Welcome to the Crafts Center, a maker space on campus where students are given the freedom to create whatever their hearts desire, free of charge. Housed in the basement of the infamous Lewis Hall is a space filled with all the arts and crafts supplies you can imagine. To be honest, it is like a mini Michaels, except better.
“The Crafts Center is a completely student-run art studio on campus where everything is free to use [and] free to access during our open hours,” Nicole Verde, co-manager of the Crafts Center, said.
During the week, open hours are Mondays through Thursdays, from 7-11 p.m. On the weekends, it is open Fridays and Sundays, from 1-5 p.m. New this year, there is no capacity limit for the space, so students can show up whenever they are available, according to Verde, a junior.
“Basically, everything you can think of, they have it in the Crafts Center,” Robbie Moser, co-manager of the ceramics studio, said. “The vibes are immaculate; it's a very welcoming space.”
The center is stocked with supplies. It has art materials from canvases and various types of paint to fiber arts like crocheting, embroidering, knitting and sewing. It also has supplies to make jewelry, candles and room decorations. On top of that, it has a fully functioning ceramics studio, metal sculpting, woodworking, printmaking and screen printing, according to Verde.
Lily Sandholm, another co-manager of the Crafts Center, explained that students can come down for a multitude of purposes.
“[It is] a space for people to create projects for classes or just for personal use," Sandholm, a junior, said. "And we have people who come every week ... but we also have people that maybe have one project."
A student who has really found her place in the Crafts Center is Julia Divan, a sophomore who sometimes manages the ceramics studio. Before coming to Tufts, she had never done ceramics, but now she runs a small ceramics business out of the center.
“I would say it's really an approachable space like, if you want to do something, you can pretty much get in there and do it,” Divan said.
Divan now makes personally designed plant pots for other students that are in the shape of their breasts.
“That's mostly what I do in the Crafts Center these days," Divan said. "People either just want a pot, or they will send me photos of their boobs that they want on a pot, and I will make those for them."
Moser, a second-year combined degree student, explained how the ceramics studio can be a great resource to create both functional and abstract ceramics.
“Last year in the Crafts Center, I made a bunch of functional ceramics ... something that you would like to put your hands on and have a utilitarian purpose,” Moser said. “[This semester], I feel like I want to [branch] out more and do more abstract stuff.”
In a similarly utilitarian way, Sandholm made tassels to decorate items in her life, such as bags. Another time, Verde used the center to help them complete their outfit.
“I was just ... opening up the space for a club or an organization to use it, and that day, l rushed out of the house, and I didn’t put on a necklace,” Verde said. “So I just ... sat there and made a necklace that matched my outfit at that moment.”
Now that the guidelines due to the pandemic have changed at Tufts, the Crafts Center is hoping to offer many new programs this year. Volunteers in the center are going to start hosting workshops on different skills.
“For instance, I'm thinking of hosting a jewelry class at some point," Verde said.
They are also hoping to repurpose the green space outside the center for fun events.
“I personally really want to have live music events because I know we used to do that at the Crafts Center, and we have that big lawn outside of it," Verde said. "I just want to set up some amps, some speakers and [invite] students who know how to play instruments."
The Crafts Center also hopes to partner with other Tufts clubs and organizations to help improve its programming. Currently, the managers of the Crafts Center are working with Eco Reps to create a sustainable art program for students.
When asked one word to describe the Crafts Center, members used the words "safe" and "creative." To Sandholm, she said it feels like even more than that — she feels like the center embodies Tufts’ quirkiness.
"[At the center], all the ceiling tiles are painted, there's skeletons hanging from the ceiling," Sandholm said. "It is just very strange ... but it just is part of what makes the space unique and we love it.”