Bowls come with a touch of gratitude
Beth Carpenter puts her gratitude into each ceramic bowl she crafts. Carpenter and other local artists gathered Friday and Saturday for the 10th annual Throw-a-thon fundraiser at Lake Superior College. The artists made hundreds of bowls for the E...
Beth Carpenter puts her gratitude into each ceramic bowl she crafts.
Carpenter and other local artists gathered Friday and Saturday for the 10th annual Throw-a-thon fundraiser at Lake Superior College. The artists made hundreds of bowls for the Empty Bowl project, an effort to fight hunger in the Northland.
The 47-year-old Duluth woman knows what it's like to be on the other side of hunger. Using gray, clay-
covered hands, Carpenter humbly described the homelessness she and her three children endured for a few months in 1998.
"It was a failed marriage," Carpenter said quietly as she trimmed a bowl Saturday. "And I had my kids. They went through it as well."
To give back, Carpenter, an art major at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, wielded a metal tool on the base edges of bowls to prepare them for the kilns.
"So many people I don't know gave to my kids," she said. "There are some great people in Duluth."
In the previous nine years, thousands of bowls have fetched an estimated $100,000 in auctions and sales at the annual Empty Bowl fundraiser.
While quality is paramount, the quantity of bowls got artists into a competitive spirit.
"We were sitting there throwing bowls and people were saying, 'I'm at three!' 'I'm at four!' " said Sue Hansen, president of the Lake Superior College Art Club, which hosted the event. "Then someone would say, 'I'm at 17!' ...We were just having a lot of fun and talking."
Jim Chepelnik, another art student at UWS, made about a dozen bowls Friday and came back Saturday to try his hand at three bowls out of one piece of clay.
"It's partly because I enjoy throwing and because I think it's a nice thing to do for people," Chepelnik said.
While some of these crafted bowls will sell for hundreds of dollars apiece, you don't have to open your wallet to contribute, Carpenter said.
"There are so many ways to give back and it doesn't take money," Carpenter said. "You can volunteer and do events like this."
With the help of many local organizations, Carpenter has found a home, enrolled in school and receives disability payments, but she said mental illness still presents a hurdle.
"Clay can be life," Carpenter said. "It allows my soul to communicate. Sometimes I don't have the words, but my art can show my emotion. ... I'm in a better spot now, but I've got a ways to go."