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Last summer, a good friend suggested that I purchase a band saw. He said it would help my efficiency in the studio because I wouldn’t be using my jeweler’s saw to do some of the more tedious tasks associated with jewelry making. It made a lot of sense to me so I started to do some research. After a lot of comparison shopping through Harbor Freight, Lowes, Home Depot, Sears and more, I decided on this Mini-Band Saw from Micro Mark.

Once it arrived and I started using it, I found many applications where it saved me a tremendous amount of time and effort over sawing by hand. If you visit Micro Mark’s product page, you can see all its options plus watch a video of it in use. As an added bonus, it is currently on sale for $275.55.  No I don’t get any type of a rebate for referring you to this; it’s just a happy circumstance that I chose to write about this today.

If you opt for adding a band saw to your tool arsenal, whatever make/model you choose, you will need to secure it to a bench for safety and stability. I have mine screwed down to the top of my Black & Decker Workmate. This is a powerful machine. Respect that there is a blade moving that can easily cut through your fingers like it does steel. Eliminate all distractions while you are operating equipment like this as your focus needs to be on what you are doing. Always wear ear & eye protection when operating. It has a vent where you can hook up a shop vac to collect any of the dust from cutting. I use a 5 gallon shop vac with it, which allows me to avoid wearing dust masks. However, I’m sure some would argue that I should wear the dust mask while using it too. I agree you can never be too safe when it comes to your personal protection when operating electronic equipment.

I would also add as a caution that if you have visitors in your workspace or children, always disable the power source to this machine when it is not in use. My philosophy is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and heart break. If there is a way to avoid injury, find it and use it.

As I lubricant for the blade, I use Brownpolymer that I purchased through Enjen Joes Products out of Fulton, NY. This stuff is great and you only need a very small amount.  I tend to use it on the blade before I start and also apply it along the line on the metal where I will be cutting. A little goes a long way. Really any blade lubricant you have will work. I had read some positive comments about this Brownpolymer product, so I wanted to try it and I’m glad I did.

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Here are some examples of metals I have cut with this. Steel, brass, copper, silver, square steel rod for tools. The specs on Micro Marks site tell you its cutting capacities for a specific material.

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You can purchase additional accessories. The rip fence is very useful for maintaining straight cuts. I also got extra blades with different teeth per inch (TPI) for use with a variety of materials.

I do love my tools. The purchase of a Mini-Bandsaw has been a great investment for my studio. I can avoid some of the mundane sawing I use to do and spend more time doing some of the hand crafting of a piece where that effort pays off in the way a finished item looks and feels. Well worth the money in my mind.

If you are considering a bandsaw, I recommend doing your homework and finding a model that will work for your needs. I am more than satisfied with this powerful and mighty mini bandsaw.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

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Several weeks ago I attended the opening reception for the first Chasing and Repousse Exhibition at Outnumbered Gallery in Littleton, CO. One of my cuffs, The Mighty Oak, is a part of this exhibit that will run through July 18th.  I had a chance to meet with artists I have never met before, along with some I know.

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The Might Oak – Botanical Series

One of the great things about events like this is the chance to discuss the work. Artist to artist. Their work and mine. Fascinating. Several artists gave me some advice and I am discovering it is some of the best advice I have ever received. As a result, I wanted to share because it is my belief that I have a responsibility to play it forward for all the help I continue to receive as I work to advance my career as an artist.

Tip number 1. Spend five minutes a day at your bench. This nugget of advice came from Henry Spencer. The recommendation, in its simplicity, is profound. He asked me to think about it. It may sound easy, he said, but it is hard. What can come from those five minutes can be an hour and a half of new work or nothing more than staring at the top of the bench. The point is, something wonderful may happen if you commit to spending that time every day. The insight for me is that need to be in my creative sanctuary every day. Something will happen. I can tell you that I have started to do this and it is very productive.

This was the first time I had met Henry. He is very open and engaging. He has being doing chasing and repousse for 40 years and refers to himself as a hippie metalsmith from the 70’s. All of this is said with quite the twinkle in his eye. I can tell you there is nothing understated about his work. Take a few moments to visit his website. I think you will understand why I have taken his advice to heart. He is smart as a fox and then some.

Tip number 2. Make your own tools. Nancy Meli Walker told me this is a must as I continue with chasing and repousse. She showed me a few of her tools that she created for textures.  She pointed out that one of the ways to make your work stand out is to have your own specialized textures. I saw that in Henry’s work and hers, along with others who were in the exhibit. It made perfect sense and there are textures I have envisioned for my own work, but didn’t have the tools to create them. Fortunately, I took a couple of workshops last year and each teacher showed us how to make our own tools. Now it does pain me to admit I was not all that enamored with the idea of making tools. However, inspired by Nancy’s revelation to me, I am thrilled that I know how. Now I am ready to embrace it!

Nancy’s work is so graceful and refined. She has a wonderful sense of humor. Another engaging spirit who is so very endearing. I am very appreciative of her advice.

Hopefully this helps to explain my photo at the top of this post. I have steel rods for making my own texture tools, along with some copper and steel sheets that will be part of my evolution as I work to improve my skills. The copper sheet will become a reference for textures. I’m taking part in a challenge to create sample textures. I will be creating some tools for the new textures I plan to use in my work. The steel will become new works, fused gold to steel, that will be formed into cuffs, pendants, rings, and earrings….all will have the new textures.

I am very grateful to Henry and Nancy for being so open and giving. Maybe they saw something in my work and felt they wanted to help me to grow? Whatever the case, I am thankful.

My husband, Dan, will help document what I am working on and I will post his videos of me working. I am very excited about the possibilities.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

 

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One of my happy places

June’s topic for the Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is post ONE picture of your happy place.

This is in my studio space. My bench looks like an explosion hit because I have been in a serious creative mode. Now I could have tidied it up for this post, but that wouldn’t give you the ‘realistic’ picture, so I thought “What the heck? I’m happy in this space so I will share.”

There’s lots of natural light with a great view of our back yard. I can watch the bassets play when they aren’t keeping me company in the studio. I can pause and watch the weather. When I enter this space, I feel a calm, soothing effect; Zen moments where I can relax and be at peace. Priceless.

Now let’s see what my fellow bloggers have posted on this fun topic.

Andes Cruz
angelojones
Beth Cyr
Allegra Sleep

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person

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The Mighty Oak
Botanical SeriesKathleen Krucoff
All photography by Daniel Krucoff

This is my accepted entry in the first International Chasing & Repousse Exhibition to be held at Outnumbered Gallery in Littleton, Colorado.

The opening reception will be Friday, June 5th from 5:00 – 9:00 PM during Littleton’s First Friday.  The exhibit runs from June 5 – July 18th.

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Detail view of The Mighty Oak

I am truly honored and humbled that this piece was one of the selected works.  There were over 140 artists who applied and I am one of 29 that were selected for the exhibit.

For this cuff, it is the first time I elected to use the Japanese metal alloy, Shibuichi. This material is a blend of copper and silver. Working this metal created a warm undertone that I felt accentuated my design and the details. It has been my most challenging piece to create to date. I like to stretch and grow as an artist, which is why I believe it is so important to try new things and keep striving to become better.

Il Maestro Fabrizio Acquafresca and another remarkable artist, Nancy Melie Walker, will be in attendance on the evening of the opening reception, demonstrating the ancient art of Chasing & Repousse. Talk about magical.

All of the displayed work will be available for purchase. As an added bonus, Fabrizio will have cuffs from his Butterfly Collection that can be purchased. If you have admired his work or are just discovering it, this is a wonderful opportunity to become a collector of some of his finest creations.
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If you live in Denver or the surrounding area, I do hope that you can join me with my husband, Dan, at the opening reception. There will be many talented artists happy to discuss their work with you.  Remember that the exhibit runs through July 18th, if you are unable to attend the opening. I would say this is one of those must see events of the summer.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

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The topic for May’s Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is “Share with us a little window in to your space/life/home.”  Right now, I am in the process of clearing and de-cluttering. When this topic came up for May, I thought how in the world can a share a glimpse into my life as it is in a state of upheaval?  Rather than show any of the ‘before’ photos, I thought I could share the very special bond and relationship I share with our basset hounds. Always there. Always providing a tail wag and more. They truly are the clowns of the dog world and I love our pack.  Their companionship is a constant in my life.  I’m going to let the pictures do the talking for me, with a few subtitles.

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Me with our first basset, Bueller.

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Puppy Thorin with a sister in the background.

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Full grown Thorin.

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Me with puppy Bueller.

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Snow bassets.

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Bueller around 1 year.

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Matriarch Nocturne with Newton and Quorra

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Younger days, me with Bueller and Nocturne

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Play time

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Newton’s portrait

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A great pack

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Today’s pack

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Newton and Quorra

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Newton and Thorin

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The one and only Thorin! 

My love for these wonderful dogs is only surpassed by my love for Dan and for our God.

Now let’s see what my fellow bloggers shared:

Tosca Teran aka nanopod: : http://nanopod.me/2015/05/20/window-space/

marie bell :: http://www.pencilfox.com/2015/05/may-blog-o-sphere-think-tank-sharing.html

Andes Cruzhttps://andescruz.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/spaces/

Pallavi Gandhihttps://studioat605.wordpress.com/

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Where:  Santa Fe Trail Jewelry

215 Chapala Plaza, Monument CO 80132
719.481.0250

When:  Saturday, May 9, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Marylee Reisig, owner of Santa Fe Trail Jewelry, will be hosting my Mother’s Day Trunk Show.  This is one of my favorite venues.

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This beautiful stone became the inspiration for one of my cuffs.  Hopefully I have peaked your curiosity because the cuff will debut at the show tomorrow.

Recently I discovered a New Zealand glass artist, Lesley McIver.  I just fell in love with her take on sea glass with traces of silver.  I’ve incorporated her work in mine to make these simple, yet elegant earrings.  I will have a nice variety in different colors and shapes.

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There will be plenty of Treescapes.

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Enjoy the freedom to Express Yourself with some of these.

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Lots of possibilities for that special person in your life and maybe even for you!  I hope you can attend.  If you are unable to make the show and see something here that interests you, please inquire via email.

Thank you for your continued interest in my work.

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As a follow up to the last segment of Talkin’ Tools, I thought it would be important to discuss a few of the pitches I use.

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Pitch is the material that is used to support your metal as you move it into the shape of your designs using the Chasing and Repousse technique.

It comes in three consistencies: soft, medium and hard.  There are a number of commercial pitches available.  I have only used three types pictured at the top of this post:

  1. A special blend black virgin tar, made only by Il Maestro Fabrizio Acquafresca
  2. German red pitch
  3. Green pine rosin based pitch by Debra Montgomery

As I explored the different pitches available, I found the standard German black and red through retailers like Rio Grande, Otto Frie, Metalliferous and others.  As I like to say, Google is your friend when searching for materials and tools.  Some are what I refer to as ‘special blends’ created by teachers like Il Maestro Acquafresca, Debra Montgomery, and others.  I have discovered, as with most things I have learned, I tend to favor what I used in a workshop setting…..however……read to the end and find a surprising turn…..

Unfortunately, the black tar blend I used in Fabrizio’s workshop is only available through Fabrizio.  The only reason I prefaced that with “unfortunately” is because you can obtain this through him via his workshops (limited number in the US per year) and I think he may ship it to you, but it is heavy and international shipping….well, not much fun for this.  On the bright side, I have been told and so far it has been my experience that with proper care, your pitch can last a lifetime.  I think it is my personality to find alternatives along with being curious about others, so I decided to explore what might be available.

For the work I do, I have found a medium consistency to be a good, all around pitch.

So let’s get started.

Fabrizio’s special virgin tar pitch.  One of my favorites, because this is the pitch I used in Fabrizio’s workshop.  As you would expect, it has a very STRONG tar smell when heated.  Proper ventilation is very important.  My ideal is to heat and burn off this pitch outside given my studio set up.  However, living in Colorado, that is not always a practical option for me, which is another reason why I have explored and used other pitches.

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Safety is of primary concern when using any pitch.  I wear these gloves anytime I work with this pitch or any of the other ones.  The picture shows the front and back of the gloves.  The dotted pattern is the palm side.  I think they are garden gloves that you can find at Walmart, Home Depot or Lowes….other places too.  They appear to be a heavy cotton canvas with some type of rubbery dots on the majority of the surface.  The important thing here is that you need to wear some form of hand protection when you heat ANY pitch.  It will literally burn your skin off if you touch it when it is in its most liquid state.  Fabrizio was extremely adamant and strong with his warnings about heated pitch.  I too feel it is that important to stress the need for extreme care and caution when working with any of these pitch materials.

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Moving metal in this black pitch is wonderful. As with any of the pitches, you have to wait til it has returned to the right temperature before you begin your work. Fabrizio recommended testing for proper work temperature by placing the back of your fingers lightly against the metal seated in the pitch. If it is warm but not hot enough to make you want to move your hand, you are good to go. I have found an exception to this rule when working with the green pitch, which I will discuss in a bit.

If you have the opportunity to take one of Fabrizio’s workshops, buy the kit (which includes the pitch block that sits on a plywood base), purchase his chasing tools….including the small set and see if you can buy an extra pitch block.  Generally he only has what is needed for each student in the workshop.  However, if you can get a message to him through the facility where the class is held, do so and see if you can acquire an extra pitch block as a back up.  Just be prepared that you need excellent ventilation when you work with it and there’s just no getting around that tar smell.  Great workshop, awesome instructor, wonderful concepts and techniques, coupled with the tools of the trade that he has worked with and created over 30+ years.

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Red German Pitch.  This is a really nice, all around medium consistency.  I got this through Rio Grande.  It comes in a ‘brick’ that you have to break up and place in the pitch bowl to heat in your oven at a low temperature.  Rio recommends heating slowly, 250 – 300 degrees F.  It is one of the few pitches that you can put in your oven to melt the pitch in the bowl for the first time.  The bowl is cast iron, manufactured by Grobet.  If you can find a Grobet pitch bowl, don’t hesitate to buy it.  Wonderful quality.

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The red pitch has a very mild aroma when heated.  You don’t have to burn off the residue from your work, but I have when it doesn’t respond well to being removed by acetone.  It is not as malleable as Fabrizio’s black or Debra’s green pitches.  However, the ease of accessibility and less noxious fumes makes it a great pitch.  I am certain if I had not learned the technique in Fabrizio’s workshop, I would be very happy working with this pitch.

Debra Montgomery’s Green Pitch.  I discovered this pitch through Nancy L T Hamilton’s blog.  I LOVE this pitch.  Debra makes it using a pine rosin.  It is so environmentally friendly, coupled with being great for moving metal.  I cannot say enough good things about this pitch.

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Now you cannot heat this green pitch in the oven.  Debra provides tons of information with the instructions, along with plenty of details on her Chasers-Pitch website.  And if you have some questions, send an email and she gets back to you right away!

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This pitch comes in chunks so I didn’t find a need to break it up for heating it in the pitch bowl.

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This is the pitch bowl (cast iron pie plate) that I purchased for the green pitch.  I found this at an online company, Wasserstrom Restaurant Supplies.  That link will take you directly to the pie plate I purchased.  You can also look for cast iron plates at thrift shops, Walmart or other online stores like I did.  The reason I got this plate is  I couldn’t find the nice Grobet pitch bowl any more.  Debra does recommend that you make some modifications if you use something like this as your pitch bowl.  I did try to weld the bar, as recommended, for this new bowl, but I wasn’t successful.  So far, I have not experienced any issues with the pitch pulling away from the sides, so maybe this bowl is shallow enough to not have the problem.

Again, since you cannot heat this green pitch in the oven, rather than using my torch, I used a hot plate I have in the studio.  Please, please, please remember that anytime you take a kitchen item into the studio (the hot plate in this case), that becomes its new permanent home.  You cannot safely return those items back to the kitchen for use in  food preparation again.

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I kept a careful eye on this and it melted quickly.

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I have a heat safe surface adjacent to this so with the gloves and potholders I moved the pitch to that area to cool down.  You can work material in this pitch at a slightly warmer temperature than normal.  I still use the back of my fingers to feel how warm the metal is before I begin my work.

This picture shows one of my cuffs that is ready for chasing.  Also note that because this is not a normal pitch bowl, you have to use something to act as a ‘damper’ for the bowl to sit on.  The material the bowl is sitting on is some left over rubber shelf liner.  I experimented with a couple of things before I found this works pretty well.

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The convenience of using this green pitch is great.  I can use my heat gun rather than my torch when I prepare it for use or just re-heat it once it’s too cool.  It liquifies quicker than the red or the black; again that is just with the use of my heat gun, not the torch.  It does have a lovely pine scent.  It is pretty easy to remove from your metal; I find with each new pitch I have a learning curve on how to correctly work with it.  I just gotta say, I am super impressed with this pitch and I highly recommend it.

To order the green pitch, you can find it at Chasers-Pitch.  I did get Debra’s eBook with my first order and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

A Couple of Tips.

> Something I read recently was to apply a light coating of PAM to the surface of your metal that will be placed in the pitch.  This helps to prevent the pitch from adhering to your piece once you heat it to remove it from the pitch.  I find it works quite well, but go light with the spray!  I have just applied it to a paper towel and then rubbed that across the metal; you don’t want to use too much.

> Again, let me state that with proper care, your pitch can last a long time….maybe a lifetime.  What is proper care?

  1. Don’t overheat your pitch to the point where it smokes and starts to burn.  That will cause bad pitch segments and affect the outcome of your chasing and repousse work.
  2. When not in use, keep your pitch covered to prevent contamination by dust, animal dander and such.

Thanks for joining me for this segment of Talkin’ Tools.  I hope you enjoyed the read and more importantly, I hope I have given you some good information about the various pitches I use.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

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Treescape ~ Amethyst Sage set in Sterling Silver

This coming Saturday, February 7, 2015 will be my first trunk show of the new year.  I am very excited to be debuting some new works, including some Treescape pendents like the one pictured here.

Where:  Santa Fe Trail Jewelry
215 Chapala Plaza
Monument, CO 80132
719.481.0250

Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Date: Saturday, February 7, 2015

The timing is perfect for Valentine’s Day shopping and I have some new earrings that you may find perfect for yourself or gift giving!

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I have so much fun spending the day with Marylee Reisig owner of Santa Fe Trail Jewelry.  In between our conversations with customers, we spend time reflecting on our respective art work.  There’s great energy at The Trail and so many beautiful things.

I hope you will join us.  Discuss a little bit about art.  And maybe find something that calls to you.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

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There are times when I feel compelled to write about a certain topic.  Today I would like to share the story of my Treescape series.

On September 15, 2011 while I was at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show, Treescapes was born.

I purchase a number of my stones from Mark Lasater of The Clamshell.  On that particular Thursday in September, as we greeted each other, he was very excited about a new batch of Dendritic opals he had.  Mark knew this was (and still is) one of my favorite stones.  He said to me,  “You won’t believe what these look like”.  Each one had a beautifully shaped tree, formed by the black dendrites in perfect contrast to the white in these stones.  It was remarkable and this was the first of those stones he showed me.

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Dendritic Opal

The minute I saw this, I knew exactly what my design would be.  That was a first for me.  What I didn’t know at the time was I was about to find my artistic voice.

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The Inspiration

Treescapes has grown (yes a bit of a pun here) and evolved since then.  Initially I was just focused on the Dendritic Opals that had tree shapes in them.   The response to those designs was wonderful and I started to think I could use other stones whether they had any tree elements to them or not.

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Variscite with Orange Garnet tube set 

It’s in my nature to try to understand the ‘why‘ about things.  I wanted to understand why this series was becoming so important to me.

I love trees and that is the foundation of Treescapes.  My work has always been very organic.  While I find symmetry beautiful, you will rarely see that in my pieces, because I am drawn to the uniqueness of leaves, flowers, trees; those elements in nature where nothing is identical.  I explain to people that just as no two snow flakes or leaves are exactly alike, neither is any of my work.  Each pieces is designed and made by hand, my hands.  The goal with my art is to reflect that uniqueness found in nature.

In addition to that, my father was a landscaper, as was his father.  However, as I look back on the work they did, they were true artists.  There were many times I went with dad as he worked his magic with a landscape.  His father taught him how to create beautiful lattice work accents (bridges, decorative elements for buildings, etc.).  I watched, observing the care my father had for the trees and plants he tended.  I believe that is where my deep appreciation and respect for nature started.  This is the ‘why‘ behind Treescapes; my dad, his father, it’s in my blood.

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This is one of the last remaining works of my grandfather in the park of my home town.

As I create the pieces in the Treescape series, things just flow for me.  The ideas, designs come easily and it feels almost effortless.  Each piece is unique like my fingerprint.

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I am so grateful that this work still calls to people.  I will continue to make these pieces because they are my heart, my voice, my essence, my soul.  My dad’s birthday was this past Friday, January 23.  While he left this world in 2005, never seeing his influence on my art, I have this sense that my dad is happy with these works and smiles knowing his influence is there.  I have my ‘why‘.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

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Chasing Hammers by Saign Charlestein

I am officially resuming my Talkin’ Tools segment.  For this one, I would like to share my experiences with Chasing Hammers.   There are A LOT of  chasing hammer manufacturers and I certainly cannot give a comprehensive assessment, however, I can provide my insights and opinions on the ones I have and use.

Last summer, I had what I considered to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn Chasing and Repousse from Il Maestro Fabrizio Acquafresca.  It was a great experience and ignited a passion within me for this technique.  I’m pretty sure the chasing hammer Fabrizio was using was one that had been handed down for generations.  It had that wonderful aged look from use and care.

This is the hammer that came in our kits.

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Nice weight and it has rounded face.  I have discovered that I actually prefer a flat face because it gives me better striking surface. This picture shows the differences between a flat face and rounded.

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It certainly is not a high end, quality chasing hammer, but it does the job and is great for getting a feel for the technique of chasing and repousse.  One thing that happened  during the 5 day workshop with Fabrizio is the head of this hammer became loose with use. Fabrizio fixed it with the well placed insertion of a nail as shown in the photo below.

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Now I will never give this hammer up for many reasons, but it is no longer my hammer of choice when doing Chasing and Repousse.

I have a variety of econmonical chasing hammers ranging from $15 – $30 is cost per hammer; I also have some high end, quality chasing hammers that I will discuss toward the end of this post..  The reason I have a number of the less expensive hammers is because they are a good all around hammer for working with stamps, punches, dapping blocks and forging metal, like creating the frames for my Treescape pieces.

This is the first chasing hammer I purchased when I began metalsmithing.  It came from Allcraft and is a solid hammer with many years of service in its future.  It was roughly $30 about 8 years ago.  The handle needs a bit of smoothing and a tip from the workshop was you can use the edge of a piece of glass to gently smooth the handle.

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Pictured below is another chasing hammer I purchased through Thunderbird Supply during one of their overstock sales.  It is heavy and very solid.

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One thing you will find with the less expensive chasing hammers is the quality of wood used isn’t as nice, they are not as well balanced for hammering and the handle shapes are not as well defined.

You’ve probably noticed that all these pictured have a bulbous end.  That is designed for comfort and to help with how you grip the handle.  It reminds me of instructions I received when playing tennis; grip the handle like you are going to shake hands with it.  Not too tight, a nice gentle and relaxed grasp.

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Place the ‘bulb’ end in the palm of your hand.

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Wrap your fingers around the bulbous handle with a gentle grip.

Drum roll please.  My indulgence in a great, quality chasing hammer came with my purchase of this one from Saign Charlestein, owner of SC Studios LLC.  It has 4 ounce head.  Perfectly balanced.  Higher quality Osage orange wood for the handle.  Superb craftsmanship.

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You may think it is too beautiful to use, but that definitely isn’t the case.   You can find a variety of Saign’s hammers, chasing tools and tutorials on his website, Metalsmithing-Tools.com.  The design of the handle and the wood Saign uses is such that it allows for the correct movement/action when hammering.  This helps to prevent injuries that can occur with repetitive use of the hammers in metalwork.   Trust me, you want the hammer to do the work, not your body.  Correct grip, use your wrist.  This hammering technique is one best learned in a workshop or by watching videos put together by people like Saign or Fabrizio.

As with any tool, proper grip and technique are imperative for achieving the desired result.  At the end of the workshop with Fabrizio, he told me to keep hammering.  Practice is the key to success with anything.  I try to hammer every day, but that is not always possible with my schedule.  I will say that when you have a quality hammer, like the ones Saign produces, they do help you to develop the correct hammering action.

Remember posture is just as important.  Don’t hold the handle with a death grip as that will not only fatigue your hand and arm, but will result in your body absorbing some of the ‘shock waves’ from the hammer blows.  Gently grasp the hammer in your hand.  Move your wrist in action with the hammer usage.  It should be a nice flowing action.  For chasing, your work surface should be at chest level which requires the proper chair height and work table.  I am more comfortable when I sit more upright and do not hunch over my pitch while chasing.

This Christmas, I treated myself to the purchase of a set of Saign’s hammers.  I wanted the different weights so I could select the right hammer for working with my designs.  The lightest head here is 2 ounces for detail and texture work up to 3.5 and 4.5 ounces to get the job done.  These have become my work horses for the designs I create.

DSC07846

 

Now you may wonder what size is right for you.  It just so happens that Saign posted a video discussing Chasing Hammer Sizing on this past Tuesday.  Please take a look as he does a great job answering the question.

Could I find comparable hammers for less money, no doubt.  Would I be as happy with them, I really don’t think I would.  In this case, my opinion is you get what you pay for.  I have a number of Fretz hammers.  They are truly beautiful.  I love the Fretz texture hammers I have.  However, the head on my Fretz chasing hammer  is loose.  In part, because I live in Colorado where it is very dry and the wood shrinks.  I’ve heard of a number of solutions, but I’m not comfortable trying any of them, so the Fretz hangs on my peg board above my bench.  I can tell you that it does not have the weight or balance the Saign’s hammers do.

DSC07843

I also have a wonderful selection of N C Black Hammers and I am extremely happy with them; however, to my knowledge they do not make a chasing hammer.  If they did, I’m certain I would be very happy with the quality of theirs based on my experience with the others I have.

These are Japanese chasing hammers.  They look quite different from the others mentioned so far.  They are small in design to fit with the smaller, lighter Japanese chasing tools and chisels.  I do enjoy using these.  Their hammering action is quite different from the others, but I find them great for applying textures.  They also have flat hammer faces.

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Ideally, if you can ‘test drive’ a hammer before purchasing it, that’s the best route to go.  Everyone’s hands are different and some may fit you better than others.  I’ve been pretty fortunate with the selections I have made.

For more information on the topic of Chasing and Repousse, some resources I frequently use are

When you have the right hammer and practice practice practice….the joy of moving metal into beautiful shapes is absolutely magical.

AspenCuff

This is one of my latest Aspen cuffs.  I think the reason I enjoy these so much is the Aspens in our back yard have served as my models.

I hope you have enjoyed the return to Talkin’ Tools.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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about.me

Kathleen Krucoff

Kathleen Krucoff

Artist, Metalsmith & Basset Hound Fan

I've never been one to color inside the lines, so why should my work be constrained by any boundaries?

Being creative is a way of life for me. Metalworking satisfies my love of working with my hands. I consider my art jewelry to be unique forms of personal adornment.

I am blessed to share my life with my best friend, soul mate and husband, Dan. We share our home with three adorable basset hounds.

Aspiring to be more as an artist and a person.

Kathleen Krucoff Art Jewelry

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