by Kristin Arzt

Woodworking instructor and Studio Renter David Page makes the great commute from Los Angeles to Oakland once a week to stay connected to The Crucible and his life here in Oakland. He has been involved at The Crucible since 2011, wearing every hat from CREATE Member to Volunteer, and is is an instructor in the Woodworking Department. David is infectiously positive and an artist who stays true to his creative vision. He notoriously breaks hearts by turning down commissions, reserving custom work strictly for friends and family. We sat down with him to find out exactly what keeps him coming up from Los Angeles every week.

You have quite the commute from LA!

I split my time between the East Bay and LA. My studio and shop are in LA, and I rent a studio at The Crucible. I work with West Contra Costa Unified School District, I’ve got ties in the community here at The Crucible, and I sing with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. That all keeps me anchored here. The Crucible has so many people with huge imaginations, thinking outside of the box. I find the LA artist community to be more precise and engineer-minded. The Crucible community fits better with me.

How did you find The Crucible?

I had creative withdrawal being away from my studio in LA. So in 2011, I took a Woodturning class here to get a feel for the space. The rest is history. Once I finished the class, I started off with the CREATE program. Then I volunteered to TA Woodturning classes for a few years, then I became an instructor.

What particular students have stood out to you?

I knew that I liked teaching, but I loved it even more when I came here. Mel, one of our summer camp volunteers, is one who helped drive it home. She was making a simple table top, but was initially petrified of using the machines in the wood shop. I showed her what she needed to do, and her table came out gorgeous. Mel got the bug, and it was powerful to see her finish her table after overcoming any fears about the equipment.

Two of my proudest moments have actually been at The Crucible this year. The first was Mel, and the second was last summer in the Youth Skateboard Building class. One of the students was ambitious in his project and was a bit panicked about not finishing. We worked together to get the board finished and at the end of class, he came and hugged me and thanked me. Those are actually my two happiest moments.

David with Mel, volunteer and CREATE Member.

Mel’s finished table.

Do you do a lot of commissions?

When people ask me about commissions, I tell them, “If you’re not a friend or family, the answer is ‘No.’ Ask me again—still ‘No.’ The next question is, “How do I become a family member?” I tell them, “Either marry my brother or become a member of The Crucible.” When Susan (The Crucible’s Executive Director) asked me to make the table, I agreed because The Crucible is my family.

Tell us about the table you made for Susan.

The table top is titled “Box Dreams.” It represents an artist’s process of creating beauty. The outer wood signifies the first barrier of creation, and as you get closer to the center, you meet the butterfly, which symbolizes the your final work. If you look closely, you will see that the butterfly is not centered, representative of how we stray from the norm at The Crucible. And when you really look at it, the butterfly is in a box, but the wing is just barely breaking out from the box. That represents how you can break out and the dream becomes a reality. To have it for Susan is special.

“Box Dreams” tabletop by David Page.

Susan Mernit’s finished table, made by David Page and Eric Blanpied, Woodworking Department Head.

What keeps you driving up from LA every week?

The sense of community. I can talk to any of the people here. If I have a question, they’ll answer it. If I have a problem, they’ll help. If I need something made, they’ll make it. There is no hesitation for anyone to help with any project, and I love that about The Crucible.

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