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Crafting a Community

Crafting a CommunityTufts' Crafts Center continues to foster both creativity and community.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.09.09] Amidst the whirring of pottery wheels, the twinkle of strewn glitter and the chomping of paper between scissors, there is the buzz of laughter, learning and community swirling through the air at Tufts' Crafts Center.

Originating in the basement of the Crafts House, a vegan/vegetarian co-operative living community on Professors Row, the Center now resides in the basement of Lewis Hall and is funded as a student-run organization through the TCU Senate.

"The principle of the center is to work and create art in an environment with other people," says Crafts Center co-manager Helen Corless (A'10). "It is a great place to come and de-stress, and you can learn a lot of really useful skills for life."

Open seven days a week, the center is made up of four rooms. A main room contains several bins of raw materials, a large drafting table and various pieces of crafting equipment including soldering irons, a sewing machine and a number of looms. There is also a woodworking room that holds two kilns, a pottery room and a silkscreening room.

According to co-manager Karen Wickert (E'11), visitors of the center vary, from freshmen to seniors discovering the center for the first time to a number of student groups and classes. Over the past year, Wickert says the number of visitors to the center has increased from an average high of 20 people per night to 30.

"Aside from learning new skills, the center is really just a great place to come and meet new people outside of the circles you already hang out in," Wickert says.

The "Crafties," as residents of the Crafts House are known, staff and stock the center with materials and equipment for everything from button-making to ceramics to stained glass. Given the center's mission of creating a community around crafting, Corless says visitors must use raw materials in the Center and leave them there for others to enjoy as well.

Freshman Maximus Thaler (E'13) heard about the Crafts Center when he was applying to Tufts and made a point of visiting it shortly after his arrival on campus.

"The Craft Center has been integral to all the people I know and have met," he says. "Every one of them is somehow linked to the Crafts House or the Center."

"Students who maybe have never taken art before or never had access to these materials can now access it for free," says Jenna Reece (A'10), one of the current Crafties. "It's really quite extraordinary."

Story by Kaitlin Provencher, Web Communication.
Photography by Joanie Tobin, University Photography.
Slideshow production by Joanie Tobin and Kaitlin Provencher.

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