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Ginkgo Leaf Earrings
Arts & Crafts Impressions
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Today, I am debuting my new series, Arts & Crafts Impressions.  The Ginkgo Leaf Earrings pictured are the result of many experiments, learning experiences and more than a few frustrations that occurred during the creative process.  All signs of personal and artistic growth in my opinion.  I must say that I am very happy with the end results, along with a few other sneak peaks I will provide in this post.

This weekend, I will be participating in Colorado Arts & Crafts Society’s The Gathering of the Guilds at the Boettcher Mansion in Golden, Colorado.  This is the second year for this event and I am looking forward to being one of the participating artists.

The intent of The Gathering of the Guilds is to promote the ideals and aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts Movement produced by such local guilds as the Book Arts League, Castle Clay Artists, Colorado Calligraphers’ Guild, Colorado Metalsmithing Association, Colorado Woodworkers Guild, Friends of Dard Hunter, Guild of Book Workers, Handweavers Guild of Boulder, Red Rocks School of Fine Woodworking, and the Rocky Mountain Weaver’s Guild. Designed to be an interactive event, there will be featured demonstrations, presentations and/or workshops on the best craftsmanship in and around the Rocky Mountain region.

It became very important for me to explore an Arts & Crafts theme for this event.  I have always loved the simplicity and elegance that the Arts & Crafts movement represented.  To bring this into my work, proved to be a real design challenge for me.  As I have mentioned, I certainly had my share of failures as I worked on this, yet it was worth it.  I feel that I definitely experienced growth in my work and I am happy to provide a preview of some of the new art jewelry pieces that will be available on this coming Sunday, May 1st.

I’d also like to provide a little background about the Boettcher Mansion.  It was built in 1917 as a summer home and seasonal hunting lodge for Charles Boettcher.  The 110 acre estate is in the Arts & Crafts style located  in Golden, CO.  I’m looking forward to seeing this historic home.

I am happy to be one of the members representing Colorado Metalsmithing Association, along with my fellow metalsmiths Lexi Erickson and Pattie Parkhurst.  Lexi, Patty & I will be demonstrating metalsmithing techniques, along with offering some of our works for sale. 

The admission is $5 and the event runs from 10 AM to 4 PM on Sunday. If you are in the area, I hope you will stop and take in all this event has to offer.

Here are a few of my new pieces in my new Arts & Crafts Impressions Series.

Geometrics Pendant
Arts & Crafts Impressions
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

I have a mixture of the circles and the Ginkgo leaves in this series.  I was surprise at how difficult it was at times to create pieces with simplicity in mind.

My focus for this series was to work completely in metal. I used copper and silver combinations.  It was a pleasant surprise to see how much warmth and  interest copper added to the pieces. I was determined to make this series just about the metal, no stones, just metal.


Offset Circle Pendant
Arts & Crafts Impressions
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Again, my hat is off to Dan for the great photos he has taken of these new pieces. He really makes my work shine.

I have more pieces, but I wanted to provide a sneak peak and I will feature more of these in my posts over the next few weeks. Right now I’m hoping that I’ve peaked your curiosity about this new series and if you live in the Denver area, maybe this will entice you to come see my new works along with the work of other local artists.

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

Metalsmiths Essentials – How To Solder Jewelry

Look what came in the mail this week!  It’s Lexi’s new DVD on How to Solder Jewelry.  Great price too, only $29.95 for 95 minutes of instructions.  That’s less than the cost of a class!

Why am I writing about this in my Talkin’ Tools segment?  Well, I consider having educational DVDs (videos) an essential part of my tool collection too.  I have a modest library of instructional DVDs and I plan to feature some of them in the weeks to come.  They are a great reference for those times when:

  • I am trying to remember what a teacher said
  • How they actually did something in class
  • What was the tool they used for a certain technique or
  • I  am unable to enroll in a class but there is this artist that I REALLY want to take a class from and they have a series of instructional DVDs… I can study at my own pace and if I miss something, rewind and look at it again.  Bonus!

So this week I want to talk about Lexi’s DVD – Metalsmiths Essentials – How To Solder Jewelry available through Interweave.  I pre-ordered it on Monday and got it on Wednesday.  How is that for service from Interweave?  Pretty awesome.

It’s funny, I knew nothing about how to solder jewelry a couple of years ago.  I mistakenly thought because I knew how to solder stained glass, I also knew how to solder jewelry.  WRONG.  Two entirely different processes.  Just because you know how to do one, doesn’t mean you have a clue about the other.  With stained glass, you have a soldering iron.  With jewelry, you use a TORCH!  Must respect the TORCH.

So Lexi taught me how to solder jewelry.  I had the benefit of taking one of her workshops and enjoyed the hands on approach of a classroom setting.  She covered a semesters worth of lessons in a 2 day workshop.  Whew, it was one busy weekend, never a dull moment, and I loved every minute of it.   One of the most important things she showed us was how to safely solder using the big girl torch!  Whoooo Whaaaaa Whooooot!  Ok, it can be called the big boy torch too!  🙂

In this DVD, she starts with all the basics, including how to set up your tank, and moves you forward to learning the technique.  It’s a wonderful refresher course for those of us who know how to solder and it’s so beneficial to be able to watch her with her mastery of the torch and the flame.   There’s a reason why she earned the nickname “The Torch“!  She’s good, damn good.  Careful observation, watch & learn the technique grasshopper.   She discusses options.  Sure, there’s always more than one way to do something, but I recommend following her lead because she knows what she’s doing.

Her 25 years of teaching experience shines in this DVD.  So if you haven’t had a chance to benefit from Lexi’s teaching, this DVD gives you a great learning opportunity.  If you ever do have a chance to take one of Lexi’s classes, just DO IT!  I promise you, you will not be disappointed!  I have benefited from her mentorship.

I think the folks at Interweave are pretty smart cookies too for capturing Lexi’s talent on DVD, just in time for Mother’s Day gift giving too.

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


Mountain De Fuego
Mountainesque Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Fuego, the Spanish word for Fire. This Sonoran Sunrise looked so fiery to me; it was as if the mountain in this stone was on fire. Sure, I considered Fire Mountain as its title, but that just didn’t do the piece justice in my mind. I liked the sound of Mountain De Fuego.

The stone is another one of those beauties from Gary B. Wilson.  It’s hard to miss the quality of Gary’s work.  As a matter of fact, I added more of his work to my inventory in the past week.  I’ve got some great ideas for the latest batch of stones.

Mountain De Fuego continues with the theme of the Mountainesque Series, where mountain shapes are carried into the setting.  It’s a big, bold piece with a lot of silver.  Yes, silver is continuing to rise in price.  Who really knows how high the price of silver will go and when it will seek its level like water.  One thing is for certain, something has to give.

I love using silver in my pieces. I’ve started to work some with copper and silver combinations and I do find the blending of the two to be quite attractive. Yet, I think you will find that I will continue to work with silver as I have.  At least that is my hope.

An added bonus with today’s post is Mountain De Fuego is being featured on Facebook by Kim Hatzold of Untamed Spirit Studios.  This is the second time Kim has given a shout out about my work.  She writes some great articles about stones, how people use them and more.  Consider becoming a fan of Untamed Spirit Studios, I am!  And check out more of Kim’s work on her website too.

Time to head back to the studio.  Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.


The Fretz Mini Forming Stake Set

This set of Fretz Mini Forming Stakes was on my 2010 Christmas list.  Yes, I asked for tools for Christmas!  And Santa….er, hmmm, Dan was very good to me.  It helps to provide a discount code, url, etc. when creating your Christmas Wish List.  Plus, Dan knew how much I wanted these little beauties, because they were on my Christmas list the year before.  At that time, I had expressed a bit of uncertainty about them.  However, as Christmas 2010 drew near, I knew I needed them!  That whole need vs. want thing……

For this week, I wanted to talk about how wonderful mini forming stakes are for the new work I’m doing.  Currently I’m working on flowers and leaves for some new jewelry designs.  I’m using very small pieces of metal, ranging from 1/4″  to just barely 1/2″.   These little stakes help me to add curves and a bit of a bow to make the metal take on the shape of a flower or a leaf.  I want to add a 3D effect to the metal.

I use this particular stake from the set a lot right now.  It’s pretty darn sweet in my opinion.  The stake holder firmly secures the stake on my work surface.  There are 7 stakes in this set and each one has a unique curve, dome, or depression to help you form the metal.  I think each of us who have forming stakes tends to gravitate toward a couple that become our favorites to use.  This one has become one of my favorites.

This photo shows how I position the metal on the stake.  This is a little copper flower I’m working on.  In the background you can see the Fretz hammer that I use to form the metal into the rounded shape I want, with the help of the stake.

My Fretz Double Ended Insert hammer that works extremely well with these stakes.  This hammer comes with a set of plastic heads (shown in the plastic bag in this photo) that you can switch out the hammer ends, depending on what you need to accomplish.  I got this hammer from Otto Frei after I got the stakes.  The stakes and the hammer are designed to work together.  I tried working with another rubber hammer that I had, but it did not work as well as the Fretz.  When Bill Fretz designs his hammers, he does a great job! Plus those rose wood handles feel divine!

The working relationship between the hammer and the stake is very important.  The insert tips for the hammer ends are plastic.  Why plastic?  Well the metalsmiths in the crowd know the answer to this one.  For those of you who don’t, the plastic doesn’t mar the metal when you are shaping it.  That’s important, really important.  You just want the metal to curve and take a desired form with the help of the stake and the hammer blows.  Marring the metal’s surface is not a desirable by-product.  A metal hammer head will cause marks and dings on the metal.  Not good.   Even though I’m discussing the mini stakes in this post, the hammer becomes an inseparable part of the process.  I guess this is a two for the price of one post!

I wish I could tell you this was an action shot with the perfect picture of the perfect hammer blow on the metal….  It’s ‘staged’ if you will, to show this….  The metal is positioned over the stake.  The hammer strikes the metal’s surface which causes it to form over the rounded edge of this stake and create the “puff” I want for the flower.  Pretty cool!  For this picture, I just wanted to show how the hammer head would strike the metal and cause the metal to form over the stake’s surface.  As I work at this, it tends to take a couple of blows and I move the metal around on the stake as I’m trying to achieve the desired effect.

As I mentioned earlier, the pieces of metal I work with for these new designs are pretty small and I do my best to keep my fingers out of the way.  It definitely helps that the hammer has a plastic head!  This hammer comes with 9 different heads as shown in an earlier photo above.  So far I’ve only used 2 out of the 9.  This is a very useful hammer.

So what have I made with these wonderful stakes?  The first thing was a pair of earrings pictured below.  They are a prototype for a show that is coming up in the fall.  I wanted to see what I could do, then develop the technique further.  At the time I started these, I wanted to incorporate stones with the metal shapes.  I’m still debating with myself on this design possibility.  What do you think?  Like the stones?  Just go with metal only?  A mixture of both?

I haven’t given the earrings a title yet….since they are prototypes, they are a starting point for me.  I have others that are only metal and represent leaves, Ginkgo leaves. Those have really evolved.  I will be posting pictures of that work, my new Arts & Crafts series, in the next week.

I hope you see how the metal flowers on these earrings have rounded edges and a flower petal look.  All created by those wonderful Fretz Mini Forming Stakes and their companion Fretz hammer.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Talkin’ Tools!  Do you have a set of these mini stakes?  Are you thinking about getting them? Let me know.

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


From the Blog-o-sphere Think Tank, the question posed to the group is: What is your favourite movie (or book!) – and why? Mine in Avatar, hands down.

I have a lot of favorite movies, but Avatar resonates with me.  I have seen it more times in the theater than any other movie and I cannot tell you how many times I have played it since we got our first copy of it on DVD.  When I’m working in my studio, I always have music or the tv on, and many run in the background as I work.  Avatar is one of those I go to when I need inspiration.

Why do I like this movie so much? The geek in me loves how the characters were brought to life through CG.  I found Pandora to be  such a beautiful place. The colors, the wildlife, the plants, the Navi.  Say what you like about the story line, I loved it.  It has inspired some of my jewelry designs.

I’ve always enjoyed science fiction.  Showing possibilities. It fuels my imagination. Our creativity is only limited by our imagination, so this movie spoke to me on many levels.  As it started, Jake describing his injury that left him in a wheelchair, yet he had dreams of flying.  When he first synchs with his avatar, the sheer joy he experienced because he could walk again, run again…that was joyful.  Jake’s first flight with his banshee…his dream of flying becoming a reality.  The purity of his spirit as the wood sprites were surrounding him & landing on him, giving Neytiri a sign that Jake was something special.  His courage as he becomes one of the People and fights for them.  It just inspires me.

So many powerful emotions. The bond that develops and grows between Jake and Neytiri.  The loss of Hometree.  The perceived betrayal.  The ultimate redemption.  It all works for me.

I’m looking forward to seeing what my fellow blog-o-sphere contributors share.  Please take a moment to check out their responses to this question:

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

Lee Marshall’s Knew Concept Saw

You’re gonna LOVE IT!

What am I up to now?  Well, it’s something I hope you will enjoy as a diversion in my blog posts.  I also hope you will find it informative and useful.  I think a number of you know how much I love tools.  Yes, let me repeat that, I LOVE TOOLS!  Anything that makes the job easier, I’m in.

My father taught me the importance of the right tool for the job.  One of my goals with my Talkin’ Tools posts is to let you in on my treasure trove of tools that I love.  The ones that do the job and kick it when it comes to getting the work done.  That’s very important to me and I suspect it’s important to you too.

So how did I get this concept? The credit goes to my genius, Dan!  He’s always thinking.  He’s truly brilliant.

Last week as Dan & I were driving in the mountains, I was telling him that another person had contacted me about my blog post on Cliff Carroll’s Anvils that I called 35 lbs of Metalsmithing Joy.  It was one of my most popular posts last year and it continues to receive a lot of traffic from search engine hits.    I told Dan that I thought part of the reason for its popularity is people ‘google’ items and look for an unbiased opinion or review about a product. I know I do!  My hope is that I can fill a void by discussing those tools and pieces of equipment that help me when I’m working with metal.

Well, Dan is “always thinking” and he suggested that I start writing reviews about my favorite tools or equipment that I use when I’m metalsmithing.  I thought that was a great idea and I hope you concur.  This is my first post in a new Talkin’ Tools category which I plan on publishing every Friday.

Another nudge for me to start these Talkin’ Tools posts, was a comment I saw from my online metalsmithing friend, Sandy Cahill-Johnson.  Sandy had made a comment about breaking saw blades and wondered about a “Knew Saw”?  From her reference, I knew (no pun intended here) she was referring to Lee’s saws and I thought this would be a good tool to discuss.

Of course, Lexi (Erickson) introduced me to this wonderful tool almost a year ago.  Prior to that, I was using this German made saw that I purchased from Lexi during my first metalsmithing workshop with her.

It’s a nice saw.  And the first weekend I used it in Lexi’s workshop, I broke my share of saw blades.  Gotta feel the rhythm, get in the zone when you are sawing.  It comes with practice.

However Lee’s Knew Concept saw can turn a beginner into an intermediate and advanced saw handler in no time flat.  Sure you can still break a saw blade with this, but let me tell you, it’s pretty hard to do that.  I don’t want to say you have to work at it, but I think you really do have to try to break a blade.  Lexi was able to saw with the same blade for a month!  Wow.  I haven’t tracked my record for not breaking a blade, but the design is so good it forgives common errors with sawing.

Helen Driggs has written about this saw in her Tool Tips articles in Lapidary Journal.  Lexi has introduced people to the beauty of using this tool.  It truly is worth the investment.  It comes in several different sizes; I have the 5″ model and it is an all around work horse.  It is my go saw to when I start sawing metal.  Yes you still have to use bur-life or another lube to protect your blade.  I have found that it makes sawing metal like cutting butter!  Easy, easy, easy!!!

Plus, I met Lee Marshal last year at the Colorado Metalsmiths Conference in Salida, CO.  Lee is the nicest person and you can just tell he cares about the quality of his products.  He hit the bullseye with the Knew Concept Saw.  Thank you Lee!

Those metalsmiths in the crowd know how much fun putting a new saw blade in place can be.  With Lee’s Knew Concept, it is virtually effortless.  No more trying to find the right spot to position the saw so you can insert one end of a saw blade.  You know what I’m talking about!  This baby just lets you put the saw blade in position and you are ready to rock and roll.  Or maybe I should say you lock and load?!? 🙂  It’s a joy.

Staying on line and making the twist and turns as you cut out a design is a breeze.  I would highly recommend the Knew Concept saw.  If you have a chance to test drive (saw) one, go for it.  It’s an effortless leap of faith to purchase one in my book.  A number of suppliers have them, yet I went directly to the source, Lee Marshall and purchased mine.

I’d love to know if you have one and are using it? Or are you thinking about it?  If you do buy one, please let me know.  I hope you share my enthusiasm for this wonderful tool.

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


Distant Mountains
Mountainesque Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Where do I start? Another in my Mountainesque Series.  I find my inspiration and title in the stone.  Another beautiful Sonoran Sunrise from Gary B Wilson.  There is a very rich rusty red in this stone.  As you look at the center of it there is a goldish band that looked like Distant Mountains to me.  The shapes of mountains form the back drop in the sterling silver setting.  As I designed the setting for this piece, that free flowing movement in creating the surrounding mountain shapes just came naturally.  It’s becoming a bit of an endorphin high for me as I create the designs and follow through with the creation of the piece.  Love it!

I’ve had to take a small break from working on my Mountainesque Series because I am preparing for an event that takes place on May 1st.  I will be posting details about the event and the new works in another week or so.  Preparing for this event became a bit of design challenge for me and I actually have a new series as a result.  Stay tuned …. I think you will like this new direction.

For now, I will leave you with Distant Mountains.  Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Yesterday was a great day! I took a stone setting workshop with D’Ette Delforge at Sweetman Allen Studio in Lakewood, CO.

The rings pictured at the top of this post are mine.  The rings in the ad above show a much better image, our workshop covered the center ring.  I only managed to get one stone set.  My apologies for the poor photo quality, I took it as the ring isn’t ready for Dan to take a nice picture of it and I wanted to post about this workshop while it was fresh in my memory.

I love learning new things.  This one was very challenging and reinforced the need for practice!  Lots of practice.

Our teacher was D’ette Delforge and she’s wonderful.  If you ever get a chance to take a class with her, I highly recommend it.  She is patient and very willing to share how to do this type of work.  You can find out more about D’ette and her work on her website.

She had this quote at her bench and I found it inspiring.  It certainly is a motto she lives by as she teaches.

One of the many great aspects of yesterday was that Lexi had enrolled in this class, along with some of my other metalsmithing friends.  And I got to meet some new metalsmiths, which made for a wonderful exchange of ideas and conversations.

Lexi Erickson (left) and Carol Weir ready to start the day!

I think we were a pretty enthusiastic bunch.  D’ette had prepared supply kits for our project and here are the really sweet set of drill bits that were in our kits along with a little forging tool she made for us from a nail!

More tools!  Love it!

One of the things I really enjoy with workshops like this are all the little tips and tricks the instructor shares with the class.  D’ette gave us a couple of tools she made for this type of specialty work.  And she described others to us that we could make.  Loved that!

The workshop covered flush mount stone setting.  We learned how to size the ring, join it, position the holes for the stones, drill, set, and finish.  The bulk of the finish work really needs to be done before the stone is set so the stone won’t be damaged.  But there are ways, if you need to do some finish work after it’s set too.  It’s just easier if the ring is finished before the stone is set.

Another thing I noticed, and I’m beginning to believe this is a common trait in all the metalsmiths I know, is quality craftsmanship.  D’ette stated it is just as important to finish the inside of the ring as it is the outside.  She had this handy tool for cleaning the inside of the ring.

It is another tool that she made, using a nail and sand paper.  Cleans the inside of the ring just as slick as a whistle.

One of the things I love about this next photo is it shows the technique of a real master of her craft.

Getting the hole started.  Stabilizing the hand position so as to prevent the drill from moving.  D’ette’s expertise shines.

So now it’s our turn.  Wearing magnifiers to clearly see what we are doing was HUGE.  Lexi took this photo of me as I was concentrating pretty intently on drilling.  The eye gear I was wearing drew a number of comments and they thought I looked like I was from Star Trek.  I’m ok with that, Live Long & Prosper, right?

This next photo truly shows how glamorous the life of an art jeweler is!  As if the previous photo didn’t give that away already.

Glam shot!

How ’bout them glasses!!!!????!!!!  Yes, I do think there’s something out of this world in that photo.

I learned so much and I have so much practice to do.  It was a wonderful day and I am a strong proponent of investing in yourself with continued educational workshops and/or classes.

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

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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