On the hunt for one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season?
Your search could begin and end this weekend at an Oakland industrial arts school’s annual fair, where dozens of area artisans will be showcasing and selling their handiwork, ranging from the functional to the edible.
For the 23rd consecutive year, The Crucible will host its GIFTY craft show and open house on Saturday and Sunday at its warehouse near the West Oakland BART station.
Shopping’s not the only activity on the menu, either: Attendees can watch the school’s teachers demonstrating their skills, which will include using a wood lathe to shape the medium into objects like bowls and table legs as well as wielding a torch to bend hollow glass into forms that can be illuminated with neon gas.
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Visitors also are invited to take part in paid and no-cost hands-on activities, as well as to receive $25 off every class The Crucible offers.
The nonprofit has lined up about 70 entrepreneurs, who will be selling everything from leather bags, rare teas and candles that crackle like a wood fire to jewelry boxes fashioned into the shapes of animals.
The smorgasbord of creativity also features hand-sewn quilted table runners, glass, wooden and paper jewelry, clothes with hand-stamped designs, ceramic planters, wooden puzzles and exotic soaps.
“It’s just a really inspiring representation of our community of artists,” said Natasha von Kaenel, The Crucible’s director of marketing and e-commerce.
What won’t be readily apparent to the public is the helping hand that a San Francisco-based mobile payment company provided to support artisans who are struggling to make ends meet and those who belong to racial minorities in selling their wares.
Square Inc. granted The Crucible’s request for a $5,000 scholarship fund, enabling the organization for the first time to waive all or part of vendors’ booth fees, a gift that is benefiting 43 small businesses at this weekend’s show.
Take 27-year-old Oakland resident Brandyn Willridge, a welding instructor at The Crucible who also works during his off-time transforming recycled metal into sculptures — snapping turtles, flamingos, swans, flowers.
“It was amazing,” he said of the nearly full scholarship he received, noting that over the past nearly two years COVID has blocked access to venues where he could have sold his sculptures. “I was so happy for this opportunity.”
And then there’s Kim Yang, 39, a former psychiatrist who did a 180-degree pivot in her career several years ago and now makes her living as a chocolatier.
The Emeryville resident launched Formosa Chocolates in late 2019 only to have COVID wreak havoc with public events like the four she registered ― and paid ― for last year to show off her bonbons, marzipan and candied ginger dipped in chocolate. All were canceled, and Yang took a hit when only one of the organizers issued her a partial refund.
But she soldiered on, and this year received a partial scholarship to ease the sting as she makes her second appearance at GIFTY.
Yang sounded as enthusiastic about the chance to chat with passersby as actually selling her delicacies.
“It’s really lovely to connect with people again,” she said.
The Crucible’s GIFTY takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at 1260 Seventh St., Oakland. Admission is free. Everyone older than 12 must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test for COVID-19 within the previous 72 hours. Masks also are mandatory except in areas designated for eating and drinking. For more information, visit https://www.thecrucible.org/event/gifty-2021/.