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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

UC Davis Craft Center allows students to take a step back from their day-to-day life to express their creativity

Choose from dozens of unique, skill-based art classes to take without the pressure of a letter grade 


By REBEKA ZELJKO — features@theaggie.org 


For many students, the UC Davis Craft Center serves as a break from their hectic academic schedules. According to its website, the Craft Center offers upwards of 50 different classes per quarter, including ceramics, glass blowing, 3D printing, weaving and welding. 

Meredith McClintock, a fourth-year communication major and studio manager for the glass and screen printing studios, said that the Craft Center attracts students of all majors who are looking for a creative outlet. 

“One of the interesting things is we don’t have that many art majors taking the classes,” McClintock said. “Almost everyone is a science or humanities major because this is their outlet. I know like four aerospace engineers who regularly take classes here.”

Andrew Hui, a fourth-year science and technology studies major said he enjoys going to the Craft Center in his free time. 

“I think there’s not a lot of chances to express my artistic or creative side in my classes,” Hui said. “So even though [Craft Center] classes aren’t for credit, it’s a really chill way to spend your time and meet new people.”

The relaxation is a big selling point for students who are accustomed to a fast pace and demanding academic environment.

“It’s completely pressure-free,” McClintock said. “We will give you an orientation and ascertain your skill level to ensure you have a fun and safe experience, but there’s no grade attached to this.”

According to the Campus Recreation website, these classes cost between $14 to $250, but students can utilize the Well-Being Fee Waiver to offset these costs. Students can apply for the waiver using a Google Form, and it can be applied to one class or a studio pass to access the Craft Center for free or at a discounted rate. 

Harrison Dietzman, a graduate student studying creative writing, teaches a black-and-white photography class at the Craft Center.

“I’d taught writing and literature classes but never taught an applied hands-on class before,” Dietzman said. “It’s been fun to teach something more skill-based and less abstract.”

The diverse array of majors in his classes is also something Dietzman noted.

“Most of my students are not in the fine arts academically,” Dietzman said. “There’s a lot of engineers and animal life science, which is just the composition of this university. They usually express that they have a hobby that feels active and productive and gets them out of their normal classes.”

Dietzman said that the close-knit community at the Craft Center is what solidified his involvement as a volunteer instructor. 

“We cap the photo classes at a really small class size, so it’s a very hands-on instruction experience,” Dietzman said. “It feels less alienating than what people might be used to going to UC Davis. In school, the class sizes are [often] going to be more than 25 people, but here, they’re much smaller.”

The relaxed and creative nature of the classes offered by the Craft Center makes it an incredibly popular recreation space for students. McClintock recommends that people plan ahead of time to secure a spot in a class that they are interested in taking. 

“Our upcoming registration is open on the very first day of instruction, so April 3,” McClintock said. “We open at 12:30 p.m. in person, but people will usually start to line up earlier, depending on the popularity of the class.”

It’s not uncommon for popular classes to fill up quickly, so Hui suggests getting there as early as possible. 

“I think most of the classes fill up super fast,” Hui said. “The day of the sign up, the line was around the Silo, so if you want a ceramics class, you have to line up in the morning.”

But if you aren’t able to get the class you want, there are other ways for you to get involved in a creative pastime. 

“Even if I don’t get a class, you can buy studio passes,” Hui said. “You go through a small orientation or training, and then you can get access to the studio and make things in your own free time.”

Hui said he recommends you have a game plan going into the sign-up process.

“Pick multiple classes you are interested in just in case,” Hui said. “They all seem really fun, and I think they will all help with your well-being and develop your skills in some way.”

Dietzman said that even if you don’t get your first-choice class, every offered course can be beneficial in some way.

“There’s such a broad range of programs at the Craft Center,” Dietzman said. “They have metal working and glass blowing and different classes, but they’re all making an object so you have something to keep, take home and be proud of.”


Written by: Rebeka Zeljko — features@theaggie.org