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DIY crafting promotes self-care in Athens

Athens, a small, hippie college town, has a reputation for art. Ohio University helps promote that reputation by providing weekly craft nights.

Marti and Stewie craft nights are Thursdays at 9 p.m. in West 82, supported by Housing and Residence Life. The How-To Series, on Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m., is on the second floor of Baker Center and operated through the Campus Involvement Center.

Craft nights are a non-committal, fun, free extracurricular with which students can easily get involved.

“Any kind of student can enjoy this kind of stuff,” Kellee Steffen, the residence director at Atkinson House, said. “We don’t require a certain skill level, and you don’t have to come every week. Just stop by, hang out and get a free craft.”

Crafting seems to be overall good for one’s well-being.

“It's a good de-stressing activity,” Steffen said. 

Marti and Stewie craft night is a healthy alternative to Thursday nights when the weekend unofficially begins.

“It's an alcohol-alternative activity so it's something that people can come into on a Thursday night, when typically that's a going-out night,” Steffen said. “Instead, they're able to hang out with their friends and paint something.” 

Other than a good social environment, students are also able to take home the craft each week. When dorm rooms look bare and overwhelmingly beige, some students may make crafts to give their room a little more personality. 

Crafts offered by Marti and Stewie differ each week. 

“We do canvas painting, we do different wooden crafts that students can paint,” Steffen said.

Sometimes the types of crafts are themed or altered for special occasions. 

“For Valentine’s Day, we did heart-shaped crafts and then we'll do Ohio letters or OU letters — different stuff like that,” Steffen said. 

Guests can come to Marti and Stewie’s craft nights, Steffen said. Everyone is welcome as long as supplies last.

“I think a lot of the students also use the crafts we provide as little, cute decorations for their residence hall room or their apartment off-campus,” Steffen said.

Jenna Jackels, a freshman studying pre-nursing, went to her first craft night with a few friends last Thursday. 

“I’ve been getting the emails for a while now and I’ve always wanted to come,” Jackels said.

Jackels enjoys painting but doesn’t always have the money or time, she said. 

“I want to come more often. I think it'd be a fun way to be with friends just to get out of my dorm,” Jackels said.

Another great resource for aspiring crafters and artists is the local business, Beads and Things on 8 N. Shafer St.

“People can just come in a make jewelry,” Audrey Yane, a manager at Beads and Things, said. 

Customers can come in Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to look at the vast array of beads offered and make jewelry. The only things needed before coming into Beads and Things are creativity and time.

“We give free instructions. You don’t need to know how to make anything, you just have to have to have plenty of time,” Yane said. “You have to be able to be sparked with ideas once you start seeing beads. You don’t have to come in with a plan.”

The creative process is a therapeutic one, Yane said. There's a lot of value in making something yourself.

“There is such a thing as art therapy,” Yane said. “Not only are they getting something for themselves out of it — art therapy — but if they're making something for someone else, they're getting something unique and from them… part of art therapy is doing it yourself.” 

There is also great value in making something with your own hands, something that is guaranteed to be unique. 

“It’s definitely better than just stopping in at Walmart and picking something up,” Yane said.

Like Marti and Stewie’s craft nights, Beads and Things has a great environment for finding something to do with friends. 

“A lot of people will come in with a friend, so it just also makes for a good time to socialize,” Yane said.  

Certain times of the year are busier than others, Yane said. A stop by Beads and Things during finals week makes for a great stress reliever.

“I feel that especially being in a college town, it’s a good way to use the other part of your brain that students are not using as much. It gives them a break,” Yane said.


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