Campus crafts clubs ignite creativity

Students seeking a new art form or perhaps simply a new outlet to distract them from the stress of their studies will find several options this fall. Three new clubs – the Ceramics Club, Fiber Club and Quilting Club – offer both novices and more experienced artists the chance to learn skills, hone their craft and even potentially display their handiwork.

The Ceramics Club was started again at Williams last year, although this will be its first year as a fully functional organization. The club is headed by Olivia Meyerson ’16 and Diana Chen ’16. It was originally started by a mixture of students who, according to Meyerson, “really loved ceramics” and wanted to run a studio.

So far, the club is off to an auspicious start – over 100 people signed up to take part and over 30 attended the first meeting. Among these members, some have a plentitude of experience, while others are beginners. According to Meyerson, however, this variety in the club is part of what “makes it fun.” The club hopes to give all its members the chance to throw on a wheel and to do several firings. This will allow the members to come away from the workshops with finished pottery.

Other potential goals for the club are having an exhibit along a theme to display members’ handiwork and even, Meyerson said, “to bring in potters from the area to get different perspectives and learn different techniques.”

The Ceramics Club is not yet recognized as a subgroup by College Council (CC), so it is currently waiting on funding. It will hopefully receive funding to help with studio costs.

The inspiration behind the Quilting Club was an “Ephquilts” class offered during last year’s Winter Study period. Several of the students in the class decided to continue quilting. Two of the students in the class, Betsy Hart ’14 and Emily Wickstrom ’14, decided to found the Quilting Club. Hart and Wickstrom now serve as co-presidents. Hart says the idea for a club seemed very fitting, because “traditionally, quilting is done in groups.”

The club has doubled in size since last semester to more than 20 members. These members have a wide range of experience making quilts. Some have made several quilts before, while others have made none, and even knowing how to sew on a machine is not a prerequisite for joining the club. The faculty advisor for the Quilting Club is Debra Rogers-Gillig, a technical assistant in the biology department, who is a big help in teaching the new quilters, according to Hart.

So far, Hart says, “funding has been a little difficult” because of the high overhead costs for setting up the club These costs include the purchase of sewing machines and other supplies. The club’s goal is to have each of its members complete an entire quilt by the end of the semester and to have a show allowing all quilters to display their crafts

The Fiber Club, whose members crochet, knit and spin, was started, “on a whim,” according to founder Abraham Kirby-Galen ’16. Curious to see what kind of response he would get, Kirby-Galen sent a message out on WSO last year about starting something similar to the Fiber Club. Within a few hours, he had heard back from Samantha Troia ’15.

Troia, along with Kirby-Galen, became a co-founder of the club. Troia’s family owns a fiber farm, and she brought a lot of experience with crocheting, knitting and spinning to the partnership. Once the two met, the idea took off. Both were surprised by how much enthusiasm students had, especially those who had knitted or crocheted and wanted the chance to share their work.

According to the co-founders, the goal of the Fiber Club is “to create a space where knitters, spinners and others can work for an hour on their projects, share, get help and schmooze,” Kirby-Galen said.

“Fiber plays such a fundamental and yet, overlooked role in history, personal history and in our lives today,” Troia said of the club’s importance. One of her goals in starting the club was to bring that overlooked aspect of history to campus and allow people to create in “one of the most ancient ways possible.” Fiber Club welcomes members of all abilities.

One of the club’s goals for this year is to teach knitting and crocheting.The club also plans on donating some of the work it produces, such as hats and scarves, to charities. They may also take a trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, allowing members the chance to learn more about the process of making yarn.

The club hopes to become a recognized group under CC, enabling members to get funding for supplies. By the end of the year, the Fiber Club aims to showcase students work.