Empty your bowl for the North Whidbey Help House

Rachel Hardin works quickly to create yet another bowl for the Empty Bowls Fundraiser to benefit the Help House. - Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times
Rachel Hardin works quickly to create yet another bowl for the Empty Bowls Fundraiser to benefit the Help House.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

Not one hand wasn’t dripping clay in Frank Jacques’ Pottery X workshop at Oak Harbor High School last week as students focused on forming 400 pounds of clay into 200 bowls for the Empty Bowls Fundraiser.

The OHHS culinary arts and pottery programs are joining to host Empty Bowls, a fundraiser for the North Whidbey Help House. The culinary students will cook a soup dinner with crusty bread to be served in the bowls made by pottery students. For $10, diners can enjoy dinner and also keep their handmade bowl.

Dinner will be served from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 22 in the Student Union Building at the high school.

“I am really impressed with how the students are willing to work with purpose for an idea larger than a grade or obvious tangible reward. The bowls look great, absolutely worth $10,” Jacques said.

The Empty Bowls Project is an international effort to fight hunger. It was created by The Imagine Render Group and is an event any organization can hold to end hunger locally. The bowls guests keep are meant to be reminders of all the empty bowls in the world.

Last year, the pottery students did a similar project by creating bowls to raise more than $600 for the American Red Cross to help Japanese tsunami victims. This year, the bowls are bigger.

Each of the 30 students needed to make seven bowls in approximately five hours of class time to meet the goal. Funding for the materials came from an Oak Harbor Education Foundation grant.

“They’re not used to producing like this, so this is new. What most of them are discovering is that they’re getting better at it,” Jacques said of his students, who are the advanced pottery students.

As students buzzed around the room with wet clay and newly formed bowls, they told Jacques their skills were improving. It used to take students an entire class period to make one bowl but after the first day of hard work, some students were finishing a bowl in seven minutes, Jacques said.

The project gives students a good idea of what it would be like to work in pottery professionally: professionals have to turn out a lot of product quickly, even on days they don’t feel like doing so, Jacques said.

Since there are half as many wheels as there are students in the class, it became a team project. Two students sat at each wheel and while one created a bowl, the other coached and helped out, Jacques said.

“This class right here, this is like an all-star team,” Jacques said.

Senior Tatiana Cumming made seven bowls by the end of the second day of work.

“It’s really cool,” Cumming said of the project. “It gives me a chance to make bowls, as many as possible, and improve my skills with wheel-throwing.”


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