Binghamton University’s Imagination Craft Works (ICW) club is offering students lessons in arts and crafts to de-stress from the burden of finals week.
ICW is the first organization at BU dedicated to teaching and learning different types of arts and crafts. The club aims to provide a creative environment where students can relax and socialize, and Isabella Paullay, president of ICW and a senior majoring in environmental studies, said that ICW puts no pressure on its members to perfect the crafts.
“The crafts are really just open to interpretation,” she said. “You know, if you’re painting a pot, you just paint it however you want. It’s not like you have to follow strict guidelines.”
Each Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., ICW hosts workshops where anyone can create unique, do-it-yourself crafts. All materials for the crafts are free and provided by ICW, and no experience is necessary. The club has also tabled at Late Nite Binghamton and collaborated with other on-campus organizations, but it mainly relies on its weekly workshops to engage its members.
While Friday evenings may seem like an odd time to host events, Shirley Hu, ICW vice president and a senior majoring in linguistics, said this time slot provides students with different opportunities for nightlife.
“I like that we do it on a Friday night because I feel like a lot of college students on Friday nights go out and socialize, but this is a great alternative for people who want to still go out, but not the same type of going out,” she said.
Although ICW has existed for over 10 years, Melissa Castillo, marketing director for the club and a freshman double-majoring in biology and business administration, said it has recently been revamped with an influx of new members.
“We have grown exponentially since last year,” Castillo said. “Sometimes we don’t even have enough chairs for the amount of people that show up.”
While attendance to workshops varies based on each week’s craft, e-board members attribute ICW’s growth to word of mouth and member involvement. At each weekly meeting, ICW allows its members to vote on the craft they will make for the following week, which gives them something to look forward to.
According to Paullay, ICW also attracts so many students due to its laid-back, stress-free environment. It’s no secret that college comes with a range of stressors, and sometimes making crafts at the end of a long week is just what students need to de-stress.
“I know if I didn’t have this I would be just a giant ball of stress,” Paullay said. “It’s definitely a healthy way to just let it all out.”
Arlene Gao, a member of ICW and a freshman majoring in economics, agreed and said she likes how the club provides her a space to unwind.
“It’s really relaxing,” Gao said. “The activities are usually really hands-on and they’re pretty free for all. I like that I get to pick out the [materials] that I use, and then I get to sit here and just do my own thing. That’s really the best part about this club.”
For others, ICW creates a unique social experience where members can connect with people who share a similar passion. Hu said she enjoys how the love of crafting can unite students of all backgrounds.
“I like the fact that we’re all different majors and there’s a lot of differences between us and we all come together,” she said. “I find that really fascinating. It’s not just the [e-board], but the people who come here — I usually wouldn’t see them on campus, but we get to see them here because we share the same interest.”