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Reaching For The Sky
Treescapes
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

I am happy to announce that three pieces from my Treescape Series have been accepted into the Arvada Center’s  2013 exhibit entitled Art of the State, a juried exhibition of Colorado artists.  Last month, Sean Brown shared with our group, Colorado Creative Connections on Facebook, the call for entries for this exhibit.  Reading the prospectus, I thought this would be a great venue for my work to be seen, so I applied.  It is such an honor for me to have my work selected from all of the entries.   There were 588 artist applications with 1,635 works submitted.  The jurors selected 195 artworks by 162 artists.  I know there are times in our lives, as artists, that this kind of affirmation is truly humbling and this certainly is for me.

Reaching for the Sky, pictured at the top of this post, is the one of the three pendants that will be shown in this upcoming exhibit.  The stone is one of my favorites, Dendritic Opal.  Those little dendrites formed another beautiful tree, that I see reaching for the sky.  In the upper left hand corner of this stone I see a subdued sun.  The setting is sterling silver with a light oxidation.


The Journey
Treescapes
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

Next in the group is a beautifully pale Porcelain Jasper.  I see a bluff in the background, pale pink & lavender sky with a few clouds.  The white plains leading up to the bluff have some scattered rocks and there is the trail leading one to the bluff.  In my mind, I envision a great journey to get there.  A small evolution in Treescapes here, no trees!  I did texture the back plate of this setting and added the wire frame that gives it some of the characteristics found in Treescapes.


Still Standing
Treescapes
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

You may remember Still Standing from an earlier post this past July….my tribute to the fire fighters who battled the Waldo Canyon Fire.  Amethyst sage set in sterling silver with a faceted amethyst tube set.

It certainly seems that 2013 will be a remarkable year.  All three of these Treescape pendants will be on display and available for sale at the Arvada Exhibit that will run from January to March 2013.  I will provide more details as the dates draw near.

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

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Still Standing ~ Treespcapes
Photography: Daniel Krucoff

There is a lot of symbolism in this piece for me.  Last week, the Waldo Canyon fire demanded the attention of most of us in the Colorado Springs area.  The worst fire in the history of the state of Colorado; 346 homes were completely destroyed, 3 lives extinguished.  Yet there were symbols of faith, courage, bravery and endurance by the fire fighters, the residents, the city, our employers, our children and many more.

Thankfully, Dan and I, along with our bassets are safe.  We live out on the plains of the Black Forest, north east of the city and a good 20+ miles from where the fire was.  It is 95% contained as I write this.  Dan & I know some that lost their homes, others who were displaced for a period of time.  Life interrupted and for some …. forever changed.  Some things survived like a special plaque that was part of a couple’s home.  They will use this plaque as the cornerstone for their next home when they rebuild.  All of us were affected by the fire in some form or fashion.


HEARTS KEEP
Through any storm
in any season
I will shelter you.

Last week, my heart wasn’t in the right place to write a blog post and talk about another piece in my Treescape series.   This week, it is important that I share this piece with you and I call it Still Standing.  A symbol of how people endure devastation and a tribute to the brave firefighters who did so much and continue to work tirelessly to fight and fully contain the fire.   From the beautiful sentiment, conveyed in the plaque pictured above, I am envisioning another piece.

Still Standing.  The stone is amethyst sage with dendrites forming that tree that is still standing amidst the ruin.  In the upper left hand corner, the yellow portion of this stone symbolizes the light that shines on that survivor.

While I made this piece over a month ago, it was this week that it called to me with its theme, what it represents.

A photographer captured the fire’s assault on the city over the first 5 days of its existence.  You can watch it here and when you see minutes 7 – 8, that’s when 65 mph winds drove it at a frenzied pace destroying so many homes.

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

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.


Inner Strength
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

This was one of those stones. I found it at Gary B Wilson’s booth during April when he, Kathy, and Jesse were in Denver for Beadfest. It caught my eye immediately and I just knew I had to come up with a design that wouldn’t detract from the beauty of the stone. I went through so many sketches, that I will share here. I’m a little embarrassed to show some of these sketches, however, I think it is important/relevant for those who read my blog to understand the journey I take with a piece as I bring it to its final state.  Plus one of the goals I have with this blog is to document my journey as a metalsmith.  I hope you will enjoy my creative journey with Inner Strength.

The stone is an Amethyst Sage.  I’ve never seen one quite like this.  The markings within the stone are so beautiful. And that shade of purple, more lavender, is so rich and lush to me.  As many of you know, I have a passion for all things purple.

I truly struggled with finding the right design.  Here’s the first one.

Whew, is that like the flying red horse logo that Mobile gas had eons ago?  Ok, I just carbon dated myself with that one.  For those of you scratching your heads, here’s the logo I’m referring to….

Oh sure, now you can see the resemblance!  When I was a kid I loved horses, this was one of my favorite horse images, so maybe it crept into that initial design?

Well, I scrapped that one and moved on to these…..

Ya, I just couldn’t get that flying horse out of my mind yet, could I?  I did like the one in the bottom of this, but my gut was telling me it was too busy with that gorgeous stone.

Then I went off and tried some stone pairings to see if that was a way to go….

Pretty, yes, but it just wasn’t speaking to me.  Back to the drawing board, literally!

I thought I was getting somewhere now. I have this thing for two pieces that create movement, plus I really like what a tube set (that little circle at the bottom right of the sketch) does with a little faceted stone. But, for me the stone was upside down. I wanted it to have a different orientation that I felt was a better presentation of the markings within the stone.

Definitely more progress. The stone’s orientation is what I wanted. I still had a little tube set accent. I just wasn’t satisfied.

Almost there! There was a piece of broom casting that reminded me of Delicate Arch in Utah. I thought it was a great compliment to the stone. I still felt like something was missing.

Found it!  One of those moments.  I had done enough to get my subconscious working.  I think reticulated silver is gorgeous and all of a sudden I could see how the folds of silver would compliment the markings within the stone.  My ah-ha moment!  I had this beautiful reticulation that I had made during the Harold O’Connor workshop and one piece was made for this stone.  Plus I could include that little piece of broom casting too.  I gave up the tube set, but you know, that was ok.

I love the way the oxidation turned out on the piece too; nice subtle colors to compliment the stone.

On September 16, I wore Inner Strength to the Denver Gem & Mineral Show and got to show it to Gary, Kathy and Jesse.  The highest compliment I could have received was when Gary, who cut this beautiful stone, told me that I did a great job with its setting.  Kathy & Jesse also complimented me on this piece.  Talk about making my day.  Thank you Gary, Kathy & Jesse!

I am finding too that Dan continues to exceed my expectations when he photographs my work.  He is one awesome photographer in my book!

I hope you enjoyed reading about Inner Strength’s journey to fruition.  Why Inner Strength?  I think we all have more inner strength than we know.  Persistence is the key to so many things in life and it definitely enhances ones Inner Strength.  This is part of my Timeless Series.

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


Imperial Jasper

Yesterday, I went to The Rocky Mountain Bead Society’s 2010 Bead Bazaar at the Denver Merchandise Mart.  That was no small feat considering the surprise winter storm that came through the area on Friday and Saturday.  Fortunately, my dear friend and mentor, Lexi Erickson, offered to let me spend the night if I could manage to get up to Denver.  There was a 2-3 hour break in the weather that allowed me to make it to Denver on Friday evening.  Thank you Lexi & Mark!  Lexi and I had been planning on going to this bead event for a while because  Gary B Wilson and his wife Kathy would be there with his cabochons.  Both of us were on the hunt for fabulous stones that would be perfect for a show we will be doing at the Botanical Gardens this fall, along with another 20+ members of Colorado Metalsmiths Association.

This Imperial Jasper was one of my key finds.  I spent a good hour looking for the right stones for the work I have in mind for this upcoming show.  It was a while before I found it, but when I did I thought it was magnificent.  It’s larger than anything I’ve ever done.  It makes a statement.  And it definitely shows Gary’s care and craftsmanship as a stone cutter.  The thing is, I put it back, thinking it was too bold, too much for me to try.  Lexi and I walked around the show while Kathy & her daughter were tallying our bill.  The image of this stone started to haunt me and just got stronger in my mind.  Lexi has told me if you find that one stone that speaks to you, get it or it will always call to you.

We sat at one of the lunch tables to rest and I told her about this stone.  She had seen it and knew which one I was talking about.  I told her it was haunting me.  She said if it was one of those stones, then I needed to get it.  I thought if it was still there, it was meant to be.  As the picture confirms, I have this stone in my possession.  I want it to be my standout piece for this fall show.

This picture, and the others in this post, are ones I have taken as part of my inventory process.  They don’t do the stones justice but I can tell you for a fact that they are beautiful.  They have been cut by a master.  Gary has a way of bringing out elements in a stone that are perfect for the Art Jeweler.  Now his work is done and mine begins with designs and metal work to enhance the beauty of these stones.  The next time you see any of these stones, they will be in their settings and Dan will take those wonderful photographs that he does that does justice to the work.


More Imperial Jaspers

The rich forest green shades in these Imperial Jaspers were too hard for me to resist. There is a pair that should make a wonderful set of earrings as companions to the big stone pictured at the beginning of this post.  I am exited about the possibilities for this new work.  I have this sense that some of these are perfect fits for my Soul Searching Series.  Time will tell.


Amethyst Sage

This time I indulged my love of purple more than I allowed myself at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show. These two are a couple of my favorites. The one on the left is a very striking stone; it has a lot of depth.  These are the types of things that Gary does with his work.  If you ever have an opportunity to see his work in person, please do so.  And introduce yourself to Gary and his wife, Kathy.  They are good people.


Red Jaspers


Lexi has gotten me hooked on Red Jaspers. She found that heart shaped stone and in my box it went. Hearts have proven to be a real design challenge for me, so we’ll see how I do with this one.  I know she likes to challenge me so I am certain that is why this heart came my way.

I had to share some of Gary’s work.  It’s time for me to get busy!

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


Tranquil Moments
Spirit Series
Photograph ~ Daniel Krucoff
Available ~ $165.00 + shipping

Another series, this one is simply called Spirit. My intent with this series is to capture the essence of ones’ spirit in a given moment. Once a piece is completed, if I haven’t felt the title during its creation, I look at it waiting to hear what it represents. These earrings were one of those works that waited until they were complete. I knew they symbolized Tranquil Moments, because I experienced a calming effect as I looked at them.  They are the first in this Spirit Series.

The stones are a combination of Amethyst Sage and Amethyst.  Purple on purple, what could be better?  Set in Sterling Silver, the metal has been oxidized creating a bit of a gold colored hue in the process.  I think the color showcases the purples well.  The Amethyst Sage stones had a bit of tan/gold toward the bottom of them too.  The posts are sterling silver with sterling ear backs.

This time I didn’t feel compelled to texture the metal; I just wanted a clean and simple line to compliment the simplicity of the stones.  The shape is somewhat similar to Binary Sunshine from my last post.

I hope you like these, as there will be more to follow in my Spirit Series.

Until next time, Aspire to be more as an Artist and a Person.


Emergence
Soul Searching Series
Photograph Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Another piece from my Soul Searching Series, I call this one Emergence.  The stone is an Amethyst Sage with Dendrites that I purchased from The Clam Shell, while attending the Denver Gem and Mineral Show in September.  I think this is my favorite piece to date.  It evolved as my work tends to do.  I find the stone captivating.

The reason I called this one Emergence is because I see a beautiful white cloud emerging from the stormy surface of a planet….as if a creative spirit has been freed from its bindings and released from the surface that has deep purple and rich rusts that comprise its surface.  It was a very freeing experience for me as I worked on this piece.  Why?  Well, it became more than the original design as I show in this next photo.

Working with metal has opened so many doors for me.  I really do work on my designs for the stones and I don’t just start something without a plan anymore.  I tended to not have specific designs in mind with the wire wrapped glass pieces I made.  Those wire wrapped pieces did turn out rather free form, which worked.  But now that I work with metal and stone, I can’t take that kind of cavalier approach anymore.

As you may have noticed, there are three textured sections in the final piece, not just two.  When the metal was ready for soldering, I looked at it with the stone and realized it wasn’t balanced.  The famous/infamous threes in art!  Keep the balance.  This was part of the fun for me in this piece.  I drew what I felt was the appropriate accent on the right side of the piece to draw attention to the shape of the stone and balance this pendant.  I found it worked.  And it made me very happy to realize that I could still capture some of that free ‘spirit-ness’ that made my wire wrap so unique.  I like carrying that into my metal work too!

I used Sterling Silver for the setting and applied liver of sulfur gel, with a hint of ammonia, to create the rainbow of colors that you see on the metal.  A couple of the textured components were overlaid to create the depth. And I really like adding the diamond shaped pieces of silver at the bottom.  I love the way this one moves too.

This piece truly symbolizes how I feel about my artistic spirit emerging as I grow with metal.  It wouldn’t be complete without me mentioning Lexi Erickson, my teacher/friend/mentor/sister.  She nurtures and nourishes me as a metalsmith, a person, an artist, and a friend.  Thank you Lexi!

I have been absent over the Thanksgiving holiday, but rest assured that I have more pieces in the works.  I look forward to sharing them with you soon.

Until the 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!

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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