Carolyn Young of Earth to Art Pottery can be seen sitting in front of her potter's wheel this time of year.
Young, a retired quality engineer from Lockheed Martin who lives in Parker County, has fired up her kiln and gotten out her carving tools, all with one purpose -- to help feed the hungry -- and just in time too.
On March 28, Empty Bowls Fort Worth -- An Artful Taste to End Hunger, the Tarrant Area Food Bank's most popular fundraiser, is back for its 11-year anniversary.
"I love it," Young said. "For every dollar [Tarrant Area Food Bank] can provide five meals. ... It's an amazing cause and it has grown so much."
A potter for more than 20 years, she said the event has grown so much that organizers have had to change venues to accommodate more people attending.
"For the last couple of years we've planned for 2,000 bowls for the $45 admission fee," she said. "That gets you in the door and lets you select from a huge table of bowls -- handmade."
She said the bowls could be made of glass, wood or ceramic.
The admission also includes a bid in a live auction of "Celebrity Bowls," each painted to symbolize the famous personality who signed it. The celebrities include Chef Rick Bayless of the PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time; health guru Dr. Oz; Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell; singer/songwriter Amy Grant; country music star Vince Gill; and the multiple Grammy-winning vocal quartet Manhattan Transfer.
Young said she first got interested in clay while she was at Lockheed. Her travels took her all over the Middle East, she said.
"It was very stressful so I was looking for something to help me relieve tension," she said. "I had a friend who had just taken a couple of pottery lessons and she encouraged me to take some lessons." The first time she put her hands on clay, she said, she was hooked.
"It gives me chills to talk about it even now," Young said. She then took some classes at Tarrant County College and later spent a great deal of time at the Lockheed Martin Recreational Association honing her craft.
She said she herself will donate around 30 glazed and hand-carved bowls for the event -- for all levels.
"Empty Bowls Fort Worth is possible only through the generosity and talents of Carolyn Young and hundreds of other artists in the Fort Worth region who donate their handcrafted or hand-painted bowls," said Andrea Helms, the Tarrant Area Food Bank communications director. "I have been on the staff of Tarrant Area Food Bank during all of the past 10 Empty Bowls events, and each year I am amazed at the quantity and quality of bowls donated by professional, student and hobby artists."
She said they cannot be thanked enough for their dedication.
"With the loyal support of these artists and the restaurants that donate tastings of soups and desserts, Empty Bowls has become Tarrant Area Food Bank's most successful fundraising event," she added.
Unlike past years, Empty Bowls is on a Thursday rather than a Friday. It will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 28 in Texas Hall inside the Amon G. Carter Exhibitions Hall at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, 3401 W. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth.
Advance tickets sales only for admission are $45 for a general admission and $125 for a VIP ticket allowing entrance to the event a half-hour early along with corporate sponsors. The deadline for buying tickets -- online, by mail, by phone or in person -- is 4 p.m. March 25.
This year's Empty Bowls Fort Worth, presented by Tom Thumb, is organized by a volunteer steering committee led by Fort Worth business owners Lisa and Andrew Fuld. The organizers will present not only handcrafted bowls by Texas artists and tastings of soups and desserts from 30-plus top Fort Worth restaurants, but also a surprise noontime, high-energy activity celebrating food and song. In addition, raffles will be held for a new dragon-red, street-legal Vespa LX 150 scooter, two tickets to a home game of the Dallas Cowboys or 30 days in a Fiat 500.
People can taste soups and desserts from 30-plus Fort Worth-area high-end and casual dining restaurants and caterers including Aventino's Italian Restaurant, La Familia, Reata, Michaels Cuisine, McKinley's Fine Bakery and Cafe, Next Wood Fired Bistro & Vino Bar, Paris Coffee Shop, Riscky's Bar-B-Q, Shinjuku Station Japanese Dining, Tim Love Catering, Truluck's Seafood, Vidalias Southern Cuisine and Wild Mushroom Steak House.
Empty Bowls Fort Worth helps the food bank and its 300 partner charities feed impoverished and low-income families and senior citizens in Tarrant and 12 other counties including Parker County.
That's emergency groceries each month for 45,000 households and more than 340,000 meals served at senior centers, after-school programs, soup kitchens and emergency shelters. Forty percent of the people served are children.