“Forges roar, sparks fly, glass bends, neon glows, and creativity explodes!” This is the mantra and invocation of The Crucible, Oakland’s iconic fine and industrial arts center. Known for its collaborative, hands-on classes for all ages in blacksmithing, welding, glass blowing, fire dancing, and much more, The Crucible is a nexus for the vibrant local arts scene and a pillar of the maker community.
“The Crucible turns arts education upside down in some ways, because we don’t canonize it,” says Kristy Higares, The Crucible’s director of administration and strategic initiatives. “You just need to come and be willing to learn, and by collaborating with your fellow students and instructors, bold creativity happens naturally.”
Founded by Michael Sturtz in 1999, The Crucible and its cohort of maker-teachers have cultivated a mission that values bold creativity and arts access for all. Crucible classes and workshops draw youth and adults from all over the Bay Area and beyond for hands-on experience in everything from jewelry making to timber framing. Summer programs, youth leadership programs, team-building workshops, and fire ballet and fashion events add to the Crucible’s kaleidoscopic repertoire. Today, The Crucible is the nation’s largest nonprofit industrial arts center.
This year the East Bay Mini Maker Faire welcomes The Crucible back for another interactive suite of activities. “Our blacksmithing, foundry, and jewelry departments will all come out to the East Bay Maker Faire,” Kristy says. “Our foundry department will be offering a hands-on activity in aluminum sand casting, where visitors can design their own mold in sand, then watch as molten aluminum is poured from our Hello Kitty furnace into their molds. Visitors can also create a unique copper stamped charm or pendant with our jewelry department. For all the fire lovers, we will also bring our signature ‘fire poofers,’ providing explosions of fire for all curious passersby. The East Bay Mini Maker Faire is dear to our heart, as it happens in own backyard, and truly represents the intersection of our artistic communities.”