Paper and Clay creates artistic atmosphere

Photo by Monica Jamison

Tucked away on the third floor of the Student Center is a pair of rooms defined by clean space and surfaces colored green, white and teal. Walking in, one might first notice the pair of sewing machines in the corner or the relaxed but upbeat music bubbling from the speakers.

As one goes further and detects the subtle scent of clay, one can see shelves lined with pottery in a cornucopia of styles — simple, complex, abstract, concrete.

In the back, there may be one or two people working on their own projects with an air of gravity and calm. This is Paper and Clay, Tech’s art studio and lounge.

At Paper and Clay, a whole variety of creative projects are possible with the range of tools and materials available for students. Pottery wheels and glazes allow the sculpting and painting of ceramics.

A large scale printer for posters is available online — many of the posters hanging in the front of the Student Center came from this very location.

The front of the room features the Inspiration Lounge, where one can practice the arts of origami, sewing, jewelry or charcoal. Raw material for crafting is available at a low price, and use of the equipment is free. For the uninitiated, one more thing readily available is expertise.

“You don’t have to know anything to get started, just ask questions,” said D’Miria Collins, one of the attendants at Paper and Clay.

Attendant intervention is not a requirement, however. Though activities like sewing and stained glass require proof of proper training, most of the devices can be used with nothing but the help of an online video.

Free student-run workshops also occur periodically as do paid professional-led classes, the next of which are pottery classes on Feb. 20 and Mar. 27.

Many are drawn here for reasons beyond the need to simply have a space to work. The relaxed and free-form atmosphere attract students even when they’re not actively working.

“This is the best place I’ve worked because of the environment,” said Thomas King, a studio attendant at Paper and Clay. “Kids here are doing what they enjoy doing.”

The attendants mostly allow the users to exercise their creativity. Gabrielle Campiglia, one of the current student managers of Paper and Clay, recounted how she saw a project that mixed the use of clay and glass, saying she found the openness that fostered the idea to be a “big part of the creativity of the space.”

This aura is one reason the studio has many regulars; “about one fifth of the people here at a given time are here every day,” according to Campiglia.

Part of this success is a result of a number of significant changes that were made in Fall 2013. At that time, the photography dark room was replaced with the Inspiration Lounge, and the office was moved closer to the entrance.

This reconfiguration opened up the space and attracted a greater influx of students, increasing the amount the studio was used threefold.

Now, Paper and Clay is the perfect locale to perfect one’s pottery skills, to make a gift for that special someone or, ultimately, to  just hang out.