is located at 3312 Gray Rd., just off Eagle Bay Road in Blind Bay.

READ MORE: Shuswap potter pours creative effort into supporting food bank

READ MORE:Shuswap potter returns to kiln to create 500 bowls for food bank

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Potter Bruce Nyeste of Sorrento’s Mud, Sweat and Tears Stoneware and Porcelain Pottery, donates a cheque for $2,036 to Second Harvest food bank manager Vahlleri Semeniuk. The funds were raised from the sale of 100 bowls Nyeste made and sold through DeMille’s Farm Market for donation. (Contributed)

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