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Dignity. Labor.

When we think of labor, we often think of the work of the hand. And sometimes that leads us to thinking that those hands work in isolation, separated somehow from the head and the heart. Our current Student Craft curriculum seeks to ensure that the head, heart, and hand are at work in our students’ learning and work.
Today almost 93% of our products have been designed by, or in collaboration with, our students as we work toward realizing the consistent mantra of visiting designer Stephen Burks that “everyone is capable of design.” Not only are our students engaged in design as well as production, but they are also designing with intention and commitment to deepening connection to and understanding of Berea’s Great Commitments.
Berea College provides head, heart, and hand learning throughout its labor and academic programs. The commitment to the dignity of all labor is a significant reason why Berea College graduates enjoy so much success post-graduation. Such an important concept helps students realize Berea College founder John G. Fee’s dream of a world with opportunity for all, regardless of class, race, or gender difference.

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The Flux Collection

The Flux collection, designed by Ellen ’24, draws inspiration from Berea College’s 4th Great Commitment to the Dignity of Labor. This commitment celebrates “the dignity and utility of all work, mental and manual, and taking pride in work well done.” Flux was created out of the necessity for cohesiveness and reliability. We required glazes that did not pinhole, crawl, or run excessively to ensure we were meeting the requirements of our loyal supporters while still providing the depth and expressiveness that makes hand made craft so unique and special. All the glazes and clay used here at Berea College Ceramics are made in-house by our students and staff.

Found Family Placemats

The inspiration for this design by students Bri and Dora ’23 was the familiar comfort of being in their parents’ kitchen, of being home. Home means something different to everyone… There’s the family you’re born into and the one you find, and they look and feel different. These placemat are reversible and the lighter and darker shade of each pair is meant to represent the person we are within both families. It was important that the colors they chose did not clash, so that any combination of them would look good together. The colors are cozy and worn, like an old blanket that’s faded from a decade of washes. In this way the placemat carries its own history into the new owner’s life like we carry our history into new chapters.

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The Purpose Collection draws inspiration from our Seventh Great Commitment and its focus on mindfulness and a concern for the welfare of others. Bowl, Mug, Pitcher, Trivet, and Set of 4 Coasters (all sold separately). Learn More
These naturally dyed placemats and coasters are woven in our traditional “Rachel” pattern with a cotton warp and a wool weft. After weaving, the placemats and the coasters are dyed with walnut, marigold, goldenrod, madder, osage orange, and chamomile. By cultivating our own natural dyes, students engage with head, heart, and hand as they care for the earth, study the biology and chemistry necessary to complete the dyeing process, and carefully weave, inspect, and finish each placemat. This run will be limited to 10 sets of 6 placemats and 10 sets of 6 coasters, with each placemat and coaster dyed with a different plant from campus. Learn More
Students Bri ’23, Zoe ’23, Dawn ’23, and Tammi ’23 came up with the idea of making flowers from cutoffs from our broom production. Although not yet available for purchase, they serve as a reminder of the creativity of Berea students. When combined with an educated hand, the potential is limitless.
The 7′ Cherry People Collection Table dressed with naturally dyed placemats and coasters from weaving students, the Purpose Collection from our ceramics students, Broomcorn Flowers from our broomcraft students, and surrounded by prototypes for next year’s People Collection Chair series from woodcraft. Learn More