His business hangs on a wire

Craftsman Eduardo Oliva creates gold- and silver-wire jewelry that spells out customers' names at O.C. Fair.

July 27, 2011|By Britney Barnes,
  • Eduardo Oliva shows off his handmade bracelets at his booth, Creative Wire Crafts, his wife Julia and him run during the O.C. Fair Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Oliva bends and twists wire into people's names on rings, bracelets and necklaces. He has been creating his personalized wire jewelry for 30 years, 16 of those years at the O.C. Fair.
Eduardo Oliva shows off his handmade bracelets at his… (Kevin Chang, Daily…)

COSTA MESA — The O.C. Fair is a chaotic mass of blaring music, thrilling rides, larger-than-life stuffed animals and deep-fried ecstasy.

But after passing the foot-long corn dogs and dodging the chocolate-covered bacon, there is an area where the intensity eases to the speed of window shopping.

That is were Eduardo Oliva, 68, can be found.

It isn't Eduardo who catches the eye of fairgoers; he is a slight man with a weathered face. The soft-spoken Eduardo has an intensity for his craft that could make customers wanting his attention think they are being intentionally ignored.

Rather, customers are drawn to the products of his skills — the delicate-looking gold- and silver-wire necklaces, bracelets, rings and pins that intricately spell out a name — that are displayed within the glass cases at his booth in the crafter's village.

The booth, Creative Wire Crafts, also sells generic silver rings and charm bracelets, customizable ID tags and trendy feather hair clips, but if you ask Eduardo about them, he just waves a dismissive hand.


"It's not our business," he said.

His business — or passion, although Eduardo never used the word — is the personalized wire jewelry.

"I like to do it," he said. "I love to do this kind of thing."

Eduardo has been selling his jewelry at the O.C. Fair for 16 years, but has been working the fair circuit for the last 30.

At one point, he sold his wares at fairs as far away as Minnesota and Wisconsin, but now the Pasadena resident and his wife, Julia, 60, keep to Southern California.

The two, who married 40 years ago, run the show together. Eduardo makes the jewelry and Julia sells it, occasionally getting help from their two daughters or other relations. They keep it inside the family.

The hours are long and run throughout the summer months, but fellow vendors become like family and returning customers reaffirm Eduardo's pride in his work.

Customers also like to watch him work.

"I feel good when people enjoy my jewelry," he said. "It's something forever and unique."

Julia said the two make a good living — OK, Eduardo added, but said he gets enjoyment out of making something unique that will last forever.

The tradition of making the jewelry started with Eduardo's father in Mexico City. Hazy on the details, his father picked up the craft later in life and shared it with his three sons after becoming accomplished. Eduardo said he wanted to learn, and Julia chimed in.

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