As some of you may know, I have been promoting the upcoming Holiday Artisan Marketplace on December 11, 2019 from 9am-2pm, which is in support of the soon to be completed UCSD Crafts Center. If you would like to attend this event, please message me and I will add you to the list of attendees! The deadline to apply is on December 9, 2019. I decided, in the midst of preparing work for the show, that I really wanted to write a piece about the re-opening of the UCSD Crafts Center that has been on my mind for the past several years. Now, I feel, is the perfect time to talk about the history of the original UCSD Crafts Center, my personal experiences at the orginal Crafts Center, its closure seven years ago and its impact on myself and the community at large, and lastly the importance of crafts within the greater San Diego community. In view of the depth of information involved in this undertaking, I’m going to release this story in stages as a multi-part series on my blog.
In 1972, the UCSD Crafts Center started as a commuter lounge. It eventually turned into a crafts community following various donations of equipment. The original Director of the Crafts Center, Ron Carlson, explained
Once somebody donated a potter’s wheel and a kiln to the University. Somehow the commuter lounge was where they wound up. It helped us form alliances with the ceramics club, the photo club, and soon we had turned into a cluster crafts center that was the forerunner of any student center on campus.
The original Crafts Center was a curious brown and green roofed wooden building nestled amongst a stand of eucalyptus trees. In fact, it was consciously built around the existing trees so as not to disturb them! In the ceramics area, there was, quite literally, a tree growing in the center of the room! As the Crafts Center expanded, the artists and instructors actively participated in its actual construction. This may have contributed to its maze-like layout, as various rooms were added on throughout the years. But it only added to its charm!
Joyce Rooks, who took over as director shortly before the Crafts Center’s closure, said to me that upon her research she discovered that the UCSD Crafts Center was the biggest crafts center on the west coast, not in terms of physical size but in terms of the breadth of classes that it offered. The school not only offered the standard crafts classes, such as jewelry making, ceramics, photography, drawing and painting, but it also offered classes in flameworking, glassblowing, neon making, loom weaving, basket weaving, beer brewing, silk screen printing, guitar playing and blacksmithing. In fact, when I spoke to the neon instructor, he stated it was the only class of its kind offered in any college or university.
The Crafts Center was a very special place where various craft disciplines converged in a single space. It created a very diverse community of artists of varying experience and across all social strata since it wasn’t specially reserved for the students of UCSD, but rather was also open to the community at large. The Crafts Center was a welcoming and supportive community and the people that discovered this hidden treasure knew how truly precious it was.
Next week, I will elaborate more on my own personal experience with the Crafts Center. And never fear if you are unable to attend this upcoming UCSD Holiday Sale! You can rest assured that we will be having multiple sales and events on campus all throughout next year. Hopefully we will also expand the events into the greater San Diego community in the near future!
If you would like to see what I’m working on leading up to the show, click on the links below and follow me on: