For Bowdoin students searching for stress relief during finals week, look no further than the Craft Center.

The Craft Center offers a myriad of programs as well as an open studio space for the Bowdoin community. This semester, there are over 60 members who take courses and share the space. Memberships, which are $25 a semester, allow students to use the Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week for individual work.

According to the Craft Center Manager Bonnie Pardue, the membership ranges from the serious artisan to the more casual participant.

"There are three types of students who use the Craft Center," Pardue said. "One is the serious craft student, who has a particular medium in which they like to work, the second is someone who wants to learn a new craft, and the third is a student who likes to come to the Center to relax with other like-minded artisans."

Recent programming has included classes in wheel throwing, quilting, beading, glass fusing, stained glass, hammered silver jewelry, and clay work. Courses, lasting several weeks at a time, are generally offered at the rate of $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Instructors are local artists Bonnie Faulkner, Bill Flood, and Lottie Ellis.

The Center recently sponsored the Earth, Wind and Fiber competition currently on display in the Lamarche Gallery of Smith Union.

"The criteria for the competition was that students had to use elements of earth, wind, or fiber to make sculptures that would move independently with wind," said Pardue.

Awards were given for the most original, most colorful, most expressive, and most movable entries. Among the winners were Hannah Scheidt '10, Jake Murray '08, and Colby Trenkelbach '10. Scheidt won "Most Original" for her hanging sculpture comprised of branches, fiber and leaves.

In the spring semester, the Center will be sponsoring another competition focused on recyclable materials. "We want to work with [Coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin] Keisha Payson about connecting it to Earth Day, so that will work out very well," said Pardue.

On Wednesday evenings starting in December, the Center will run a free open studio for all Bowdoin students wishing to work on holiday gifts or individual projects. Two instructors will be on hand for help and guidance during these studio times.

Pardue praised the unique opportunities presented by the Center. "It is an inviting place, somewhere where students are welcome to work on something different. At many other schools this kind of opportunity is only present for art majors," she said.

The Craft Center offers classes primarily to Bowdoin students, staff, and children, but they have recently extended programs to include the Brunswick community.

The Center is located in the white building between Chamberlain Hall and the Admissions Office and is open 24 hours a day. In December, Open Studio will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.