The earthy scent of wet clay and the whirring sound of the pottery wheel filled the art room at Thomas Worthington High School last week, as senior Harriet Osei Twerefour's steady hands created a ceramic bowl for the annual Empty Bowls project.
"I love working with the clay, because it does its own thing," she said. "It is relaxing and I love it, but sometimes you have to start all over."
She and other students in Alan Spencer's ceramics classes have created more than 100 bowls since last semester, throwing the bowls on pottery wheels or using clay molds.
Stacks of finished bowls, glazed in cool blues, greens and other colors, waited on the art room shelves to be given away at the high school's Empty Bowls dinner from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 31 at 300 W. Dublin-Granville Road.
Osei Twerefour said she enjoyed creating the bowls.
"It is a way to give back to the community and do something I love to do," she said.
For a $10 donation, diners receive a simple soup supper of vegetarian chili, meat chili or bacon and bean soup, along with bread and butter and water. They also get to take home a handcrafted bowl.
All proceeds go to the Worthington Resource Pantry.
Jennifer Fralic, executive director of the Worthington Resource Pantry, said people also could purchase the soup supper for a $5 donation and not receive a bowl.
She said anyone who wants to purchase a bowl but is unable to attend the dinner may contact Spencer at 614-450-6233.
Spencer said teacher Ruth Norris and students in the Food for Fitness classes make the chili and soup.
"The meal is kept simple to remind us that too many people go hungry or have very little to eat," Spencer said. "So we serve a simple meal for people to enjoy. My students also get a chance to learn a basic skill and use that skill to benefit someone else in the community."
Now an international grassroots effort, the Empty Bowls project was started in 1990 in a high school ceramics class in Michigan. Guests were invited to a simple meal of soup and bread for a donation to a charity that fights hunger. Diners were asked to keep the ceramic bowl to remind them of all the empty bowls in the world, Spencer said. The effort eventually spread to many other schools and art groups.
Spencer has been coordinating the annual dinner at Thomas for the past 15 years.
"The proceeds usually total about $750 to $1,000 each year," he said.
Spencer said the evening could include "dinner and a show," since it is opening night of the high school's musical production of "Oliver! The Musical" in the Hottenroth Auditorium.
"People can come for the dinner and then go see the musical production, which begins at 8 p.m.," he said.
Tickets are $15 and may be reserved at twhstheatre.org.
Spencer said all of his beginning ceramics students who master basic pottery-throwing skills are encouraged to make bowls for the annual dinner.
"We make 100 to 150 bowls and have most of the bowls finished by the end of the first semester," he said. "The bowls are then glazed the following semester."
Osei Twerefour said she had no idea she would fall in love with ceramics.
"I did not try any ceramics classes until last semester, but I really love it," she said. "You see a beautiful bowl somewhere and you could buy that bowl, but it feels even better when you know that you made it."
Osei Twerefour said she wants to major in biology in college and then go on to medical school to become a doctor.
"I hope to pursue ceramics too, though, at least on the side, somehow, as a hobby," she said.