Photo taken by Edgar Lee

There have been times I’ve seen the Crucible from the road, as I made my way to visit my dad. Last year, Creative Director, Michael Sturtz gave me and a few colleagues a tour through the space. Walking through in awe, I kept thinking about my dad and how he would be a kid in a candy store at the Crucible. My dad got his degree in mechanical engineering and I grew up with the mantra, “If something works, take it apart and find out why”.

Crucible takes that one step further in adding artistic and community components. The Crucible is a non-profit arts education center that fosters a collaboration of arts, industry and community by teaching and showcasing fire, metal, glass and light art. Founded in 1999, The Crucible offers more than 500 classes to nearly 5,000 students annually in disciplines such as bronze casting, neon art, welding, glass working, blacksmithing, fire dancing, textiles and woodworking. One of my favorite parts of the Crucible is the converted fire truck coined the Educational Response Vehicle that acts as a mobile classroom. It was brought out to the California Academy of Sciences for our NightLife World Ocean day celebration last June. Off the truck came blacksmithing, glass blowing and torch welding units. The fire cannon also welcomed guests at it belched out billows of fire into the night sky.

I was also very impressed with the strong community tie of the Crucible. They have a few tiers of a bike program for local west Oakland youth. Workshops are set up for kids to bring in their bikes to be fixed. Technicians explain what they are doing so the kids can get a better understanding of “how it works”. For those interested, there is a six-week Earn-A-Bike program where youth can learn more. They fix two bikes, one to keep and one to sell to raise funds for the program. Youth who want more after the six-week course can also enroll to create their own custom bike in by bringing in their own bike to re-create using more intermediate skills. The bike program has been the most popular community outreach program and continues to grow.

Last Friday, January 14 and Saturday, January 15, 2011 from 7PM-11PM, the Crucible had their 12th Anniversary Benefit show entitled, “The Crucible Revival; Keep the Fire Burning.” Proceeds went to support educational programs at the Crucible and the line up included a fabulous mix of performances, dance, fire and art. Performances focused on reviving beloved and specataular moments of Crucible history in tribute to Michael Strutz’s contributions in his tenure as founder and both Executive and Creative Director. More information on the line up and tickets can be found here. This Thursday, the Crucible comes out to NightLife to add the heat to the theme Fire and Ice.

Being in the Crucible space reminds me of sitting in the garage when I was young watching my dad work on something. The space is set up so people can take “how it works” and transforms it into knowledge, community, art and performance. It’s an inspiring place.

37.7699 -122.467174

How it Works at the Crucible 6 July,2011Cat



Cathleen (Cat) is the former Special Projects Manager at California Academy of Sciences and worked in the public programs division.
Before working at the Academy, Cat got her start as an intern at Lindsay Wildlife Museum for four years and worked with animals ranging from snakes and hawks to foxes and bobcats. She has a deep curiosity about the natural world and native California wildlife.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor