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‘Underground Tufting’ Brings Custom Do-It-Yourself Rugs To Downtown State College

Penn State student Sichen Shao has always been a do-it-yourself kind of guy.

After taking a trip with his friends to a tufting studio in New York City at the end of 2019, he knew it was something that the State College community would love. Flash forward three years later, and Underground Tufting is officially a reality.

Located at 204 W College Ave., next to the 2000 Degrees pottery store, the studio shares its space with Icy Karaoke.

Three of Shao’s friends also help run the new establishment. Xinlan Li, Chien-sing Suen, and Jingsheng Zhang all share an equal dedication to the storefront.

“I would say for all of us, we are all passionate about doing it,” Shao said. “We put a lot of time and effort into doing this.”

All four are international students from China with no prior business experience, so Underground Tufting was a massive undertaking for them.

The group expressed how many people don’t have experience making something from start to finish with their hands, and Underground Tufting could be their first opportunity to do so.

The studio is set up to make shag rugs of any design of your choosing. It’s a space full of creativity and allows free range for almost any idea. Projects can range from wall art to carpets or even making a frame for a mirror.

First, you sketch out the design onto canvas via projector and then take it over to the tufting gun to start threading your carpet. After you finish, one of the founders will trim it, cut it out, and then glue it on the waterproof base.

Shao also suggested that those who don’t want to spend their time physically making the rug themselves can request a design and pick it up at their convenience once it is completed.

“We don’t provide just the experience for the customer but sell them as individual art pieces,” said Shao. “We customize them and make the rug for the customer.”

The group is even looking into selling items other than the rugs, such as fluid bear keychains and figures.

Underground Tufting is also focused on keeping its prices affordable for both families and college students to allow anyone to participate.

The studio is usually open from 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and all day on the weekends. The tufting process can take up to a few hours, so Underground Tufting suggests making an appointment by messaging the studio on Instagram.

Shao has high hopes for the business and hopes it continues to grow.

“I don’t know how far it’s gonna go, but I hope it gets big and everyone knows about it,” he said.

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a sophomore staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music and counting down the days until she gets to see Luke Combs at the Linc. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected]

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