Bowls for bucks

If you go

NASHUA – Katie Rudolph and Kimberly Karish stood elbow to elbow inside the pottery room at the north campus of Nashua High School and dunked empty bowls into buckets of earth-toned liquid.

Rudolph is a 17-year-old junior at Nashua High. Karish is a 32-year-old doctoral student at Harvard who graduated from Nashua High in 1989.

The two women, who are separated by half a generation, were bound by a common purpose.

Those bare, lackluster bowls that Rudolph and Karish dipped into pale liquid glaze will soon become colorful works of art filled with hot soup at a fund-raiser for the Nashua Soup Kit-chen and Shelter.

The annual event, held this year on Wednesday, Feb. 11, is hosted by the National Art Honor Society at the high school.

But it has become a community-wide undertaking with students like Rudolph and local residents like Karish teaming up to make sure there are enough bowls to hold all of the donated soup.

Those who buy a $12 ticket to the event will get to take home one of those handmade, hand-dipped bowls. They will have the choice of more than 30 soups to eat.

Earlier this week, Rudolph and Karish dipped the last of the 750 bowls into buckets of glaze with names like Jerrie’s Ocean, Blue-Green Celadon, Yellow Matte and Tomato Red.

As the sun began to set for the day, a song As the sun began to set for the day, a song by Fiona Apple played on the small radio in the window-filled room. That song came out last year, when Rudolph was a sophomore.

Earlier in the afternoon, a song by ’Til Tuesday filled the art room with warm sounds. That song was released back in 1985, when Karish was still going to school in Nashua.

In a nearby room, members of the Art Honor Society were painting 6-foot-tall trees that will be pasted on the corridor walls at St. Joseph Hospital.

By the time the night was over, Rudolph, Karish and Kelley McCafferty, a sophomore from Plymouth State University, with some intermittent help from other high school students, finished dipping an entire table of bowls.

The bowls were set on a rack to dry and await firing in the school’s new gas kiln.

“It’s fun, because you can kind of go crazy (with the glaze),” said Rudolph, wearing a Shaw’s supermarket smock to keep the glaze off her clothes. “You never really know what it’s going to look like until it’s done.”

Rudolph taught herself, and her mother, how to make the clay bowls on a pottery wheel, a process called throwing. As Rudolph learned on the wheel, Karish gave her a few pointers and she got better.

Karish, who is currently living in Nashua, crafted her own assortment of bowls at the high school for the fund-raiser.

“It’s been fun to be able to come back and play,” said Karish, her blond hair held up in a bun with paintbrushes. “It’s a good way to get away from your thesis. When you’re sitting down at the wheel, you don’t think of anything else. Plus it’s a really good cause.”

Ellen Mack is another member of the community helping with the event. Mack is in charge of the silent auction. She was at the school putting the finishing touches on a decanter that she will use to serve drinks and then auction off.

“I have more teachers and more members of the community doing this,” said art teacher Robin Peringer, who serves as the coordinator of the event that has been held annually since 1997.

This year, Peringer is having staggered entry times so people don’t have to wait in line as long. And she has had students and volunteers make nearly 100 extra bowls so they don’t run out.

“This is a good way to connect to the public and help out people who are in need,” said Amanda Rochette, the vice president of the Art Honor Society. “It’s nice, because we get to express ourselves in a way we’re most comfortable. Art is something we’re passionate about.”

The first clay bowl Rochette ever made will be one of the 750 bowls people will have to choose from the night of the fund-raiser. The bowl took her three hours to make, and Karish helped her finish it.

“I’m OK with it,” she said. “It’s going to a good cause.”

Jonathan Van Fleet can be reached at 594-6465 or