In San Francisco's most maligned neighborhood, one local artist is turning the dark brown, needle-laden soil into something much more delicate: usable teacups and earthy dishware.

Artist and 30-something Mission resident Ilana Crispi created the dainty items as a way to have an "exploration of place that goes beyond the temporary stigma," as she told the Atlantic's John Metcalfe.

To find her dirt, Crispi actually waded into the soil at Boeddeker Park at Ellis and Taylor Streets — a park the Project for Public Spaces has listed on its Hall of Shame due to its "hopeless" condition as a haven for drug dealers. The park is currently undergoing a major renovation to address some of these problems, but Crispi says she still had to clear out the used needles and wear protective gear while on the job. The city was apparently "perplexed but encouraging," about her project.

Here's Crispi showing off her process, which combines the dark brown, almost black dirt with fine porcelain:

While the idea has caused some to gag at the thought, last night's opening of Crispi's show "Tenderloin Dirt Harvest: Please be seated on the ground," invited visitors to drink tea from Tenderloin teacups, eat salad from Tenderloin salad bowls and have a seat on a bench made from Tenderloin soil. Although it may seem brave, it's really more of a psychological freak out: the firing process for the ceramics eliminates any potential nastiness lingering in the dirt.

The gallery at 628 Jones is open Saturday's & Sunday's Noon - 4 p.m. and the first Thursday of the month from 6 - 9 p.m.

[The Atlantic Cities]