The Crucible bills itself as “A Nonprofit Collaboration of Arts, Industry and Community” – basically it’s a metalshop, a woodshop, a glassblowing studio, a ceramics studio, a dance studio, bike repair shop, and just about every creative industrial art you can imagine. Housed in a warehouse of I-can’t-even-approximate how many square feet (I just looked online, it’s 47,000 square feet!), the Crucible’s current digs are substantial to say the least. What’s also substantial is that they launched in 1999 with a grant of only $1,750, and even when they moved into these current digs (in 2003), they only had 5 full-time staff – they’re largely volunteer ran and supported.

[complete photo set on my Flickr]

Following my tour of Sonoma County (Sebastopol, Occidental and Monte Rio), I hitched a ride with Sheena from the Maker Faire team who was conveniently taking a class on Saturday morning at the Crucible – this facility was already on my docket of places to see during this West Coast excursion, ever since having met Kier (below) briefly at the Maker Faire Bay Area 2010 when he was running the Crucible’s fire engine and industrial arts demos for that event. Sheena went off to her class and I gave myself a self-guided tour of the Crucible’s facilities.

I gave two laps around the facility and introduced myself to as many staffers as possible. There’s more equipment and facility here than I could fathom to learn, which is remarkable that it’s all made available to the public through classes, workshops and even internships. In short, it’s an absolutely wonderful place and if you ever get a chance I highly recommend taking a class there and supporting their mission. Now, on with the photos!

The Crucible from above; this is only about 1/12th of the available floorspace and workshop area.

This is Kier giving me the low-down on the Crucible; you can’t see it but behind him is a giant flame and kiln which he’s warming up for a glass workshop later in the day (photo of the flame at the end!).

Woodshop including lots of hand tools, benches, wood-turning machines, saws, so much more!

death box – only one crossbone, nice!

the welding pods – the red plastic panels make it so you can watch people from outside; or to protect you when you accidentally glance over that is!

Machine or Art?

Bike repair studio – including lots of frames and bike projects.

Gas! Lots and lots of compressed gases power this place.

Jennifer at the reception desk, crocheting with brass wire.

The giant glass kiln flame, warming up for the workshop later in the day. Kier told me this thing also helps keep the Crucible warm in the winter – when it gets down to a chilly 50F in Oakland! Hah!