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Craft Center offers unique creative outlet - Technician: Features

Craft Center offers unique creative outlet

Students from all departments can enjoy a variety of classes and workshop free from academic dogma.

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Posted: Thursday, September 2, 2010 12:00 am


It's the first day of Cheryl Weisz' Introduction to the Potter's Wheel class, and 12 students sit behind pottery wheels as she reviews the basics of the wheel and the clay.  

Weisz has taught a pottery class here for the past two years and is one of many instructors on staff at the NC State Crafts Center.

Located in Thompson Hall, the Crafts Center is home to artists of all sorts. Workshops and classes are available to all NCSU students, and most are even open to the general public. 

"There's a lot of shops that are dedicated to an academic department, but we cross all bounds. Our facility provides classes and formal instruction for students of any discipline," says Crafts Center Director George Thomas.

The classes range from pottery to photography. They also change based on student demand.

Classes are not based on academic credits. They are typically six-week programs student can sign up and pay for online. Weizs offers her Introduction to the Potter's Wheel class once a week for a few hours. 

The Crafts Center is a student-based program.

"The Crafts Center is operated and paid for by students," Thomas said. 

Kaden Wilson, senior in industrial design, used his talents to create an original woodworking class that allows students to build longboards. Wilson began his freshman year with an interest in building longboards, and with access to the woodworking shop at the Crafts Center, he began making and selling them to friends. Wilson taught a longboard building class over the summer, and his next one will start in October. As of Thursday night there were still four spots left in the upcoming class.

"I've mentioned it to friends and it's exciting to see that the word is getting spread and more are signing up already," Wilson said.

Katy Walls, senior in communication media, teaches two photography classes at the Crafts Center. 

"I've had a strong background in photography and throughout high school that was taken away, so by the time I got to college I had to find an outlet," Walls said. "I just kept coming back."

Among Walls' photography classes, there is a pinhole workshop and a black-and-white darkroom class. She's so far had a wide array of students, often including the general public.

"In class, they get to explore the campus," Walls said. "They go out on the first night and take pictures of the Bell Tower and other key landmarks."

Aside from the creative student-inspired classrooms, the Crafts Center also has a studio space that is open to anyone.

"The main thing is a student can be mad at the world and they can have had a very hard day, but they come in and work with clay or wood or other materials and their frustration can be worked out," Thomas said.

Instructors say the Craft Center's ability to mod to the needs of its students makes it one of the most evolved places on campus, keeping it anything but traditional.

"There is a change in the culture," Thomas said. "One of our students is teaching guitar lessons, so we purchased three guitars."

Kathryn Cunningham, graduate student in fish and wildlife, is one of the 12 students in Weisz' pottery class. Cunningham is no newby to the Crafts Center; she took a photography class in 2006 during her undergraduate study. Cunningham's favorite thing about the Crafts Center is, "it's convenient and they've got lots of different stuff!"

The Crafts Center is a place with something for everyone. 

"If a student ever has a need to make something, always think of the Crafts Center first. It's just as if you had to find a book you would go to the library," said Thomas.