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BFA | Craft and Material Studies

Through interdisciplinary art practice and material-based technical skills and research, students in the Craft and Material Studies (CaMS) program learn to bring together contemporary fine art and craft skills, using cutting-edge technologies and critical thought to imagine and create objects and environments with imagination, technical skill, and an understanding and appreciation of both traditional and contemporary materials and methods. Firmly established in a top-ranked comprehensive Research I university, well-known for its engineering and science disciplines, Craft and Material studies students have the opportunity to connect their work to a larger socio-technological discourse on campus and beyond and are encouraged to develop interdisciplinary ties to other areas of study within and outside of the College of Liberal Arts.

The Skilled Material Fine Artist

The goal of the Craft and Material Studies (CaMS) program is not only to develop expertise in at least one of the disciplines of metals, ceramics, textiles and sculpture, but also to develop students’ ability to use the language of the object as means for expressing universal and individual ideas within a material forum. The program provides an interdisciplinary laboratory for the exploration and creation of combinations of techniques, and encourages the exchange of ideas and concepts across disciplines. Students acquire the flexibility to use their skills in a contemporary fine-art, conceptual and/or interdisciplinary forum, to be creative with their acquired skills, and to be able to adapt to the challenges of rapidly changing job requirements in the world of creative professions. Graduates of the CaMS program may go on to continue their studies in MFA programs and artists residencies, nationally or internationally, or work as artists, educators, fabric or clothing designers, museum exhibition designers, gallerists, jewelry designers, tinkerers, material consultants and producers (in culture, entertainment and advertising industries). Students in this area are encouraged to practice in all four area of the program and combine their skills in each one to create objects portraying an expanded appreciation and understanding of a world based in materials..

Areas of Study


Ceramics is an area of study that covers physics, chemistry, history, design and fabrication, and is rooted in a comprehensive ability to handle a specific material in various stages. The technical expertise in the ceramics area is firmly established in order to enable the student to use this knowledge to expand into conceptual and fine arts-based work, interdisciplinary work with other media (jewelry, sculpture, industrial design,) and installation work. Ceramics students are encouraged to work with all other area in the Crafts and Material Studies program to expand their ideas and push beyond any perceived boundaries and limitations of the discipline. In their research and art practice, CaMS students interested in ceramics learn the fundamentals of all techniques including throwing on the wheel, hand-building, mold-making and slip-casting, firing in oxidation and reduction (atmospheric) kilns. Students do extensive research into making clay bodies, including earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and casting slips, and glaze calculation. Students are encouraged to make all the surface applications required in a contemporary ceramics fine art practice, including all types of glazes, lusters, decals, screen printing. In addition to ceramics the advanced students are encouraged to experimenting with glass slumping and pate de verre.


CaMS students interested in metals and jewelry learn the fundamentals of the materials in this discipline by mastering all the contemporary techniques required for a contemporary metals practice. Our early ancestors made shells into beads and began to adorn themselves 100,000 years ago, making jewelry the earliest known art form and central to the beginning of human culture. Jewelry is a uniquely portable form of art. Intimate in scale, it can be easily displayed in public places and doesn’t rely on the museum or gallery to be seen. Students find fertile ground for their ideas by exploring concepts addressing identity, the body, value, desire, power, beauty and other concepts of signification inherent in jewelry. The field of jewelry/metals today encompasses a wide variety of metalworking and non-metals processes for making jewelry, sculpture, vessels, mixed-media works, installations and more. An extraordinary variety of materials, from powerfully symbolic to delicate and ephemeral, have historically been used in jewelry/metals and this mixed media exploration is encouraged.


The sculpture program strongly encourages students to explore, define, and develop personal artistic expression while thinking critically within the context of the world of contemporary sculpture as well as their major area of study. Coursework emphasizes concept development rather than the acquisition of technical skills. The student is permitted to incorporate any materials available to them into their sculpture practice, and an interdisciplinary approach towards including performance and video is highly encouraged.


Remembered and recorded in myth and poetry, textile-making is one of the most ancient crafts. The first textiles provided protection from the elements or served as tools for gathering food. In time, humans embellished the textile to make it aesthetically impactful. Students gain experience in a broad range of textile media. Woven textiles introduces basic loom weaving, color interaction, and tapestry techniques. Constructed textiles explores methods such as crocheting, coiling, plaiting, netting, and macramé to build three-dimensional artwork. Screen-printed textiles teaches the basics of stencil printing and repeat design. Dyed textiles teach such techniques as tie dye, batik, marbling, and quilting to create surface patterns. By studying historical and traditional textiles from cultures throughout the world, students learn to create contemporary work in the four basic textile courses. Advanced students may concentrate in any combination of textile media and are encouraged to explore other fine arts areas to supplement their coursework.

State of the Art Facilities

Students in the Craft and Material Studies area have access to:

Ceramics: a fully equipped ceramics studio with 10 Brent wheels, three alpine gas kilns, a soda kiln, five electric kilns, two test kilns, a moldmaking and slipcasting room, two clay mixers (one Bluebird, one Soldner) and a state of the art glaze-decal printer. Students are also provided with a small screen-printing set up in the ceramics studio to allow them to make and burn their own silk-screens.

Jewelry and Metals: Purdue’s jewelry/metals studio is equipped for the basic processes of soldering, casting, enameling, etching, forging, raising, stone-setting, rubber mold-making, resins, patinas, electroforming and anodizing.

Sculpture: The sculpture studio is equipped with drill presses, band saws, belt sanders, sheet metal cutters, sheet metal benders, a water cooled metal band saw, brazing torch stations, a wire-feed mig welder, a photo area for documentation of 3D work.

In addition, all students in the CaMS area have access to two fully equipped dedicated computer laboratories, a flexible reconfigurable multi-purpose space for larger-scale artistic experiments, a dedicated photography studio set up to catalogue their work, a woodworking shop, metal shop equipment, brazing and welding tools, sandblasters, as well as 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC routing equipment.