Bursts of metallic crystals blossom up against a subtle background.
Baked into the glaze, the geodesic designs almost look like flowers etched on the pottery. Other pieces give the effect of rolling waves or shimmering water.
In his Nineveh studio, artist Adam Egenolf uses elements such as copper, cobalt and zinc oxide to grow actual crystals grow on the ceramic pieces he makes, creating an appearance that is one of a kind, and different in every piece.
Egenolf’s vivid artwork will be served up along with nearly 800 other ceramic bowls at the annual Soup Bowl. Through an event revolving around eating soups from some of the best restaurants in the area, it’s the art that makes the Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County fundraiser truly original.
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Every one who attends get to pick their own handcrafted bowl to eat out of and take home. The pieces have come from as far away as Virginia, Iowa and Tennessee, with more than 30 artists taking part.
“When you pick one out, it’s really personal. You walk past that table and you see 12 or 14 that you really like before finding the one you want,” said Doug Grant, board member for Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County. “I tell people that it’s really an arts event. You combine it with a really good meal, it gets even better.”
The Soup Bowl is one of the primary fundraisers for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. The event routinely draws about 550 people, and brings in close to $20,000 to help fund the construction of houses for families in need of a home.
Since 2006, Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County has built 17 homes for families who otherwise could not afford one, selling the houses to them at an affordable rate.
But in addition to helping provide another source of funds for the organization, the Soup Bowl has become an important tradition in the community.
“The goodwill that this brings to the community in the name of Habitat is priceless. You’re getting together with family and friends, everyone is having a great time, and you get to take home this keepsake bowl, all in the name of lifting a family up with the possibility of home ownership,” Grant said.
Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County has been doing the Soup Bowl since it was founded. The event was a Leadership Johnson County project, and has become its more visible fundraiser.
The idea originally came from a similar fundraiser in Bloomington. But local organizers made it all their own with a unique twist — artwork that attendees can keep.
Grant has recruited artists from Indiana and around the country to take part in the fundraiser. He’s made connections with potters in Brown County and Broad Ripple, forging relationships at art shows and helping them understand what Habitat for Humanity was doing.
Over more than a decade, he has a roster of artists who reliably contribute to the event.
“They’re really excited to be part of it. If there’s beautiful work out there, you got to great lengths to find it,” Grant said.
Bloomington-based ceramics artist Kristin Busch met Grant years ago at a local art fair. When she learned about the Soup Bowl and its mission, she agreed to contribute. She had been doing a similar event in Bloomington, and liked the chance to support good causes in her own way.
“It’s a way I can donate to causes that I care about, doing more than I could than if I just gave monetarily,” she said.
Being part of the Soup Bowl has also helped expose her work to people who otherwise might never see it.
“I run into a lot of people at art fairs who’ve gotten my work at the Soup Bowls in Bloomington and in Franklin, and they’re excited to go back every year to keep adding to their collection,” Busch said. “It’s neat to get that feedback who have encountered my work like this.”
Naysan McIlhargey has been a professional potter for about 20 years. Based out of Yellow Springs, Ohio, he and his wife formed Miami Valley Pottery in 2004.
He makes wood-fired pottery that is both functional and aesthetically fascinating. After meeting Grant at his studio, McIlhargey has been a regular contributor to the Soup Bowl.
“I get a lot of requests for events like this, especially this time of year. Really, Doug is the only one who understands the potter’s point of view,” McIlhargey said. “He appreciates what the potter is doing. Doug is the reason that Johnson County is able to raise so much money for Habitat.”
This year, Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County organizers anticipate a big year of growth. The group is planning for another Women’s Build, an all-female construction effort that has been wildly popular in the past.
The organization will also continuing to develop its ReStore, a retail outlet that takes salvaged building materials, gently used furniture, appliances and other home items to be resold, helping raise money to support future builds for needy local families.
Traditionally, Habitat for Humanity builds one or two houses each year. But leaders would like see that grow as revenue builds. Fundraisers such as the Soup Bowl can help that happen, Grant said.
“As we get to the point where we’re bringing in a little more income, it’s not really that far away that we could be doing four or five houses in a year,” he said. “Every family that we work with, we’re changing lives. If you can impact twice as many as you can do now, that’s exciting.”
When: 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Scott Hall on the Johnson County Fairgrounds
What: A fundraiser of Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County, bringing some of the areas best restaurants together to serve homemade soup. People can eat as many different soups as they’d like. In addition, attendees get to pick out a handmade ceramic bowl to eat their soup out of.
Cost: Tickets are $25 and include a bowl, all-you-can-eat soup, dessert and a drink.