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A member at the ASUNM Arts and Crafts Studio carves intricate designs into a clay object. The Arts and Crafts Studio, located in the bottom level of the SUB, offers a variety of materials for making jewelry and ceramics.
A member at the ASUNM Arts and Crafts Studio carves intricate designs into a clay object. The Arts and Crafts Studio, located in the bottom level of the SUB, offers a variety of materials for making jewelry and ceramics.

UNM Arts and Crafts Studio creates student outlet

Executive Director Helen Atkins said the studio, located on the bottom floor of the SUB, provides a creative outlet for students.

“Not everyone has the ability, with their busy schedules, to set aside time or a space to make art that is important to them,” Atkins said. “We offer something that I think is essential. It’s really therapeutic and sort of meditative for students.”

She said the Arts and Crafts Studio has the capabilities to make ceramic pieces as well as jewelry, and it’s open to students, faculty and anyone else in the community.

“This is a place for everybody, from all experience levels,” she said.

For students to gain access to the studio and its equipment, they must pay a $12 membership fee for the semester. UNM faculty can get a membership for $20, and anyone else for $40, according to the studio’s website.

As of Tuesday, Atkins said, the studio has 61 student members and 32 faculty and community members for the semester. She said that any finished ceramics pieces that members want to take with them will cost 50 cents per pound.

“A mug or a cup is usually no more than a dollar,” she said. “It’s pretty much the cheapest studio in the city.”

UNM alum Robert Chavez said he first developed a deep love for making pottery when he began experimenting with the craft at the community studio.

“I discovered I had a real talent for pottery, and I was even able to make a little money on the side selling my crafts,” Chavez said. “Since then I’ve kept it up as a hobby. It’s a great way to relax and express myself with my hands.

Atkins said that biggest event of the year for the studio is the Arts and Crafts Fair, which is held every November on campus. The studio organizes the event and invites vendors, usually about 70 of them, emphasizing that the products in the fair are made by their own hands.

“We make sure (their products) are handcrafted and local,” she said. “We get no imported merchandise at all.”

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The fair has been a staple event at UNM since 1963. Products include “custom clothes, chain mail jewelry, crocheted stuffed animals, fused glass window art and local honey,” according to a November Daily Lobo article.

Atkins said that the studio also holds workshops for members to learn about various crafts. They include weekly jewelry introduction workshops and, starting in the near future, a weekly ceramic workshop.

“We are also open for people to make one-on-one appointments with technicians, if they have other questions or things they want to know about,” she said.

The workshop schedule, as well as the daily operating hours of the studio, can be found on their website.

Atkins said the studio also hosts DIY nights on Fridays, which are available to all students regardless of whether they are a member or not.

“They focus around other crafts that we don’t offer all the time,” Atkins said. “So we allow you to come in for one day and receive instruction, and you then have something really cool to take home.”

This semester’s DIY Friday Nights are Sharpie Mug Night, scented candles and beauty products. They will be on Feb. 27, March 27 and April 24, respectably. There is a $5 materials fee.

The studio also allows students the opportunity to showcase the art they make in the studio. There are glass showcases along the front of the studio that students walking by can check out.

“We’re always looking for student vendors, and trying to see new ways that we can promote student work and students artists,” Atkins said.

The Art and Crafts Studio is just one of many agencies of the Associates Students of UNM, along with the Southwest Film Center, Student Special Events and Lobo Spirit, focused on “improving the quality of life and education of all UNM students,” according to ASUNM’s website.

Atkins said her philosophy as executive director focuses on the students, allowing them another method of utilizing college life.

“We really just want to provide an open space where students who aren’t art majors can come to receive education and supplies,” she said, “everything they would need to continue the practice.”

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.


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