Kent State students are crafting their own future

Sara Macho

Specialty major offers students many career options

Junior crafts major Molly Hughes cold forges a piece of metal in the metals lab in Van Deusen Hall.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Being good with your hands takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a crafts major.

Kent State crafts majors study four disciplines: textiles, glassblowing, ceramics and jewelry-metals and enameling. After taking courses in the first level of each of these specialties, crafts majors pick a concentration to focus the rest of their studies on.

Metals students learn a variety of technical skills in the classroom. Students learn skills such as how to do casting, stone setting, polishing, filing and constructing different pieces of metal. A crafts degree is one the broadest art majors a student can have, said Laura Griffith, junior jewelry-metals major.

Griffith switched from studying biology to crafts. She said being a crafts major is a calling.

“An individual has to really enjoy what they are doing when they are in this major,” Griffith said.

Carolanne Tkach, junior crafts major with a concentration in metals, admits her father was skeptical of his daughter’s choice of studies.

Tkach said her father asked her, “So, what are you going to do with this?”

There are many options for students graduating with a degree in crafts. Graduates can display their skills by performing custom work, designing jewelry for a company, starting their own line or participating in gallery shows.

Crafts majors do a gallery show their senior year to display their work. The gallery shows are a great opportunity for students to present their projects and express their own styles.

“You work on it your senior year and at the end of the year, you can show what you have worked on,” Griffith said. The gallery shows are in the Art Gallery in the Art Building. The gallery shows are a great opportunity for students who will be graduating soon.

“You could make business cards and get your name out there,” Griffith said.

People may not be aware of the crafts market, said Tkach.

Tkach plans to work as a commission artist after graduation. Commission artists work with individual customers to design a specific piece of jewelry, she said.

“Someone may tell me, ‘I want something like this,’ or ‘Can you take this and do this with it?’ ” Tkach said.

Molly Hughes, junior crafts major with a concentration in metals and enameling, feels that a good path for crafts majors to take after graduation is to assist an established artist.

“You learn how to do things at school, but you really learn how to use those skills to your benefit and in a more functional way when you get into the job force,” Hughes said.

Crafts majors can do a number of things after graduation.

“You can work in your corner jewelry store, do customwork, like if someone wants a wedding ring or custom jewelry, or you can mix it with archaeology,” Tkach said. Students can also teach at the university level, she said.

Tkach may go into business with her mother, who is an artist and a naturalist painter for Kelley’s Island.

“With this degree, you could design jewelry for Tiffany’s or work for large-scale companies,” she said.

Hughes plans on doing some art shows and building up a line of her work. She is also toying with the idea of opening a bridal salon.

While Griffith is still exploring her options for after graduation, she plans on working for a jeweler to get a better feel for the industry. She also wants to explore doing gallery shows.

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].