Filling a need
Empty Bowls event raises $5700 for Wayfarer’s House
— Carol Berth studied the array of ceramic bowls covering tables inside Art Space on Main in downtown Elkton for quite a while Friday night before one of those handcrafted containers caught her eye.
“All of the bowls are beautiful,” qualified Berth, an Elkton-area resident, before explaining, “But I just like the color of this one. It’s just a real mellow color. There’s just something about it that I really like.”
Berth purchased that standout ceramic bowl, a blueish number that sort of matched the shirt she was wearing.
Evidently, the ceramic bowls created by Art Space
on Main potterers are a hot item.
That explains why almost all of the 504 handcrafted pottery bowls displayed Friday night during the 7th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser were purchased for $10 to $30 – generating $5,700 for the Wayfarer’s House, a shelter for women and children in Elkton, according to Pat Marks, executive director of Meeting Ground, which oversees the Wayfarer’s House, the Mary Randall Center and the emergency rotating shelter.
For those who missed their chance to buy ceramic bowls on Friday, the ones that were not purchased will remain on sale at Art Space on Main at 138 W. Main Street in Elkton until Friday, she noted.
The place was packed throughout most of the fourhour-long event. Every person who bought a bowl or bowls could help himself or herself to a soup meal that included buttered bread and desserts. They could slurp the soup from their new bowls or use supplied paper bowls.
Art Space on Main members ladled the soups, which were donated by Elkton restaurants Pat’s Select, Olive Garden, Chili’s Bar & Grill, Spork, Ruby Tuesday and Triton Bar & Grill. The list of soups included crab bisque and chicken enchilada.
Selecting a bowl or bowls for purchase was a fun challenge, given the sheer number of choices.
“We both have taken ceramics (classes) before. I can check out to see if the bowl is centered,” said Julie Petty of North East, who shopped with her friend, Elkton-area Batel.
For Batel and Petty, however, as well as most of the people who turned out Friday, it ultimately came down to aesthetics when choosing a bowl to buy.
“Mainly, I focus on what it looks like,” Petty said.
Batel, Petty and others also were mindful of the cause – raising money for the Wayfarer’s House – when purchasing a bowl or, in the case of Philadelphia resident Mark Lowe, simply making a contribution.
“I have more of a collection than an accumulation of ceramics, and I probably shouldn’t add to it because I have so many. But I’m looking, drooling and coveting right now. I’m definitely tempted,” Lowe said, as he walked slowly around the tables and, at times, picked up a bowl to examine it more closely. “I’m not buying anything, but I did make a donation because it is a very worthy cause.”
Carole Huber, an Art Space on Main member, said she and her fellow artists worked together as they crafted the ceramic bowls during the months resident Kati leading up to the event.
That’s why it was common for an artist to mold a bowl on the pottery wheel, for example, only to have someone else later usher it through the next phase or phases of production, such as waxing the bottom of the bowl and putting it in the “bisque” fire and the “glaze” fire, she explained.
“The community takes ownership of each and every bowl,” Huber commented, noting that she, as a beginner, can create 10 to 12 bowls a day while a seasoned potterer can produce approximately 20 in that time.
Along those lines, the bottom of each bowl bears only Art Space on Main initials or some similar reference, according to Marks.
“Normally, an artist would sign his or her work. But these are signed Art Space on Main because everyone works together,” she said.
Handcrafted ceramic bowls for sale cover tables inside Art Space on Main in Elkton during Friday’s fundraiser.
Shirley DuPell, an Art Space on Main member, smiles while taking a break from ladling soup during the fundraiser.
Pat Marks, executive director of Meeting Ground, holds newspaper-wrapped ceramic bowls that she purchased as Christmas gifts for relatives.
Each ceramic bowl handcrafted for the fundraiser bears an Art Space on Main identification, instead of the individual artist’s signature.
Elkton-area resident Reese LePore, 4, savors a spoonful of soup.
Art Space on Main members stand ready to ladle free soup to people who bought a ceramic bowl or bowls.