The Crafts Center welcomed new and returning students to its Open House Tuesday for those interested in signing up for crafts classes.
The event featured an abstract painting exhibition, live music from an Irish musical group and open doors to all its studios, including those for photography, metal and glass working, jewelry making, fiber ware and weaving, wood working and pottery, among others.
The new classes for these studios are extra-curricular and range in price from around $10 to $100 depending on the topic and supplies needed. Classes are cheaper for students, and some are student-exclusive.
Jo Ellen Westmoreland, assistant director and pottery teacher, said she expects pottery to be one of the most popular classes this fall. She also said she is excited to showcase the new classes and workshops, including the bicycle repair facility – all of the classes are at full capacity for the fall.
The classes will teach students how to fix and maintain their bikes, including brake and tire tutorials, and the staff will always be there to answer any questions.
Crafts Center Director George Thomas said the bicycle repair program will most likely expand during this coming year.
"The idea is to let students know we're here for them even it just means putting air in their bike tires," Thomas said.
Additionally, the Stafford Camera Loan Program, named in honor of the mother of Thomas Stafford, will let students rent high-quality digital cameras.
Tom Stafford, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, whose father was a photographer, said he wishes more students knew about the Crafts Center and took advantage of new programs like the camera rentals.
"It's a little off the beaten track," Stafford said. "But it's one of the most extraordinary, comprehensive, very best craft centers in the country. It's incredible."
Brett Boger , a senior in technology education and design, teaches wood turning and also said he hopes more students will discover the center this year and realize its potential.
"There are a lot of people with talents, but they're unaware of the center," Boger said. "You can make a lot of connections here and also relax and make friends."
Thomas said he is very excited for the new year and the opportunity to introduce a new generation of students to what the center has to offer.
"Every year is like having a baby," Thomas said. "It's that special. You just hope it works out for the students if you provide them with what they need."
The center also offers opportunities for engineering and science students. Sabra Bryant, a sophomore in animal science and WISE mentor, said she is interested in showing friends and engineering students the woodworking shop.
Bryant also said she thought the center was under the radar, and students should go out of their way to enjoy what it has to offer.
"I've always known it was here," Bryant said. "But I'm surprised at how big it is and how much they have to offer."
Jacob Dakar, a sophomore in plant biology, teaches glass working, knitting and pottery. He said he loves the center because it fulfilled his need for art – which he chose over a rigorous design curriculum.
"[The Crafts Center] is much more than I could have imagined," Dakar said.
The center is funded through a combination of student fees, donations and revenue from classes, which are all non-credit hour classes. It is approaching its 50th anniversary and underwent major renovations from 2007 to 2009.