Students working on pottery together

Spring 2018 — Beaver Nation is a bustling community. Emerging researchers conduct innovative studies around the world; cohorts of STEM educators collaborate with local schools to develop outreach programs; cultural resource centers engage students in important and relevant social discourse. Classrooms, bike paths and collaborative spaces are hubs of activity.

The basement level of the Student Experience Center is no different — but it exudes a distinct kind of vitality. This is a place of peace and tranquility. This is a place of passion and creativity. This is the OSU Craft Center. 

The Craft Center is a community where students, along with staff and faculty, engage  with different artistic media, like woodworking, glass, fiber arts, digital art and ceramics. Participants take classes taught by highly skilled artisans — some of whom have risen through the ranks in surprising, yet inspiring ways.

Meet Matthias Brumbaugh, a third-year student in the College of Liberal Arts graphic design program. Matthias is one of many student-turned-instructors that the Craft Center supports. His passions reside in clay and ceramics and he has worked diligently to develop his skills. Though first introduced to ceramics in high school, it was not until he felt the stresses of busy college life that ceramics took on a more important role. 

“I joined as a member of the Craft Center in spring 2015, and spent a lot of time in the studio that term,” Matthias says. “The common joke around the clay studio is that a membership is a lot cheaper than a therapist. But seriously, the Craft Center is a warm and welcoming environment where people can come and be social, relax or work by themselves.” 

Matthias’ dedication to ceramics shined through in the quality and finesse of his pieces, and he soon applied for the clay tech position. He worked behind the scenes in the studio, assisting instructors with their lessons and supporting both novice and advanced students, all while continuing to hone his own skills. In time, Matthias proved he was ready and qualified for a new responsibility — instructing. 

“It was particularly exciting when I came with the realization that I had learned enough to share my expertise with others. Now I work in the studio on my own projects while teaching and mentoring other students,” he says. 

When asked about his transition into a leadership position, Matthias credits his experience in the Boy Scouts for developing his “leadership and mentoring skills,” but has since “been able to hone and apply” these skills further as an instructor. Matthias has taught Beginning Wheel Throwing, Family Weekend Workshops and Date Night on the Wheel. He’s currently teaching a new class, one which he designed and polished himself.

This student-instructor has loved “the opportunity to share [his] creative knowledge with others, encouraging them to experiment and develop their own creative skills.”

“Most importantly,” Matthias points out, “the Craft Center is a place for ‘non-creative’ students to explore their creativity.” The Craft Center provides a “positive environment for them to use and polish the unique creative tendencies that every person possesses,” regardless of their academic interests or major. 

Matthias is just one humble student who grew into the unexpected role of an educator; he’s a meaning-maker and relationship-builder whose tools are a wheel and clay. But there are many more like him. By working at the Craft Center, a peaceful and vibrant piece of the OSU community, students can find meaning here on campus that they will surely bring with them out into the world.

This story was authored by Kimberley Preston, a student marketing and outreach coordinator at the Craft Center.