Empty Bowls galore

Alternative high school taking part in event

Nikolaus Otto, a sophomore at Marquette Alternative High School, works on his ceramic pot on Wednesday as part of the upcoming Empty Bowls fundraiser. The event is set for March 15 at the high school. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — Does soup taste better in a homemade ceramic bowl instead of a store-bought one? Maybe not, but the warm feelings experienced by patrons of the upcoming Empty Bowls fundraiser could go beyond just a full belly.

Students at Marquette Alternative High School helped make ceramic bowls to be sold at the event scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 15 at MAHS.

Art teacher Joy Bender Hadley, along with the Ceramics Collective at Northern Michigan University, helped the students get started on their bowls Wednesday morning at the high school.

Hadley said people buy tickets at three different prices: $8 for K-12 students, $10 for college students and $15 for the public.

The process is simple.

A student starts a ceramic bowl, which will be finished by the Ceramics Collective at Northern Michigan University. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

“They pick out a bowl, and then we have soup that they fill their bowl with,” she said. “We have salad. We have bread, and then we have a cooking class here, and they do the desserts every year.”

The soup, she said, comes from the community and restaurants.

HOTplate, Pottery & Art Studio, located at 153 W. Washington St., Suite C, in downtown Marquette, is holding a “throw-a-thon” for the fundraiser today, with patrons paying $15 to make a bowl for themselves and the event, she said.

“It’s an international grassroots event now,” said Hadley, who noted local fundraiser beneficiaries will be the Harbor House/Women’s Center and Cat Packs, which supplies food to North Star Montessori Academy students.

Hadley said the 300 or so bowls are made from raw clay, which in a way resembled cookie dough when a student rolled it out for a specific bowl design.

The art of bowl-making, though, differs from baking chocolate chip cookies.

Niikah Hatfield, a senior NMU ceramics student and president of the Ceramics Collective, said the group brought the clay on Wednesday to teach students the proper techniques, guiding them along the way.

Creating the bowls, even though they weren’t elaborate urns, required a skill level beyond using a Play-Doh Fun Factory.

“They’re fairly easy,” Hatfield said. “You can get super-complex with them, but they can also be as simple as these simple pinch pots that go really fast.

“But they can add as much decoration to them, or not, as they go.”

When the high schoolers started their creations, the bowls at first resembled things like a pancake or the top shell, or carapace, of a box turtle.

However, the plan was they wouldn’t look that way for long.

After the students finished the basic shapes, collective members were to take them back to NMU and finish them.

“To finish a bowl goes through two firing processes, which we’ll take care of,” Hatfield said. “The glaze-learning curve is super steep, and so it’s hard to bring a ton of newbies into it.”

After the bowls are glazed, they will be brought back to MAHS for the event, she said. Collective members also will paint the bowls.

A few finished bowls might be more ornate than others, as Hatfield pointed out the experience levels of MAHS students vary.

“Many of them have been doing this for years,” Hatfield said.

One of those students was senior Makenna Burnside, who was making a coil bowl.

“I enjoy doing ceramics and working with clay, and I’m also an art student here,” she said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.


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