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We'd Like to Buy the Coach a Coke 

Jane Logan and Jackie Ortega are applying the fitness club model to the creative arts

Wednesday, Mar 9 2005
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In a recent conference call between local press and Warriors Executive Vice President Chris Mullin, the first question about the trade that brought star point guard Baron Davis to town came from Oakland Tribune writer Dave Del Grande. We've transcribed the first 30 seconds of the call below:

Mullin: "Just fire away. It's probably the easiest thing to do."

Del Grande: "Chris, Dave Del Grande here. Congratulations. I guess the first question I would ask is when the Hornets agreed to the deal, did you guys pop champagne?"

[Pause. Uncomfortable laughter from an unknown source.]

Mullin: "No, but we're very happy, Dave ... [A sound like newspaper being crumpled] ... no champagne, but, uh, we're very happy."

Which brings us to a restatement of Dog Bites' sports journalism rule No. 17: When interviewing a famously recovering alcoholic about basketball, it's generally considered good form to stick to hoops and steer clear of subjects such as, oh, say, booze. (Luke O'Brien)

Crafty Idea

Spinning classes can tighten glutes and punish flabby thighs. Gyms offer medicine balls, Nautilus machines, and even former military personnel to help tone abs. But what about those days when the only thing you want to chisel is a slab of marble, and the only endurance you seek to build is artistic?

On those days, you just hop on over to the Craft Gym, where Jane Logan and Jackie Ortega are applying the fitness club model to the creative arts. At the Craft Gym, a $54-a-month membership entitles patrons to unlimited use of the facility (during business hours, of course) and includes use of its equipment: sewing machines, saws, kilns, and a host of other machines, tools, and raw materials used in sewing, knitting, and ceramics, and working with metal, paper, and wood. The noncommittal can take advantage by purchasing an $18 day pass, knitting, sculpting, and jewelry-making to their hearts' content.

The idea of a Craft Gym started over drinks, when Logan and Ortega found themselves involved in a complex conversation regarding the difficulties of keeping a wide enough array of gift-wrap paper on hand to whip out thoughtful, customized wrap jobs on every gift-giving occasion. Embarrassed by the idea of turning into people who get so crazy about crafting that they devote whole rooms to wrapping paper, the ladies began brainstorming alternatives.

"Wouldn't it be great if you had this locker and you could put all your stuff in it?" Logan mused. Yes, lockers, they thought; lockers like you had in school, or sometimes at work, or better yet, at the gym -- and it was just then that it dawned upon Ortega and Logan that the system so many people use to crunch calories could be applied (or, ahem, appliquéd) to creativity-crunching.

Not fully operational yet, the Craft Gym operates out of a classroom bungalow on the playground of Daniel Webster Elementary School in Potrero Hill, yet still manages to offer a massive range of workshops.

Former product designers and graduates of Stanford University's joint master's program in design and mechanical engineering, Ortega and Logan are currently honing the concept of the Craft Gym.

Right now, in addition to open studio time, the Craft Gym offers instructor-led workshops for making lingerie, handbags, masks, lip balm, candles, chandelier earrings, stick ponies, and too many other items for Dog Bites to list without getting winded. You can even learn to etch engravings into beer pints.

If you're the kind of person who does that sort of thing.

Ortega and Logan have seen their fair share of patrons who, scarred by a home economics project gone horribly wrong, have taken decades to muster up the guts to revisit a potter's wheel. So they've made the workshops all but guarantee immediate results.

Students in the handbag class, for instance, leave with the handbag, not just the zipper and the strap. "We're taking art areas and making them into simple projects [that can be completed] in a short amount of time," Ortega says.

In May, when the elementary school closes for the summer, Ortega and Logan plan to have their own space ready. Eventually, they hope to franchise the concept to a crocheting nation that is just waiting for its lockers. (Tiffany Maleshefski)

About The Author

John Mecklin

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