“I was in desperate need of more art for my apartment, and this workshop filled that desire perfectly.”
Down into the twisting tunnels of the University Center basement, you’ll see a curious door, and behind it, a bright room that smells vaguely of clay. Welcome to the Clark Craft Studio.
This contemplative space, a second home to many creatives on campus, is a resource for any member of the Clark community. From knitting to ceramics, drawing to jewelry-making, the studio is a place to refine or learn skills, or simply enjoy a respite from academic and work routines.
Despite a banner hanging prominently in the UC advertising the studio, this special space remains a mystery to some. Organizers of the Craft Studio’s workshop series hope to change that by engaging more students in arts and crafts on campus.
I am one of those students.
Walking inside for a recent printmaking workshop, I admired the skeins of yarn on the walls and the clay-working station. The air was warm, and a light buzz of street noise wafted through the windows.
Printmaking invites an artist to carve or impress a series of shapes, an image, or a drawing into a material, whether that is plexiglass, wood, a sheet of linoleum, foam, or plastic, or something else entirely. The design, whether concrete or abstract, is then impressed into a sheet of paper to create a print.
As the workshop began, I was offered several types of prints to learn. The studio currently has supplies for mono and foam printing and linocut. I settled on foam printing, the simplest option, and with the help of the proctor and a needle tool, I got to work.
Tips and tricks from the proctor helped me sketch and score a drawing of a little house on legs — inspired by Slavic folklore — perfect to hang right above my bed. I was in desperate need of more art for my apartment, and this workshop filled that desire perfectly.
When it was time to select ink, I surveyed a sea of colors, passing over oranges, yellows, and blues to settle on forest green. I coated my plate (this is what they call the foam I carved on) in ink with a brayer (a roller) before pressing it onto paper with a baren (the round tool used to compress the paper into your plate). I peeled up the paper, revealing a perfect print of the design from my plate. I hadn’t practiced printmaking since high school, so this was a lovely change of speed for a Wednesday night.
For seasoned artists and novices alike, this one door in the University Center leads not only into a studio, but it opens a whole world of creative possibilities.
The workshop series includes sign-making at 2 p.m. and wheel-working at 7 p.m. on Mondays; printmaking at 6 p.m. and button making at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays; wheel-working at 4 p.m. and drawing at 7 p.m. on Thursdays; jewelry-making at 1 p.m. and sewing at 2 p.m. on Saturdays; and knitting at 4 p.m. and ceramic hand building at 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Nearly everything in the craft studio is free for everyone to use (except for clay, which requires a small fee of $5 per pound) and the staff guide you through the entirety of each lesson. The studio is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except Tuesday, when it closes at 6 p.m.