GAMBIER — Frost has hardly nipped the pumpkin and fall is barely a week old, but the Christmas spirit is already in the air at Kenyon College. Kenyon opened its Gaskin Avenue Crafts Center to the community Saturday afternoon for its 6th Annual Empty Bowls event to benefit Food for the Hungry.
A lot goes into crafting a pottery bowl, and in fairness it must be said that some folks caught on quicker than others and arrived at prettier results. But the beauty about even the less fanciful creations is that they will be auctioned off at Kenyon on Nov. 9 to support the 31st Annual Food for the Hungry drive.Saturday’s event attracted dozens of students and Kenyon neighbors to the former home of poet John Crowe Ransom, and every inch of work space was put to use crafting hand-built, slab-rolled and spun pottery bowls. Kenyon senior Max Elder, a philosophy major from Massachusetts, is the center’s manager, and said he first became interested in pottery because of the Empty Bowls project.“I sort of fell into the place during my first year here,” Elder says. “I had never been involved in crafts, but I really enjoyed the experience and stayed with it.”The event was inspired by Empty Bowls International, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to grassroots efforts to alleviate hunger, and has raised $18,000 in the past five years. Elder said that this year’s goal is to exceed $4,000 at November’s auction.“Empty Bowls is a huge movement, and Food for the Hungry is a wonderful cause,” Elder said. “It’s really beautiful to see all of these people involved.”Kenyon freshman Emily Moore of Cincinnati, like many of the people on hand, was trying her hand at pottery for the first time. “I’ve never done this before,” she said, “so I just hope it turns out OK.”Many of the bowls made on Saturday were “impressed” with designs before being shaped onto molds to dry. Kenyon pottery teacher Robin Nordmoe was in constant motion, giving instruction to rookies and advanced tips to those accustomed to working with clay. She explained that after several days of drying each piece will be trimmed and etched with the name of the bowl’s creator by her students, and then bisque-fired in a kiln at 1800 degrees. The bowls will then be ready for glazing before a second firing at 2100 degrees. Like Emily Moore, local residents Joshua Davis and Holly McCutchen were making their first foray into pottery. Davis was carefully impressing his bowl using a small cylindrical roller with a raised design, while McCutchen stamped a pattern into hers before molding. Asked if she planned to attend the auction and soup dinner to see her bowl sold, McCutchen responded, “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, I just hope my bowl makes it through.”Since 1982, Food for the Hungry has supported the Salvation Army and Interchurch Social Services in Knox County. It all began with a few thousand dollars in donations, but over the years the drive has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2011, the goal of $150,000 and 50 truckloads of food was easily eclipsed as total donations exceeded $180,500 plus 57 truckloads of food.Interchurch operates food pantries in Mount Vernon, Danville, Centerburg and Fredericktown, while the Salvation Army is based in Mount Vernon with satellite offices in Centerburg and Fredericktown. Food for the Hungry is the largest single source of staples for their pantries, which rely on the support of scores of businesses and hundreds of individuals from the community. Food for the Hungry is sponsored by partners Mount Vernon Nazarene University and WNZR radio, the Mount Vernon News, Nelson and Nelson CPAs, Time Warner Cable, and WMVO and Eagle 93.7 radio.
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