For many of our students, involvement with Student Craft is their first time formally exploring art, craft, and design—an example of the unique opportunities that are part of the Berea College experience.
Through these explorations and many others like them within Berea College’s Labor Program, we expand the learning opportunities of a liberal arts education beyond the lessons in the classroom. These experiences directly support the professional goals our students are pursuing and pave the way toward a future avocation nurturing and supporting the arts. We hope you enjoy this new format and get to know Student Craft a little more through the stories we share.

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The Purpose Collection Bowls

Daisy ’24 and Ellen’24, both studio art majors, at work creating the unique squared feet of our Purpose Collection bowls.

Purpose Collection

The collection draws inspiration from our Seventh Great Commitment and its focus on mindfulness and a concern for the welfare of others. Designed by students Zoe Cowley ’20 and Rachael Bates ’20 with bright vibrant colors, global forms and a surprising depth of texture. Each individual piece displays a range of colors. The collection drew inspiration from the College’s Fifth Great Commitment celebrating the importance of recognizing the kinship of all people. Featuring mugs, bowls, batter bowls, berry bowls, and pitchers with purple, green, blue, and yellow accents.

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The “Wren” Quilt Square

Eden ’24, an accounting major, designed the “Wren” quilted hanging square to help us be mindful of our natural surroundings. The design was inspired by a quilt Eden remembers her grandmother making when she was a child.

Wren Quilt Block

“My grandmother always did quilting when I was younger. I can remember a quilt that she had made as decoration to hang on the wall. It was brightly colored had many different animals. That is why I wanted to use the bright colors in my quilt block and have an animal incorporated into my design. The bird is important to me because it is a Wren and that is my younger sister’s middle name.”

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Dustpan and Broom Set

Designed as a group project with students and staff from Woodcraft and Broomcraft, this cherry dustpan and brush, built with a mix of Osage Orange and Walnut dyed Broomcorn and dyed with natural madder, exemplifies the beauty of simple, clean and purposeful design.

The Dustpan is 7.5″ by 10.5″ and the broom is 9″ by 14.5″

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Elaine ’23, a biology major who works in Woodcraft, is pictured here gathering marigold flowers for use as natural dye material in Student Craft as part of her internship with director of weaving, Erin Miller.

Forest Shaker Braid Broom

Crafted entirely by hand, the handles for this broom were harvested from the Berea College Forest by staff and students, and include maple, sassafras and beech. The handles are left to dry before winding brooms with broomcorn naturally dyed with black walnuts from campus and heartwood shavings from an Osage Orange tree within the College Forest. The stalks used to braid the base of the handle are also naturally dyed. The broom is then hand stitched using natural, sustainable hemp chord.

L 52″

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Aaliyah ’24, who majors in chemistry, bundles red maple saplings for use as handles for our Forest Broom. Both our growing use of natural dyes, and the use of carefully managed resources from the College Forest, help to deepen the connection between Berea College’s students and the natural world we are committed to preserving.

Red maple, native to the Appalachian region, can be invasive. If left unchecked, it would reduce the diversity of Berea College’s 9,000 acres of forest land. Broomcraft staff and students play a small role, under the supervision of the College’s foresters, to help thin out these saplings for use within Student Craft.

Rise Throw Full Stripe

Every morning we rise to make this new day better than the last, honoring our past not just as a foundation for our future, but as a guide to how we may do better for the earth and its people.

Inspired by blankets found in Berea’s Appalachian Center Artifact Collection, these hemp and wool throws will last for generations and only grow softer with age. Available in full stripes, or smaller sections of cool or warm colors. The unique arrangement of each design allows students to make decisions on the color and placement of stripes, meaning each throw is one of a kind. Creativity and critical thinking are crucial skills to develop as a maker, and these blankets encourage our students to hone those skills while honoring the material.

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Director of weaving Erin Miller (right) teaches student Holly ’23, a double major in engineering technologies and applied design (ETAD) and art, finishing and quality inspection techniques on one of our Rise Throws. These throws, while contemporary in design, are perhaps our most traditional in terms of materials made with hemp and wool.

Brushy Fork Tote

A celebration of our 7th Great Commitment to Supportive and Sustainable Living.

Designed by student Merlyn ’23 the Brushy Fork Tote is woven using six pairs of colors, all of which were chosen to reflect the colors you might see while out walking the trails during various times of the year. The weaver gets to choose, within set parameters, which color to use and how long they want to use it before switching colors. This design makes each tote bag unique, and each weaving experience an act of creation, not just pure production. Merlyn wanted to make something that would be consistently fun and engaging to weave; no one wants to be bored at the loom. The weave structure itself is inspired by vines and the exposed root structures of the trees that are visible by the water. The straps are dyed using a natural dye made of black walnuts gathered from Brushy Fork, which is a creek that runs through a natural area adjacent to campus. This allowed us to incorporate a very real part of the forest into the bag.

12” W x 15”L

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Brushy Fork Tote

Merlyn ’23, a philosophy major, designed our new Brushy Fork Tote bag as an extension of the mindfulness practices they engage in at the College’s Brushy Fork trails. Situated on the south edge of Berea’s campus, Brushy Fork offers students an opportunity for a contemplative and restorative retreat within a short walk from campus.