What Makes the Hop a Home?

By Katie McCabe '21, Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio Fellow

I have two home bases at Dartmouth: Robinson Hall and the basement of the Hop. When campus was open, I often found myself in one or the other before I even realized I was heading somewhere; I would get out of class, top up my coffee mug and let my feet take me away on autopilot.

Sitting in Robo, I found comfort and community in doing absolutely nothing. Walking into the Hop studios, I found it by simply doing something. Now, steeped in the double-strength nostalgia of senior year done remotely, I find myself reflecting on what that something was — and how we're preserving it from afar now. 

I started at the Jewelry Studio my sophomore winter when I signed up for a two-part lost wax casting class with a friend. I didn't know what I wanted, only that I had an urge to make something pretty with my hands. And miraculously, that's exactly the niche online classes can fill too! Students now sign up for a two-part class, receive a box of materials on their doorstep and hop on Zoom to learn something new with other students, leaving the meeting an hour later with a beautiful creation, the skills and supplies to make more and the foundation of a relationship with the teacher so they can ask jewelry questions any time. We may not have the cool torches and advanced machines we were able to use in the studio, but otherwise these virtual classes replicate the experience brilliantly.

The unexpected care and camaraderie shown to me by the employees was another crucial something that got me hooked on the Jewelry Studio. That too is still remarkably preserved, and I feel it first-hand every day! For example, as I lingered in the Zoom room one evening this fall after an event had ended, studio director Jeff Georgantes taught me his tricks for cutting onions. Or over the summer, when I said I had an opportunity to start selling my jewelry at a local business but didn't know where to start, Case Hathaway-Zepeda called me right away and spent half an hour walking me through exactly what brands and materials to put in my online shopping cart so I could get to work without wasting my time with trial and error. No matter how difficult it can be to make meaningful bonds virtually, these last few terms have shown me that the people in charge at the Jewelry Studio will always go above and beyond to connect with their students.

All in all, while of course I miss the studios, I'm struck by how gracefully the things that made the Hop a home for me have been recreated virtually. This is a special place with a strong mission, and I'm incredibly grateful that that mission lives on even at my dining room table.