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A couple weeks ago I did a post on Discovery.  One of the things I wanted to convey is how important I think it is for all artists to be open to Creativity.  It can come to us at the most unusual times and places.  Sometimes imagery comes to me in a dream.  Another time I wrote about the images coming to me in my optometrist’s office!

The common denominator for me, in all of these situations, is letting my mind be open to receive that creative energy, force, or guidance.  Just doing the familiar in ones studio helps.  The flood of ideas can be overwhelming.  Overpowering too.  There are times when I cannot put my pen and sketch book down because I know I am in the zone and the energy flows from my mind to my hand.  I must capture those images in my sketchbook as quickly as I can.  I can feel, literally feel, that creative energy flowing in me.

I hope that all of you have experienced this feeling.  If not, seek out those places where you can calm and center your mind.  Breath, slowly.  Listen to music.  Find a quiet place where you can still all those distracting voices in your head and just breath.  Looking at the mountains, the trees, our sunrises and sunsets, the patterns clouds create…..those help me to find my creativity.  Even swimming laps or cycling hushes the distracting thoughts that can impair my creativity.  I must admit it’s difficult to capture anything as I would like when I’m swimming or cycling, yet I’ve been able to retain those thoughts until I can find my sketchbook.  Whew.

These techniques are not something that I have perfected, they have become a starting point for me and with practice, allow me to tap into a creative channel.

Today I would like to share the first in a new series.  The design inspiration came from those beautiful Dendritic Opal stones I discussed in my Discovery post.  Ironically, I have yet to use one of those stones in this series.  Yet this first one, Evening Moon, is very special.  It is an Amethyst Sage that Mark Lasater of The Clamshell gave me.  When someone gives me a stone, whatever I make will become mine, so Evening Moon will remain with me.  It is very special.

Evening Moon
Tree-Scapes
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

The design came from what I could see in those other stones and also in this one. Trees. I carried some of the trees from this stone and added the texture to ‘create’ the leaves.  The technique that I used to create the tree trunks and branches is called ‘piercing’.  The bottom tree trunk is a replica of the one I see in this stone that is right in front of the white moon.

The shape of the setting does not follow the stone.  This is a shape I have been drawing in my sketch books almost from the beginning of my metalsmithing work.  I love this shape.  To have the stone offset from the center of the sterling silver was important to me.  I wanted the area in the lower left for the accent of the trees.  I kept the oxidation light as I wanted some of the silver to be light and emphasize the beauty of this stone.

I feel that I have been open to this aspect of being creative.  A new direction.  It is a continuation of what I have experienced throughout my life; growth, change, finding myself.  For some, things appear to happen quickly.  For others, like me, it takes time.  I am enjoying the journey.

I hope that some of you will share your thoughts and experiences on being open to creativity.  What are your challenges?  What techniques do you employ to bring your creativity to the forefront?

Please remember how important it is to be open to tapping into the creative channel.  It is out there, just waiting for you.

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

Check out my latest and greatest hammers and forming blocks from NC Black!

This past Sunday, I was able to attend a demo by Andrea Kennington & Les Bryant of NC Black, which took place at Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs.

As many of you know, I love tools.  I have wanted to explore some additional metalworking techniques ever since Annie of NC Black did some demos at our Colorado Metalsmithing Conference this past July.  Now I have what is considered a starter set of their mini forming tools and I will be practicing….a lot!

The techniques that I will be exploring and learning are called shell forming:   anticlastic raising and synclastic metal forming.

Michael Good is probably best know for his anticlastic work.  Betty Helen Longhi’s work shows more beautiful examples of the synclastic style.  For a good overview on these metal forming techniques, visit these Ganoksin links:

Right now I’m not sure how I will incorporate these techniques in my work.  I love  learning new things.  It is good for me to challenge myself and see how these techniques may be applied to my future works.

Andrea is one of my Facebook friends, so it was great to meet her in person.  She shared a number of things about herself and the company she formed, that added to my respect and admiration of her.

I would like to share a bit of Andrea’s story.  She apprenticed under Betty Helen Longhi and was a production jeweler for many years.  She would teach a few workshops each year.  For those workshops, she made the tools the students would need to use and those tools would be part of the student’s kit that they would take home after the workshop.  She said she never set out to make hammers.  She made a limited number of them each year for the workshops she taught.  But demand for those tools increased and she really didn’t have the time, people or facility to produce hammers.  That all changed….

When the economy took its toll on a few of her friends (they were laid off), that became the impetus for a partnership to form NC Black.  The tool manufacturing company started 31 months ago and  today employs around 18 people.  Impressive.

There is a direction that many artists in the United States are advocating and that is buy American made products.  Andrea is supporting that cause with NC Black, using steel and wood from the US.

Here are a few examples of the work Andrea and Les demonstrated for us.

I shot a few video clips so I can refer back to them as I practice.  I wanted to share this one as an example of one of the techniques they demonstrated.

Next March, they will be back in Colorado Springs at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts to teach a workshop and I am ready to sign up.  One of the encouraging things Les told us was that one could pick up these techniques in about 4 hours.  Now, mastery of them comes with a ton of practice.  We all have to start somewhere, right?

I definitely like the quality of their tools.  An added bonus for me is knowing the people behind the company.  It was a pleasure Andrea and Les!  Looking forward to spring 2012 when you return to Colorado Springs.  I am an eager student.

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

Do you find yourself discovering new paths every day?

I find that I am and it gives me a great sense of renewal.

Every day is a gift.  What we do during that 24 hour span is our choice.  Free will.  Some days are squandered.  Some days are tremendously productive.

I think that Steve Jobs passing last week has given me even more introspective reflection and a hunger, thirst to make every day count.  Sometimes, that may not be completely possible, yet I believe it is vitally important.  None of us know how much time we have here.   Our words and actions may have an impact or influence on those we meet each day.  We may never know or one day someone may share that something we did had a positive impact on them.

Do you think Steve Jobs fully realized his impact on our lives?  Maybe he did to some degree, but I cannot help but think that he may not have realized the full extent his innovations and insights had on our daily existence.  Personally, I believe his influence will be felt for many, many years.

I know I am on a Discovery path.  Coming off of the Jewelry at the Gardens event last weekend, seeing all the creative spirits there, I am inspired to continue to grow even more as an artist.  That growth will bring about new revelations for me and where I will take my work.

The photo at the top of this post shows a few of the Dendritic Opal stones I purchased from Mark & Christa Lasater of The Clam Shell last month at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show.  When I first saw these, a idea for a new series started to flicker in my mind’s eye and then the floodgate of designs opened.  Not a single design has been sketched, but I can clearly see what I will be doing.

Discovery.  The possibilities.

Do you hunger for this sense of Discovery in your life?  I hope you will share your thoughts on this topic.  For me this sense of Discovery is part of what makes humans so complex, unique, and interesting.  If you haven’t found that hunger in your lives, I encourage you to do so.

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


Oasis
Veracity Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

This evening will be the opening reception at the Denver Botanic Gardens for Colorado Metalsmithing Association’s Jewelry at the Gardens. I think it is one of my favorite events.

I have a number of new additions to the Veracity Series and I thought it would be fun to show a couple that will be available this weekend.

Oasis, pictured at the top of this post, is an unusual Imperial Jasper that I purchased from Gary B Wilson. The patterns in the stone remind me of an Oasis which is how this piece received its title.


Being
Veracity Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Being is a beautiful Savannah Jasper. It reminds me of a quiet stillness of just being there, in the moment.

Both of these pendants are set in copper with sterling.   I have started to use stainless steel necklaces, rather than silver, because of the fluctuating price of silver.  They seem to be well received, yet I do have a few silver necklaces available if that is a customer’s preference.

The Jewelry at the Gardens Show has become one of those wonderful events where you have an opportunity to see the works of many outstanding talents.  I am honored to be included in the group.

If you live in Denver, Colorado or the surrounding area, I hope you will have a chance to see this show.  The Gardens have so much to offer in addition to the many events on their calendar.

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

I think this sums it up for me and these are words I will strive to live by the rest of my life.

Thank you Steve for changing our lives and making the world a better place.

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

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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