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Alyson Noel Swihart"Handbrewed Soaps was born when my husband and I joined our passions, his for brewing beer, mine for hand brewing soap" she also makes coffee, tea and wine soap. Photo by Alsanosi Adam

Oakland Cottage Industry Show brings craftspeople together to sell handmade art

on May 1, 2015

On May 2, the Oakland Cottage Industry Show (OCIS) is hosting the first of their twice-annual shows where artists who work with wood, iron, paint and jewelry will come together at Park Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Oakland.

The phrase “cottage industry” usually refers to a small-scale business carried on at home by a family or an individual using their own equipment and materials to produce a marketable product.

This year at the OCIS, the show will have number of artisans from Oakland including people who make jewelry, toys, wooden boxes, badges, clothing, gift envelopes, dishes, and other homemade products.

The idea is to encourage Oaklanders to get out of their homes and shop in their community. “Now, with technology, people are isolated in their homes,” says John Anderson, the group’s treasurer, referring to online shopping. But the show in Oakland is trying to “put the humanity back into the community,” he says.

The Oakland Cottage Industry Show started in 2012 when Alton Jelks, an Oakland woodworker who is the vice president of the group, started an initiative to create a space where artisans who work at home could find a way to take their work to the people in the streets. “It’s a way to recognize these artists,” said Jelks, “and a way to connect them with their community.”

“The first show was received very well,” said Kyra Quon, a jewelry artist who is the group’s president. The first show was in May, 2012, at the Park Boulevard Presbyterian Church in East Oakland. Since then, they have done 6 shows.

Although it started small, this year the show will have 30 artists to showcase different forms of cottage art. “These artists have other jobs,” said Jelks, but some are trying to make a living from their work “and we tend to support them on that.”

According to Jelks, OCIS is a non-profit organization that is open and free to the public, but for the artists who will be participating in the show, there is $40 fee to join the event and show their work. OCIS providse the space and the tables, name tags and lunch services for the artists. The group also helps the artists learn how to sell their work. “It’s a space for those who are trying to make a living out of this,” says Anderson. “We provide support in marketing and education on how to display their products.”

For more information about the show visit:


  1. Alyson Swihart on May 5, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Great article! The Oakland Cottage Industry Show is so fun!! Looking forward to the Hoilday show!!

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