Craft Center History

old photo of people making ceramics

Students have been crafting and creating at the Craft Center for decades. In the spring of 1966, students worked to establish a craft center to make productive and creative use of their leisure time. Located in a small and humble setting, the first Craft Center was in the Memorial Union Ballroom's coat and hat check room. Jewelry, lapidary, wood carving, and weaving were popular crafts then. The Craft Center’s popularity prompted an expansion, and it moved to a new location in the MU East/Snell Hall in 1977, increasing its square footage to 4,600 square feet of space. Many new programs were offered; the most popular was the addition of ceramics and photography. Yet another expansion occurred in 1996, occupying what had been The Gallery, a former eatery, into what we referred to as our South Classroom, bringing its overall size to over 11,000 sq. feet and allowing for additional programs and classes.


In March 2015, the Craft Center relocated into a new facility in the basement level of the Student Experience Center (SEC), occupying approximately ten thousand square feet of artist studio space. The planning and building of the SEC was student-initiated, funded, and continues to be funded through student fees. Craft Center Director Susan Bourque, served as consultant and worked with Interior Design students, architects and engineers to plan and design every aspect of the new facility focused upon being a welcoming and inspiring creative space. The Craft Center is grateful to be amongst the fee-funded departments housed within the SEC. We offer programs and classes in ceramics, textiles (weaving, sewing, and spinning), silk screening and printmaking, glass torch work, fused glass and stained glass, jewelry and metal work, fine woodworking, paper arts, and more. Presently we are open six days a week, typically offering over 2,500 hours of non-credit classes and workshops per year plus 46 hours of available studio time per week to members to create and de-stress.  In addition there is special crafts programming for campus events like family weekends, welcome week and opportunities for student clubs, organizations and groups to collaborate with the the Craft Center to plan or enhance an event by adding a craft component. As a student fee funded program, the Craft Center focuses upon and serves OSU students. 

There have been four Full time Directors/Artists over-seeing the Craft Center and it’s many transformations over several decades:
Don Johnson, Kent Sumner, Barbara Sobo Gast and Susan Bourque with a few interim managers in between their tenure. Fall 2024 ushers in a new chapter and  a fifth OSU Craft Center Director- Kate Ali.  

old photo of people in darkroom