Oakland’s New Mayor Rides in our Snail Art Car

“I think it’s a great symbol of Oakland,
our vitality, our creativity, our secret sauce”
– Libby Schaaf on the Golden Mean Snail Art Car 

Photo by D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group

Photo by D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group

It’s no surprise people are talking about Oakland’s new mayor, Libby Schaaf, but there’s one detail that seems to surprise everyone: her mayoral ride, the Golden Mean. Apparently most political figures don’t travel to their inauguration in a giant snail with flaming eye sockets.

Schaaf and I first connected during the 2013 Oakland mayoral race around West Oakland business. I agreed with Schaaf’s vision for an Oakland that supports artists, makers, and industrial businesses like mine. When she requested the Golden Mean make a campaign event appearance, I was happy to oblige.

When Schaaf won the election, we took a celebratory ride in the Golden Mean. But the greatest honor came with the last request: a ride for Schaaf and her family to her mayoral inauguration. The event was quintessential Oakland: held at the Paramount Theater, the mayor and her family arriving in the Golden Mean, Schaaf’s acceptance speech including “hella”, and protesters reminding everyone of issues to be addressed.

When we first built the Golden Mean in 2008, little did we know it would someday make Oakland history. Working on nights and weekends, the snail car my wife Kyrsten dreamed up was built by her, myself, and our Empire of Dirt crew of artist makers in my West Oakland Form & Reform shop. Since building Golden Mean we’ve made the Electrobite and Serpent Twins, but you’re less likely to see our mayor riding around in them, seeing as they’re not street legal.


Meet the Golden Mean Sunday, January 11, 2015

As part of Schaaf’s inaugural week, the Golden Mean Snail Art Car will soon make another appearance at the public event celebrating the great town of Oakland and it’s makers this Sunday, January 11. We hope you’ll join us for the “Made in Oakland” Inaugural Festival at American Steel in West Oakland from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Press with Libby Schaaf and the Golden Mean

SFGate / SF Chronicle – Libby Schaaf sworn in as Oakland’s 50th mayor
San Francisco Magazine – That Fire-Shooting Snail Car That Mayor Libby Schaaf Keeps Driving Around Oakland Is the Best Thing Ever
Inside Bay Area – Libby Schaaf sworn in as Oakland mayor
Laughing Squid – Oakland, California’s New Mayor Libby Schaaf Rides Snail Art Car To Her Inauguration

Election Victory Celebration
KQED – Video: Libby Schaaf Rides a Giant Mechanical Snail
SF Gate/ SF Chronicle – Libby Schaaf celebrates Oakland mayoral victory: “an awesome city”
SJ Mercury News / Oakland Tribune – Libby Schaaf celebrates decisive victory and ‘Oakland’s awesomeness’
CBS – Quan Concedes Oakland Mayor’s Race; Schaaf Celebrates In Fire-Breathing Snail Car

Golden Mean Snail Art Car
Facebook Fan Page
Instructable / how it was made
Blog: Golden Mean

Recent Golden Mean in Oakland
Popular Mechanics Video – How Oakland Is Becoming Northern California’s Next Great Startup Hub

“It’s hella time for Oakland.”
  – Libby Schaaf, inaugural speech

Blacksmithing Burning Man and Oakland

I got some great press at Huffington Post. Big thanks to Robin Wilkey for the story. I love that she printed what I said about Oakland. I really do hope Oakland get’s it right this time. I encourage you all to vote and take over this great city!

Jon Sarriugarte: Blacksmith And Burning Man Legend On The Playa And The Future Of Oakland


Rising up to the support

The Serpents are growing and taking shape everyday. Lots of wonderful friends and new faces showed up to help Sunday and lots got done. Still needing skilled volunteers. Contact me if you have skills in metal fabrication, general fabrication, LED knowledge, soldering, Flash animation of LEDs.  car stereo installation, sewing. For people with no workshop skills – be a gopher for hardware or food runs, help us organize and mail out rewards from our sure-to-be-successful kickstarter so we can keep moving forward… I’m sure I can think of more!

The kickstarter fundraiser is going well but we still need more than $4000 to get our funding! Please tell your friends, spam the world, pitch in a $25. Less than a week left and if we don’t fully fund we lose the $6000 we have already raised!

Pictures of our progress

past posts

The head begins to take shape. It looks incredible and I can’t wait to see it filled in with sheet metal.

Tansy and Kyrsten have been working hard to get the fins cut.

Me laying out the head on cardboard.

Stage Coach 2011

Stage Coach 2011

What hoot hanging out with the Front Porch at the hootenanny! Lots of great entertainment for the kids, main stage acts, homemade BBQ and minimal crowds.  This is the place to be. After hours we headed out into camping with the David Luning band and got quite a crowd! Line dancing, swing dancing and staggering cowboys wondering why this house kept moving.

More pictures

IDEO Party

IDEO Holiday Party in SF 2011

The Boiler Bar crew got a chance to show off our toys and bars at IDEO party this weekend. Great event and lots of great people. So fun to hang out with such creative people. Great costumes, and the sets they made for us were over the top! Events like these remind me why I moved to the bay area and stayed!  Hope to do more with the people I met last night.

My pictures

Kyrsten and Emily

You don’t have a giant Iron snail in your living room?

Electrobite Instructable

I made a new Instructable for the Electrobite

Please vote in the upper left corner of this link for our creation so we can win JOBY contest

You will have to vote here for the Craftsman contest for us to win $5000 in tools!

Click on view entries and I am on the 2nd page. only click vote and not on the picture or links.

Merry Christmas in Vallejo

Mad Hatter Holiday Vallejo 2010

Great fun to participate in a small town holiday parade! The town really appreciated us coming and everyone who approached us struggled for words and wanted to talk about how great it was to see art drive down their Main street. We will be back!

Sam Coniglio Pictures

Local Paper seemed more concern with how to explain why Santa was in in 3 places and road in on a Snail!

Handicraft Magazine Article “Steel Dreams”

Handicraft Magazine out of China did a story about my work.

Wish I could read it. Love the coloration they did to my pictures.

KSW Vintage Powered Industrial Art

Please Join me and the Golden Mean for a show and tell of wondrous creatures from present and past.

Vintage steam power, kinetic art, industrial art, and education, creatively connected!

Golden Mean “contribute very little to society at large”

Vice wrote a article about Burning Man.



Last month, for some reason, Vito Fun decided to make a pilgrimage to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to mingle with people who eschew contemporary hygiene practices, refer to smoking weed as “blazing,” and generally contribute very little to society at large. Somehow, Vito was able to get some nice photos out of the whole affair.

Photos by Vito Fun

Read the rest at Vice Magazine: Vice Magazine | Event & Party Photos


Haley Duke I was more offended by their boldness of, ‘and generally contribute very little to society at large.’ WTF do vicers do that’s so damn honorable?

Hoping to run into them soon.

jon sarriugarte's items Go to jon sarriugarte's photostream