Hidden away in the South Silo, the UC Davis Craft Center offers 10 craft studios and more than a hundred classes for students looking to learn or perfect their crafting skills.
The studios include ceramics, woodworking, glass, flame throwing, jewelry, screen printing, welding, photography, arts and crafts and textiles to either independently practice or take a beginning or intermediate class.
Students need not possess any artistic skills to participate at the center. Jared Tolla, director of the Craft Center, said that artistic skills are not what matter in crafting.
“The best crafters are those who have a desire to learn the craft and are persistent,” he said.
“There’s a difference between crafting and art,” said Morgan Anderson, junior anthropology major and the textiles student manager. “Crafting is a real and functional thing – it’s a step-by-step process more like acquiring a skill.” Anderson added that she does not even consider herself very artsy.
Two of the most popular classes are wheel throwing, in which students learn to make ceramic pottery, and sewing. The craft center also offers more unconventional classes such as guitar building or welding.
The ceramics studio, one of the more popular of the studios, offers wheel throwing, kick wheels (for beginners), electric wheels (for intermediate crafters), figure building classes, sculpting classes, a full glaze setup, a gas kiln and a raku kiln, which resembles a large flaming trashcan.
In addition to the seven weeklong quarter classes, there are also short one-day workshops that last only a few hours.
Anderson said the workshops are often on intricate or obscure subjects, such as glass bead making, that students might not typically think about taking.
She also said that her involvement at the Craft Center has allowed her to learn many obscure crafts that she would not have otherwise pursued.
“My new favorite thing to do in textiles is spinning, such as spinning wool into fiber or yarn. I took a class and just took to it,” she said. “There’s so much exposure to things you’d never thought you’d be interested in.”
Students can volunteer at the Craft Center for five hours a week in exchange for half-off and free classes, depending on the amount of quarters worked. Students can also apply to work as instructors for all the crafts. There are also seven student manager positions for individual studios.
The Craft Center started as a tool lending library in 1960 in the Memorial Union and eventually grew into today’s facility. Students began offering classes out of their houses until it moved to Gunrock Pub’s location, before settling into its current 10,000-square foot facility.
Tolla said that the success of the center is due to the students’ continued interest throughout the years.
“It’s really a testament to the students as a community and their desire to have a craft center,” he said.
The Craft Center is a one of a kind location. There are few similar crafting resources on other college campuses with similarly diverse programs.
“The community is so wonderful at the Craft Center and you meet so many nice people.” Anderson said.
Jared Hein, a junior managerial economics major and ceramics instructor at the Craft Center, said that the community atmosphere and people who participate at the center make it a great place to work.
“It’s a really open community and [has a] bunch of people,” Hein said. “Everyone is willing to help you out – everyone is really passionate about the crafts they do and they want you to be excited about it too.”
KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.