Tom Durkin
Special to The Union

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February 12, 2013
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Potters craft empty bowls to support Hospitality House

It takes many loving, skilled hands to create — and donate — the hundreds of unique, artistic soup bowls that guests take home every year from the Hospitality House Empty Bowl community meal.

This year, the nutritious soup-and-bread benefit for local homeless people will be served up March 2 at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley.

That means dozens of area potters are already throwing their best effort into what some of them jokingly call “bowling.”

Of course, each volunteer potter has a different answer as to why he or she does it:

“This is such an amazing community. It’s a way to give back,” said Yvon Dockter, a professional potter in Nevada City. At last count, she had 81 bowls in various stages of progress on every flat space in her living room.

“When somebody chooses a special bowl at the Empty Bowl event, they take home an everyday reminder that some people here in Nevada County are hungry and homeless,” said Chic Lotz, owner of the Potter’s Wheel in Grass Valley. She has been a year-one contributor to the Empty Bowl benefit, and she averages 60 bowls a year with another 40 from her students.

Dockter invites artist friends over to decorate the bowls she has thrown. She makes and fires the bowls, but the painted designs on the bowls are often from artists whose primary expertise lies in other media.

“I just get a lot of joy out of doing this,” said Patrick McCauley of Nevada City.

“It’s a little tiny thing I can do for an organization that does so much,” said Laura Morton of Grass Valley.

“There’s a lot of talk about awareness. This is not just talk. This is action! This is hopeful. People are tired of being helpless,” said Katherine Walden of Nevada City.

That said, donations to Hospitality House are $20 to get a one-of-a-kind bowl. However, children under 12 are free.

Advance tickets are available at Briar Patch Co-op Community Market and The Book Seller in Grass Valley and the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce. Tickets will also be for sale at the door.

For information, please contact event coordinator Pinky Zalkin at 530-205-9363, or check out

Tom Durkin is a staff monitor at Hospitality House and a freelance writer/photographer. His contact is,

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The Union Updated Feb 12, 2013 03:36AM Published Feb 12, 2013 05:35PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.