Usual disclaimer, I have no relationship to the Crucible, just
wanted to write about a great class I took a couple of weeks ago in
the SF Bay Area. The non-profit Crucible recently moved from
Berkeley, California to a 48,000 square foot warehouse in Oakland.
Since they they appear to have doubled or tripled their course
offerings. Their courses cover anything which can remotely be
considered a “fire art” (the Crucible is extensively involved in the
yearly Labor Day Burning Man festival at Black Rock Desert in
Nevada) and includes a substantial jewelry program in addition to
blacksmithing, welding, neon, glass, and so on.
The class I took was “guerilla casting” with Mike Binnion, and it
covered cuttlefish casting (something I’d always wanted to do), lost
wax casting, and Delft clay casting, which I ended liking a great
deal because of its adaptability to a small studio. The class,
though small, had a diverse group of students, including two
non-jewelry science fiction convention costumers who taught us about
RTV molds from TAP Plastics and generally sparked everybody’s
thinking. Next time I do PMC I’m tossing out the Bellicold.
Not only was the class excellent, but the environment was very
entertaining. At one point on a foray to the bathroom I passed a very
striking woman with black hair and a dancer’s red dress, and wondered
briefly why the heck she was wearing that to an art class. On the
way back from the bathroom, I got my answer – she was teaching a
class in fire eating to four anxious and less glamorously-attired
students. It was amazing to watch. And then there’s the huge metal
sculpture that hovers up near the roof of the warehouse, a flying
alien dragonfly of enormous wingspan with a great green glass dome in
its breast and a long, arching stinger that ends in – a TV. A
working TV, positioned much closer to eye level so that they can
play videos for classes.
Although the Crucible’s location requires one to take care, a few
blocks away is Oakland Chinatown, where (if you can find parking)
there is a limitless supply of yummy, cheap food for lunch. You’ve
gotta love it.