Handmade furniture, glasswork and art will be among the one-of-a-kind items on exhibition at the Glenview neighborhood's first Cottage Industry Show on May 11 in Oakland.

Close to 40 exhibitors are expected to display their wares at the show, which will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Park Boulevard Presbyterian Church, 4101 Park Blvd.

The show is the brainchild of a group of neighbors living in the Glenview district, led by Judith Garland, a woodworker, and Alton Jelks, who makes Craftsman-style furniture in the basement of his home. Another organizer is Kyra Quon, who makes jewelry.

"A few months ago we started meeting to discuss how there seem to be a growing number of folks who work out of their homes on so-called cottage industry projects and that these artisans represent a growing segment of Oakland's small-business community," said Jelks, who teaches public administration at Cal State East Bay and was a staffer to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris in the 1990s.

"These emerging businesses are widespread in Glenview and we believe are prevalent in other Oakland neighborhoods as well," Jelks said. "We see a need to acknowledge and support the efforts of these 'cottage industry' artisans, who tend to be hidden from view.

"We need to change that. so that is why we are putting on this showcase," he said.


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The organizers have been sharing the challenges they face, such as developing a customer base or getting a local store to show the products. "Taking out ads can be very expensive, for example," Jelks said.

Jelks moved to the Glenview in 1997 and soon came to appreciate the qualities of his 100-year-old Mission-style bungalow on Park Boulevard, which is the primary corridor that traverses the many nearby curving residential streets. Park, which descends from the hills down to the area just east of Lake Merritt, was once the route used by the 19th-century loggers transporting oxen carts loaded with redwood timbers to the estuary docks. Homes like the one Jelks owns were built in the post-1906 earthquake boom when new buyers flocked to Oakland.

"My neighborhood is very inspiring," Jelks said. "I can walk down any street and see an endless variety of these well-built homes, each the work of an independent builder/contractor in many cases. You don't see that kind of individuality in subdivisions built today.

"This is one reason why I believe restoring and preserving is so important."

Jelks started taking woodworking classes at Laney College while working as an administrator for the Peralta Community College District.

"I took it on a lark and was surprised to see how quickly one could get up to speed," Jelks said. "It's a tremendous program with great instructors. You can develop lifelong skills that you can use regardless of what else you do in life."

For more about the upcoming Glenview Cottage Industry Show, contact Alton Jelks at ajelks@sbcglobal.net or 510-282-2189.

Next time: An Oakland playwright is producing an original play about the Pullman porters of West Oakland. Also, free walking tours begin again May 1. For details, go to www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours.