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Sparks, flames and dreams: A day at the Crucible

on September 13, 2009

The Crucible, an industrial and creative arts center in the heart of West Oakland, opened its doors and welcomed the public to its open house demonstrations and workshops Saturday.

Starting September 26, the Crucible will offer a wide variety of fall classes, covering everything from glassblowing to blacksmithing. The open house gave the curious a chance to sample the Crucible’s creative and educational offerings, and visit the booths of two dozen community groups, including People’s Grocery, Bay Area Classical Harmonies, Youth Employment Partnership and Trapeze Arts.

Crucible artist David Linnard said the open house gives prospective students a chance to talk directly to instructors. “You find out things that aren’t necessarily in the written brochures or the web,” he said. “You might look through the brochures and think, ‘Well, I can’t do that.’ But in practicality, with the right instruction and the right equipment, you can do that – you just don’t realize it.”

Sparks fly, fifty-pound turtles are forged, and ordinary fourteen year-old boys do extraordinary work with torches in The Crucible’s welding shop.  Nathan Kastner, 14, of Richmond, CA, has been taking classes at The Crucible for the past two summers and says he plans to stick with it. In addition to the technical skills he’s picking up, Nathan says he enjoys his time at The Crucible because “it’s like a family here.”

One of the workshops offered by The Crucible at the Fall open house let kids create their own aluminum prints. Lukas, Niklas, and Thomas Chang were a few of the many children who made their own pieces.

An art career seemed an unreachable goal to Tara Murray for years before she took her first class in glass flame-working at The Crucible.  After bouncing around office jobs that she made her “miserable,” Murray started volunteering at The Crucible in their youth art program.  That position, taken because she had lost her most recent office job, brought to fruition her lifelong dream of being an artist.    “I was raised to think art wasn’t a real job,” said Murray, “that I’d be a failure if I tried it.  Then I decided, ‘I’m just going to follow what I love.'”

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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