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Pine-Richland students filling 'Empty Bowls' to benefit Lighthouse Foundation

Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

At two rows of pottery wheels, ceramics students work steadily to shape wet lumps of clay into smooth, round bowls.

Pine-Richland sophomore Kiel Hillock said the process takes about 30 minutes.

“After you rise it, you want to work it so that you can get a nice even texture on the outside so it looks nice,” he said.

The bowls will be used for an annual event called Empty Bowls, held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 7 at Pine-Richland High School. Participants can purchase the handmade bowls for $10 and fill them with unlimited homemade soups and bread.

Children under age 5 eat for free. All proceeds benefit the Lighthouse Foundation in Valencia.

The foundation was founded in 1985 by a group of Bakerstown community residents in response to growing needs among local families and communities facing rising employment and emergency needs.

This is the sixth year for Empty Bowls at Pine-Richland, said high school art teacher Mary Anne Andreassi. Students from various classes and groups in the high school join forces to make the event a success.

Andreassi's ceramics students make the bowls, family and consumer science students in Heidi Davis's class make batches of soup and bake bread, and the Interact Club co-sponsors the event.

Parents also make soups for the event. Last year there were about 16 different kinds of soup to try, Andreassi said.

Empty Bowls is an event put on by high schools and colleges across the nation, but it started in the 1990s with an art teacher in Michigan, Andreassi said.

“They thought, why not create art that can be used as a fundraiser and let people participate in the art process, and then have something to take home with them,” she said.

Andreassi said she brought up the idea to her ceramics students six years ago, and they ran with it. They raised $3,000 the first year, and the event has raised a combined $10,000 over the past five years.

The student enjoy putting their work to good use. They can make as many thrown pottery bowls as they want for the event, Andreassi said. They usually have between 100 to 150 bowls ready for the event, and they often take orders for more.

After students “throw” the bowls on the pottery wheels, they are dried to a state called “leather-hard dryness,” an intermediate stage where the bowl is still pliable. Students trim a foot, or base, onto the bottom of the bowl to give it a finished look.

Then they dry the bowls in the kiln, apply glaze for color and strength and fire them in the kiln again.

The entire process of throwing pottery from start to finish takes about five days, Andreassi said.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or




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