Students experience the therapeutic effects of art as Finals Week draws closer


The owner of Cra-Cra Crafts, Tanya Paul, was at EWU on March 8 for her wooden palette class. Paul has been crafting for about two and a half years | Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

EWU students are feeling the stress as the winter quarter comes to a close.

For some, it is drowning in tidal-wave amounts of papers to write and assignments to turn in. For others, it is gluing noses to textbooks trying to soak in every last bit of information, inhaling the smell of the teardrops that stain the pages beneath them.  

Either way, “Dead Week,” the week before finals week, almost takes on a literal meaning to a lot of students.

Experienced college students have many strategies to alleviate (or work through) the tensions that come with the next week-and-a-half. These might include consuming copious amounts of caffeine, or turning to other potentially harmful coping mechanisms.

Crafter Tanya Paul has an alternative method, though, that could help college students survive “Dead Week” and finals week with less long-term damaging effects.

Paul, the owner of Cra-Cra Crafts in Spokane, realized the power of crafting about two and a half years ago when she was a Moms of Preschoolers (MOPs) member as the head crafting person.

It took some playing around and experimenting to master the wooden palettes she creates today. With all of her home-assembled wooden palettes and over 700 stencil designs in her computer, Paul eventually began selling her work.

“That Christmas I ended up selling a handful of them,” said Paul. “I ended up selling 30 signs in 24 hours, and through that I discovered that there’s a little bit of a niche for this.”

Paul eventually got connected with an antique shop in the Spokane Valley and started teaching crafting lessons. She has taught a couple hundred classes since then.

Late at night Thursday, March 8 in Tawanka, Paul hosted EWU’s annual “Art in the Dark” event that gathered students in all forms of stressed-out for a couple hours of fun, creativity and most importantly a much-needed break from the week.

Participants were taught how to make wooden palette signs with stained backgrounds and painted Pinterest-inspired quotes and messages, much like the signs one would stop to read in a craft-store, or hanging on the walls of a living room.

Paul used her expertise to share the rewarding effects that art and crafting can bring to students.

“It’s satisfying to be able to start and finish something,” said Paul. “That’s why I think people love this so much, is you come to a class and you have nothing and you leave with this beautiful thing that you created.”

Art and crafting can be an effective form of therapy for college students who are feeling the pressures of school, according to Paul.

“I feel like craft therapy is a real thing,” said Paul. “For me, crafting helps me release stress and it helps me detox from life and helps me let go and let my creative juices fly.”

As Finals Week approaches, many students participating in the event seemed to have very similar experiences.