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First let me say that I by no means want to detract from the previous stones I have shown you in this series.  I am very happy with all of them and think they are quite lovely.  It’s just that after all I have seen, when I run across an artist who demonstrates exceptional craftsmanship, I feel compelled to make note of it.

I found exceptional stones from Gary B. Wilson. I will always be grateful to Lexi for introducing me to his work and the artist himself. Gary truly is gifted in how he crafts the various stones that he finds.  As Lexi says, he designs stones with the art jeweler in mind.  His wife, Kathy, is also an art jewelry designer. My impression is they make a great team.

Let me share a few of my exceptional finds from Gary.  It is my commitment to Gary and Lexi that the art jewelry I will create with these pieces will not only do justice to Gary’s talent as a stone cutter but honor Lexi as my teacher and mentor.

WilsonPicassoMarblePicasso Marble

I am intrigued by the patterns in Picasso Marble.  The shapes remind me of trees in the winter, bare without the adornment of leaves. I had the good fortune to find three sets for earrings.  I will definitely be keeping one of the earring sets.

WilsonDendritesOnLimestoneDendrites on Limestone

Given my love for nature, the little dendrites in these limestone pieces are some of my favorites. They have this wonderful delicate quality.

WilsonRubyInZoisiteRuby In Zoisite

How about these colors? Rich, vivid. I only have the two shown here. Of course, Gary had more. Since my goal was to have a good foundation of stone varieties, I felt it was important to keep with two stones in certain varieties. Now I will be the first to admit that was hard to do and I didn’t always follow that rule. Since I hadn’t worked much with some of these, I needed to see what designs I would create and decide if I would want to buy more later.  One of the great things is I can let Gary know if I want more of a certain variety and he will let me know what he has available.  Cool.

WilsonChineseWritingSToneHeartChinese Writing Stone

I have developed a serious weakness for Chinese Writing Stones.  The heart shape of this particular one was so unusual that I felt it would be wonderful to work with.  I found several others too, but had to share this wonderful cut.  See what I mean, Gary is a real artist!

WilsonCasessiteJasperCasessite Jasper

There is something about the diversity in Jasper.  There are all kinds and I was terribly attracted to many of them.  Of course, the design in the earring shapes is beyond spectacular.  I can see a tree with such a lovely landscape here.  Truly magnificent stones.  Now to do justice to them!

I hope I’ve been able to convey the real beauty of Gary’s work. He has a customer for life with me.  His work has been featured numerous times in Lapidary Journal in the completed works of Lexi and others.  It looks like Gary’s website is under construction, however, I will share that link with you in the future.

It’s time for me to get busy with designs….actually I already have. 🙂  I’m looking forward to sharing some of my new work in the near future.

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

AmethystSageClamshell

This is one of my selections from The Clamshell.  It is called Amethyst Sage.  Of course it has my favorite color, a pale shade of purple.  The image created in the center by part of this stone reminds me of a tree.  I love the shadings in the stone too, from the light shade of purple (lilac) to the rich sandy tones.

I found a number of wonderful stones at The Clamshell.  There are a couple I have to research to find out what they are.  Most of the vendors provided information about each stone.  However there were a couple available at The Clamshell that weren’t labeled.  I thought they were beautiful and knew that I would eventually find out what they are.

Here are a couple more of my purchases from The Clamshell……

PicassoStoneClamshell

These are called Picasso Stones.  I am quite taken by the markings in these.  They remind me of tree outlines.  Plus I really like the unusual shapes of these.  I think they will be great focal points in pendants.

LaceyAgate

This is one of my unidentified treasures.  I think it might be a Lace Agate, but I’m not certain.  I will run this one past Lexi to see if she can help me identify it.  I was drawn to the patterns along with the purple and rust colors.  Part of this stone seems subdued, but I think with the right design it will be quite stunning.

ClamshellMysteries

These are my mystery stones. Mystery Solved! Thanks to the wonderful slides of their work on The Clamshell’s website, I found that these are…..drum roll….. Dendritic Opal, White Base with Black Dendrites.  VERY COOL I was intrigued by the unusual patterns and the stark black & white combinations.  I think they will make interesting and beautiful pendants.

One of the great things I like about having a nice foundation and variety of stones is that I have an opportunity to come up with all kinds of design possibilities.  I am finding that the designs I have on paper tend to evolve as I work on putting them together.  I enjoy that immensely.

Hope you enjoyed these beauties.  I still have more to share and remember, the best is yet to come.

Aspire to be more as an artist and a person!

EudialytePendant

I purchased several of these stones from Asterix, Ltd, of Russia.  Lexi told me these were very rare and they are so beautiful.  This is the largest of the group and it is about 1 1/4″ by 3/4″.  It has a very deep, rich burgundy color with a touch of gray and lovely sage green.

EudialyteEarringsThese are for earrings.  I was in the process of selecting a different set and the owner pointed these out to me stating they were just a touch nicer quality for the same price as the other set.  So nice of him.  I am definitely tempted to keep these for myself, especially since they are rare stones.  Plus I love the rich colors in this set.

I’ve done a little research on this stone since the show and have found this information about it.  Eudialyte is a fairly rare cyclosilicate mineral. It is a popular mineral in collections.  Much eudialyte on the market today comes from the Kola Peninsula, Russia.

Now I am on a mission to find a good reference book that can help me to identify stones.  There are lots out there; I’m just not sure which will be the best for my needs.  I know I’ll find several in my search.

May all of you have a wonderful week of creativity! Remember, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Australian Atlantisite

Australian Atlantisite

Friday, September 18th, was my first visit to the Denver Gem & Mineral Show.  What an event!  It is overwhelming.  I had a great day and enjoyed the company of Lexi and her friends.

Thanks to Lexi I had a great opportunity to check out so many things and I believe my inventory of stone varieties will allow me to easily work on designs for the next year! It was fabulous.

I thought it would be best to share bits and pieces of my ‘finds’ at the show and I’m starting with the first cabochons I purchased.  These come from Australia and are called Atlantiste.   According to the card provided by the vendor,  Ausrox Gold, these stones are a mixture of purple stichtite in green serpentine.  I fell for the rich purple in these stones and thought the green was such a wonderful compliment to it.  I was tempted to purchase more than these two, but I knew it was the start of our morning of exploration and literally, the best was yet to come.

I’ll show some of my other purchases throughout the week and I am saving the best for last.  That comment isn’t meant to detract for these lovelies as I am very happy with them….it’s just that I couldn’t believe what came throughout the day and I really do want to share the best for last (in my opinion) in this series of posts about the show.

Fortunately, I was able to put everything into inventory today.  I photographed, labeled, packaged my stone selections so I can track what I use easily. I am looking forward to all the new art jewelry designs to come.  I hope you will enjoy sharing this journey with me.

Until next time, aspire to be all you can be as an artist and a person.

FirstStonesMinarexThe Denver Gem and Mineral Show takes place this week.  This is my first time attending the event and I haven’t even made it to the show yet!  Since I am a member of the Colorado Metalsmithing Association, we were invited to a private showing of Micahel Hendrix’s work.  It was such a pleasure to meet Michael and have a chance to see his work.  Lexi was my guide for the evening and introduced me to Michael and some of her friends.  It was a totally new experience for me and I was a little confused by my reaction to the process of selecting my own stones.  I really felt confused at first.

Michael had his work on the host’s dining room table and everyone was circling, picking up stones, holding them under the Ott lights or the natural light coming through the windows to get a feel for how the stones looked, their color, and I’m not sure what else.  I started to pick up a few and it did take me a while to finally see what I was looking for in a stone.  Then the stones started to ‘speak’ to me.  All of a sudden I just knew what was right for me and the work I wanted to do.  That was liberating.

I really can’t tell you how many times I circled that table, pick up different stones, putting some back.  Initially I think I had 6 – 8 stones, none of the ones pictured above.  Those came after my moment of enlightenment.  I kept coming back to certain patterns and colors.  I made a point of staying away from purples….I know this will shock many of you who know me, as purple is my color (Holly, I’m certain you gasped when you read this part!).  I wanted something different and all of a sudden I knew these stones I finally selected were representations of my work.  They looked like scenes.  I could see landscapes, trees, waterfalls, and even beautiful, abstract alien landscapes of distant planets.  So these are my first picks for the week.  And I wanted to provide up close shots for you to see the beauty of these stones, so here they are……………….

Ohio Flint

Ohio Flint

In this stone, I see a waterfall.  And the variations in the stone remind me of scenes that Dan has photographed when we were in Zion National Park.  One of my goals in this process is to pick two stones of the same type so I could have one for myself if I wanted.  Lexi has written about this on her blog too.  However, for this Ohio Flint, I was unable to find another piece of that stone.  This is one of those that is so beautiful, reminding me of Zion and the times Dan & I have spent there, that I envision it as a pendant I will keep for myself.

Orbicular Jasper ~ Madagascar

Orbicular Jasper ~ Madagascar

Again I see landscapes in these two pieces of Oribcular Jasper.  I picked up the piece on the right first and just couldn’t seem to put it down.  I saw sand dunes, rock formations, just lovely earthy designs in this piece.  And I looked and looked and looked for another piece in the same family.  I had actually put it back and was on the opposite side of the table when I found its partner on the left.  Oh I was so delighted as this stone had more color and reminded me of a tree with a sunset in the background.  I quickly scanned the other side of the table in hopes that the piece on the right was still available….and as the picture shows, it was.  What fun!

Brunean Jasper

Brunean Jasper

More from the Jasper family.  The rich russet browns, combined with sandy colorations  captured my eye.  Mores scenes of Bryce or Zion National Parks entered my mind.  I felt I was hitting my stride and I understood what I was looking for in stones.  Oh what a feeling!

Texas Flint

Texas Flint

I was intrigued by the contrasts in these two. The rich burgundy complimented by honey shades and striking whites just reminded me of another world.  A distant planet churning with chemical reactions.  And the shapes of these stones are unique.

There was one other stone, also in the Orbicular Jasper group, but it just didn’t speak to me as the others had.  I put it back for the third time and knew I made the right decision.

When I brought my tray with these 7 stones, Michael looked at my selections.  He sat back, looked at me, looked at the stones and said, “You have a wonderful eye. Great palettes. If your jewelry designs are as good as your choices here, you are on the way to being a great jewelry designer”.  I was blown away.  I have witnesses too of what he said.  He has the greatest respect and admiration for Lexi.  He knows I am one of her students.  He told me that Lexi is a gifted metalsmith.  She is.  And when I shared this with Lexi, she said Michael is a very genuine person and he would not tell me something he didn’t believe to be true.  I am honored and humbled.  Now it’s time to do justice to these beautiful stones with some great designs. And to live up to being one of Lexi’s students.

As I did in my last post, I’d like to share another business card with you, this time, Michael’s.  If you can make it to the Gem & Mineral Show in Denver this week, please look him up.  If you are looking for a particular type of stone, email him or call.  He is helpful, knowledgeable, and gracious.  And I can assure you, you will have a beautiful cabochon or two or three…. 🙂

MinarexBusnCard

I’ll be heading up to Denver for the show on Friday.  Lexi will be my guide again and I’m certain it will be a great day of fun and sensory overload.  I’ll keep you posted.

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

CliffCarrollAnvil

This beautiful anvil is mine. I purchased it today, from Cliff Carroll’s Horseshoer’s Supplies in Larkspur, Colorado….just up the road from where I live. I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  It’s only 35 pounds and of course he makes bigger ones….hmmmm maybe one day.  I met Mr. Carroll, he is a delightful person and has been making anvils in Larkspur for 33 years.  Wow.  Who knew?  Well, not me.   I am so excited about this.  I have my first anvil and I think it is absolutely beautiful.  Mr. Carroll told me that he ships his anvils all over the world.  And these 35 pound ones are just right for art jewelry metalsmiths like myself.  He receives orders from Jewelry schools for these little beauties and he is familiar with a lot of the places around the world where metalsmithing classes are taught!

CliffCarrollAnvilTopView

My father taught me the importance of tools and I just love them.  Probably odd for a woman to be so enamored with tools, but I have been from a very early age. Thanks Dad!  And I have had the good fortune of meeting other women that appreciate their value too, like Lexi Erickson, Helen Driggs, and most of the female metalsmiths I’ve met or read about!  Cool.

What I find interesting is I have searched the web, been to farrier forums, metalsmiths forums, art jewelry forums, in my quest for an anvil over the past couple of months.  And just last week I was reading a post from an art jewelry designer/maker, who just got her Cliff Carroll anvil.  She was extremely impressed with the quality.  And I tucked that tidbit of information away, thinking this is a name I need to remember in my quest for the anvil.

Last night I searched the web for farrier suppliers in Colorado and ran across the url for Mr. Carroll’s website.  I clicked on the link and search through the anvils offered.  I do have my eye on one of the 70 pounders, but for now I thought, lets just stick to basics and a 35 lb. anvil should do nicely.  I’m looking for contact information, how to place an order, etc, and to my delight I see his business is in Larkspur.  That’s roughly 30 minutes from our house.  I called, spoke directly with him, and was so impressed with his knowledge and helpfulness.  He was going to be open on Saturday and yes I could stop by and purchase the anvil.  Yay!

As Dan & I drove up to the shop this morning, it fits the settings you find around Larkspur.  Mr. Carroll even commented that we would be surprised to find his three large buildings behind the main office where the actual manufacturing takes place.  Well, yes we would.  And that got me thinking, what a great article for Lapidary Journal!  Metal workers use anvils all the time.  Lapidary Journal writes articles about Cool Tools.  What could be better for the readership than an article about anvils and his are made right here in the USA.  I’ve mentioned all of this to Lexi today and she thinks a field trip is in order to Mr. Carroll’s place of business.  How exciting!

I’ll leave you with a copy of his business card and my wishes for a great day and week of creativity.  If you are in need of a quality anvil, Cliff Carroll’s anvils fit the bill!

Aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

CliffCarrollBusnCard

TiffanyStoneDrawings

These drawings represent the various designs I came up with for this Tiffany Stone.  The drawing in the bottom left corner of this picture is the one I have selected for this piece.  I’ve cut out the sterling silver back plate for this one and now I’m at the start of adding the rest of the design components.

I just love the different looks of Tiffany Stones.  Of course, they have some wonderful variations of my favorite color purple!

Part of the inspiration for this piece came from a cover photograph of the February 2009 issue of Lapidary Journal, pictured below.  I ordered this back issue because I was so intrigued by the design of the piece on the cover and this piece was featured in one of the magazine’s great step by step articles.

L0902

As a result, I am learning how to forge metal. Wow, this is great fun. Right now I only have the top piece partially completed as you can see in the picture below.  That piece that I’ve forged is in the upper right hand corner of the picture.  I still have two more sections to forge and then as an added touch I will be adding some half round wire at the base to give a ‘pillow’ look to it.

ForgedPiece

Next to the forged piece is the square wire that it once was.  Forging is an interesting technique.  In Robert Von Neumann’s book, “The Design and Creation of Jewelry”, he describes forging as taking thicker gauges of metal and moving the metal through carefully placed hammer blows.  Now as with all of this, I need to practice, practice, practice.  It is fascinating to me to see how I was able to move the metal and gradually take it from one thickness to a gentle slope, if you will, that reaches a thin edge. My hammering technique needs work and Lexi says I’ll pick it up quickly.  That’s good!

Of course, Lexi guided me through this process and it was such a great learning experience for me.  I used a combination of Lexi’s anvil to begin the basic forming and then moved on to her tablespoon stake to create the gentle curve.  It’s called a tablespoon stake because it has a spoon shape that is perfect for creating gentle curves.  I had to anneal the piece several times to soften it after it was hardened by all the hammer blows.  Did I mention how fascinating this process is to me?  Ultimately, my comfort level with pliers, from my wire wrapping, led me to finish the final curve using pliers rather than shaping it on the stake.  Hey, there’s more than one way to do something, right?

And yes,  I have to find an anvil!  I have my bench anvil (4″ square), but I need/want a real anvil.  The kind farriers use!  There are some local horse shoe suppliers and maybe I can purchase one through them.  I’m hoping to find one locally so I won’t have to pay to have one shipped!  I’ve looked for good used anvils, but so far, no luck.  The quest for the right anvil begins in earnest.

I continue to work on the hand made chain.  Lexi has seen it and based on its complexity, she confirmed that it will take me a while to finish it!  That’s me, pick something that requires a lot for my first attempt!  I know I’m going to love it when it’s finished.

An added bonus, Lexi had started her blog, The Torch, and made her first post today.  If you haven’t seen it, I hope you will check it out and leave a comment for her too. I know she’d enjoy hearing from you!

All for now, until next time, here’s wishing all of you a great week of creativity.  Strive to be more as an artist and a person!

HandMadeChainAt the start of this, I had no idea what went into the process.  I think I am approaching the completion of this piece and I am truly amazed at how long it has taken me.  Now there were some personal circumstances that hindered my ability to spend as much time on this as I normally would.  However, I may just be on this learning curve and it is taking me a lot of time.

Fortunately, I can give you an idea of where the chain is headed.  In my last post, I know a number of you could tell how much I loved these little leaves and wanted to incorporate them into the chain.  A fellow silversmith and blogger, Nicola Callow, suggested adding the leaves as links or making different solder points to keep the leaves.  My mentor, Lexi Erickson, suggested having the leaves as part of the main focal point.  Well, all of their suggestions added to what I thought I could do, and this is the result of having the leaves in this chain.  I still want to pursue Nic’s idea of having leaf chain links and that will be for another chain.  I hope I have the strength…or rather the time.  I think this necklace will be a cumulation of Nic, Lexi, and my take on things.

Right now I have to cut some more links that form the off center marquis shape for the double links between the oval links.  I am using square Argentium silver wire for those links and I’m adding some texture to them.  I’m certain there is a more efficient way to complete the stages that build the chain segments, but I haven’t figured that out yet.

I do think I will want to add a patina of some sort to this one.  JAX has a nice pewter patina that I will consider, or maybe I’ll just use good ole Liver of Sulpher gel.  I will post a picture of the finished chain.  When I take breaks from working on this piece, I have worked on a new design for earrings and a matching pendant…pictures to come.  And I’ve been working on glass too.

Hope you have enjoyed the journey of this piece so far.  Here’s wishing all of you a great week of creativity.  Remember, aspire to be more as an artist and a person!

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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