Hands-On at College’s Art Workshops

Note: sobriety is not optional.

Note: sobriety is not optional.

In the spirit of Moving Dartmouth Forward, The Dartmouth Review would like to inform students of several sober extracurricular activities available on our newly dry campus. Please note that the “sober” part is not optional: it is best that you attend these workshops sober. Drunken undergraduates with chainsaws sounds too much like the plot to another sequel for Spring Breakers or Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Have you ever found yourself with hours upon hours of free time on your hands? No? Well neither has any other Dartmouth student, but before you write this off as “another thing you don’t have time for,” just remember that these workshops offer students a creative outlet and a break from Hanlon’s “academic rigor”. With this in mind, here is some information about the College’s various artistic workshops and how you can get involved.

You may have some basic questions about the studios. You may be worried that you are going to be embarrassingly bad (you probably will be at first). You probably don’t even know where the studio is. Will someone be there to help you? Will you accidently maim yourself? Don’t panic. We have all the answers.

The Woodworking Studio

Where is it?

The Woodworking Shop is located downstairs in the Hopkins Center, room 62, making it easy to grab a quick dinner at the Hop after visiting the studio.

How do I get involved?

This studio is very easy to get involved with, but students must take one orientation class. These orientation classes are offered every term and ensure that you don’t injure yourself or another student. Although the Huffington Post would love to write another article on the latest shortcomings of the Dartmouth student body, lets not give them the material. I don’t doubt that the writers at the Post would somehow be able to draw a correlation between student social life and a workshop incident. Just go to the orientation class. It’s quick and painless. The schedule can be found here. After this class, students can visit the studio throughout the week. The cost is $12 per term plus the cost of materials, of which instructors can guide you to the most economical options.

Is it okay that I’ve never done this before?

Most students don’t enter college with extensive woodworking experience. When The Review talked with Gregory Elder, the director of the woodworking studio, about the workshop’s availability to beginners, he pointed out that “they encourage students with no experience and, in fact, almost everyone working here starts with no experience. That’s what we expect, so students shouldn’t let lack of experience deter them in any way.”

Newcomers to woodworking might feel a little apprehensive about handling dangerous tools for the first time. Mr. Elder made sure to emphasize the safety of the studio, “We watch over the students very carefully, not only giving advice and assistance when they want it, but also when they need it, for their safety. Safety is a top priority for us.” Between the orientation class and the supervision of professionals, your worries should be put to rest.

I’m into it. Tell me more.

As a beginner, you will more than likely not be the most talented woodworker in the studio, but over time you could become “that kid” who makes other newbies self-conscious about their elementary creations. Mr. Elder cited the case of one ’09 as a prime example: “Ryan Yuk ‘09 had never made anything in wood and decided to make a small bench the spring of his third year. It was beautiful and so well done. He said, ‘When I come back in the fall, I’m going to build 5 chairs’, and he did, along with an exhibit of those in Baker Library.” You could be the next Yuk.

Overall, the woodworking studio provides a welcoming environment and helpful instructors to enable students to develop a new skill or further a pre-existing interest. Visit the studio website in order to find a schedule and get involved.

Jewelry Studio

Where is it?

The Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio is located in the basement of the Hopkins Center, across from the Paddock Music Library, and like the Woodworking Studio.

How do I get involved?

Just swing by during studio hours! The jewelry and metalsmithing studio is home to professional staff members and accomplished students who will help you get situated and minimize the likelihood of soldering your finger off. Unlike the woodworking studio, there is no introductory session needed. An inexperienced student visiting the studio for the first time will likely get start off with a simple project such as a ring or a pair of earrings. An average beginners piece costs around $5 for materials, in additions to a $12 per term studio fee, and takes about 1-2 hours.

Is it okay that I’ve never done this before?

Other than jewelry-making birthday parties in kindergarten with chunky beads and macaroni on yarn, the average Dartmouth student has no prior jewelry-making experience, and none is needed to participate in the studio. The professionals and students will teach you all you need to know from cutting, filing and bending metal, soldering, hammering, sanding, polishing and creating texture and pattern within the span of your first project. Alli Wishner ’17 attests to this, saying, “Absolutely no experience is required. The staff will give you as much help as you need, and I needed a lot. It was a great experience, and now I have a ring I wear daily that I made myself!”

From then on you can slowly build your way up to more complex projects. The studio offers weekly classes on particular jewelry-making skillsets for a $15 dollar fee and promises tips and tricks as well as a finished project to take home. Some of the spring classes include diamond setting (diamonds not included) and a class on how to make a simple silver set of cufflinks, just in time for spring formal season!

I’m into it. Tell me more.

Like learning most skills, there is a learning curve at the jewelry studio, but the wide range of options available and the creative and welcoming environment is enough to make you want to go back time and time again. The “J-Shop” as it is fondly known by its recurring visitors, provides an escape from the academic “rigor” of Moving Dartmouth Forward. As Emi Weed ’13 notes, the J-Shop is the perfect, “creative opportunity to experience catharsis,” in such a strenuous academic environment.

As a whole the J-shop allows students to take a break from their studies to focus their creative energy into a wearable piece of art they can treasure forever. For more info on how to get involved, class offerings, and studio hours check here.

Ceramics Studio

Where is it?

The Ceramics studio is a bit of a hike from campus. Given the need for a gas-powered kiln to fire students’ work, the Davidson Ceramics studio is across the river from the Ledyard Canoe Club in Norwich, Vermont. The Ceramics Studio is the brick and white cape style farmhouse facing the parking lot.

How do I get involved?

Some high school arts programs expose students to some degree of Ceramics, whether it be hand building with clay, sculpture, or “throwing” on the wheel. Having visited the Ceramics Studio with varying degrees of experience, the staff was welcoming, helpful, ready to teach or lend a hand regardless of your skillset, and definitely fun to chat with. Like the other studios, the Ceramics Studio requires a twelve-dollar termly fee for studio use, and then five dollars per each four-pound bag of clay one uses. The average small beginner piece usually consists of about one pound of clay or less so you should be set for a while.

Unlike the other studios, you may need to set aside a significant amount of time to make a piece at the ceramics studio. The average piece takes about three separate visits to make: the first to make, the second to “trim” or perfect, and the third to glaze, all before you can pick up your bowl, mug, cup, or catch-all.

Is it okay that I’ve never done this before?

Absolutely. The professionals and remarkably talented student staff will guide you through each leg of the process. Whether you are looking on advice on how to perfect the vase you made for mothers day, attempting to salvage a lump of clay that was supposed to be a bowl, or looking to do some extra-credit for Classics 001 (guilty), the staff will advise and assist you every step of the way.

As a greenhorn, the studio recommends wearing clothes you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. Despite the large smock you are given, somehow clay gets everywhere. Tip for ladies and gents with long hair: bring a hair tie, otherwise you will be stuck in the library later that night combing dried clay out of the ends of your hair (also guilty). The studio also offers workshops to improve your skillset, as well as a chance to help create a homemade glaze, if you are lucky!

I’m into it. Tell me more.

The ceramics studio offers a great environment if you are really looking to get away from it all. The scenic walk across the river and the cathartic quality of playing with clay really help de-stress the most anxious of students (guilty again). You will be really satisfied when, at the end of your three visits, you have a nice mug to drink you illicit hard alcohol out of and to brag about to your friends!

As a whole the ceramics studio is a welcoming, creative space, perfect for de-stressing or to gossiping with friends while painting a pot. Check out the website for more info on how to get to the studio, hours, and workshop times.

As you can see, there are many options on campus for the budding artist within all of us, from the novice to the master.  Don’t be afraid to try one of the places we mentioned any time you’re wondering what you should do after refueling at the Hop.

Grace T. Carney also contributed to this report.