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Best Homegrown Arts Organization 

The Crucible

Sure, plenty of places teach clay-sculpting, jewelry-making, and even woodworking. But where else can you learn fire-eating, blacksmithing, and stone-carving? Not to mention a youth workshop on how to create that favorite East Bay original, the Hyphy Bike? That's right: At the Crucible, kids learn how to use welding and acetylene torches to transform their fuddy-duddy old bikes into pimped-out high-fashion cruisers. Founded in Berkeley in 1999, the Crucible now occupies a massive West Oakland warehouse where it offers an eclectic range of classes in the fine and industrial arts. While its wildly popular annual Fire Arts Festival — an incendiary orgy of blazing performance, sculpture, and interactive installations — is taking 2010 off, look for the celebration to return next summer. Until then, a fire cabaret and fire opera will have to suffice as special events augmenting the usual unusual assortment of classes. To learn more about this homegrown, only-in-the-East-Bay institution, join one of the Crucible's free tours, which happen every Tuesday and Thursday evening.

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