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benchtoppieces

Every day is a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance for growth and unexpected opportunities. I want to encourage you to embrace each day with all the possibilities it holds for you. Please don’t limit yourself to the mindset that at the start of a new year, you have the chance to effect change in your life because you can take positive steps every single day!

I want to share something I recently read from Dr Wayne Dyer’s A New Way of Thinking, a New Way of Being.

Waste no opportunities. This is called following the light.

Several years ago when I was just starting my journey as a metalsmith, I attended one of the Colorado Metalsmith’s conferences. I wasn’t completely sure why I should attend the conference, but it was an opportunity for me to hear some prominent artists. One of the conference speakers was an extremely gifted metalsmith, Judith Kaufman. I was in awe of her work, her talent and her process. I still am.

kaufmanatconference

Judith shared how she got started. She was only 13 or 14, and she recalled how she used to sit at the bench and just play with putting components together. I was in awe. How could she do that and come up with such gorgeous creations? At that time, I was still dutifully sketching my designs, too afraid to try anything without a design. Hindsight is 20/20 and now I realized I was frozen by my own fear.

I listened, took some photos of her speaking and others of the slides she used in her presentation. She shared the quote by Isamu Noguchi in the picture above. It puzzled me. Again, I had self-imposed constraints on my art and was limiting my potential to create what was really in my soul. Now I get it. It takes time. Some grow faster than others. That’s ok, remember….a new day, another opportunity for growth!

So 2017 has arrived. Toward the last week of 2016, I was sitting at my bench, playing with components I had made. I was putting pieces together without designs in mind; check out the photo of my bench block at the top of this post. Initially, I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing. All of a sudden it hit me. How freeing and exhilarating. And then I remembered this is what Judith did and continues to do. Ok, that’s brilliant. Oh yes, and so much fun to play during the act of creating something beautiful….child-like in some ways.

I believe I’m following the light. It’s such a rush. Just let the creativity flow. That’s why it’s so important to just spend 5 minutes a day in your studio. Those 5 minutes can turn into something truly magical in what you are called to create.

Yes it’s a new year. Remember this, every day you wake, you are given a new opportunity to bring about positive change in your life. Please don’t limit yourself. Let go of that fear. Follow the light. Live!

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


My Studio

This past weekend was our inaugural Open Studio Tour. I was very happy to be a part of this first year and I am looking forward to next year, as more artists will join us for the tour.

I thought it would be fun to share some of what the visitors to my studio saw.

The top photo shows my main work areas, along with some of the artwork displayed above my bench.  I have posters from the Jewelry at the Garden shows (past and upcoming), along with a signed poster from this year’s Colorado Metalsmith Conference presenters.  As you can see my bench is just a short distance from my soldering station.  Good lighting is a must for me.


Displays with Completed Works

As people entered our home, I had displays set up with some of my completed pieces. I had an email sign up sheet, along with some metalsmithing books and one of my sketch books. This allowed people to get a feel for some of my work and if they were so inclined, they could purchase a piece and become a collector!  I could tell people really enjoyed leafing through the sketch book and I had one completed piece next to the original sketch.


My Bench

The real heart of the studio is my bench. I had several works in progress and was able to demonstrate how I would cut out designs with my saw.  Oh yes, and look at those wonderful hammers on my peg board.  Nice!  Even if I do say so myself.


My Soldering Station

I was more than willing to demonstrate soldering, but it seemed like everyone one had a fairly healthy respect for the torch. I hope that next year I will be able to fire up my torch and show everyone what it does.  I am the only one in the world with this purple soldering station and lazy susan that holds my fire brick.  If you want a soldering station (offered in neutral tan), contact Lexi through her website….safety in a metalsmith’s studio is worth it and a definite must!


More tools

The rolling mill,  in the lower left hand corner of this photo, drew lots of attention. I had a few things set up to show how I texture with both the rolling mill and the use of my anvil with hammers.  The dapping blocks garnered a few oohs and aahs too. There are so many aspects to metalsmithing that I couldn’t demonstrate everything, yet I feel like a was able to provide some insights about what goes into creating my works.  A few more sketch books to view, along with some of the recently acquired stones from the Denver Gem & Mineral Show.


Inspiration Wall

My collection from some of my favorite artists. Every time I’m in the studio I look at these works. I find it both comforting and inspirational. Here you can see the works of Don Michael Jr, Tracey Clarke, Karen Phipps, Deborah Younglao, my very own Daniel Krucoff, Shiela Tajima-Shadle, and Linda Steider….friends and fellow artists.

Considering where we live, I feel like we had good attendance for both days of the tour.  I cannot say enough good things about Nancy Bonig, who is not only a gifted and talented glass artist, but one of the hardest working, driving forces I have ever met.  Without Nancy’s efforts, this tour would never have gotten off the ground.  I am so thankful to call Nancy a very dear friend.  I can only imagine where the tour goes from here.

Dan was, as Nancy likes to say, my handsome assistant for both days.  I am so very appreciative of his help this past weekend; could not have done this without him.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my studio and maybe next year, those of you who live close to us will have a chance to visit me and the other artists participating in the tour.  Bring your friends and family as it’s a great opportunity to discuss art with the artists.

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

Continuing with my trend of random thoughts since the Colorado Metalsmithing Conference.

Again, I must revisit Saturday night.  As I mentioned in my first post about this year’s conference, that evening was when the real magic happened for me.  In Harold O’Connor’s studio, with other metalsmiths and my dear sister Lexi, listening to one of the true masters of their craft.  It was profound.  Harold was sitting in his bench chair and he said the word, “Art”.  Simple, clear, distinct.  It resonated in my mind and my soul…. to the very center of my being.  “Art”.  And then he went on…he doesn’t ‘like’ jewelry, he doesn’t wear it and he doesn’t make it, he creates works of “Art”….wearable works of “Art”.

Harold

At one point, he got up and went over to another area of his work shop.  He started to pull out his sketch books.  Filled with designs.  He leafed through them with me looking over his shoulder.  Occasionally he would stop on a page and make sure I saw a certain drawing.  I was so touched that he took the time to share.  He discussed how he starts with designs.  He also mentioned how he too suffers occasionally from the dreaded artist block. All of his works are one of a kind, yet he will occasionally return to a certain design and change it up.  I had a golden opportunity to view three of his sketch books.  I hope this helps to convey why the evening was magical for me.  Being able to view his “Art” works.  Clean, pure, simple designs.  It was all about the metal, with an occasional stone.  I was humbled and honored that he would take the time to go through some of his journals, sharing them with us.

Art

What else needs to be said?

For my work to grow and be more meaningful, I realized that I too must strive to create “Art”, yes, wearable works of “Art”.

Thank you Harold, it was a privilege and a moment in time (to quote Lexi), that I will always remember.

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

Continuing with my random thoughts about what I experienced at the Colorado Metalsmtihing Conference, this one came to the forefront more than once.  Do you think like an artist?

Part of me feels like my answer to this is, no, not yet.  However, I know that I do think like an artist, just not to the extent that our presenters do.  From my perspective, doing a bit of self-evaluation, I do not feel that I am fully engaged in thinking like an artist every day.  After this conference, I want to….I need to think more like an artist every single day!

Perhaps it is because I am pretty equally balanced with the whole right brain (creative) / left brain (logical) thinking process.  I consistently land smack dab in the middle any time I take one of those tests that evaluate which side of the brain dominates your thought process.  I’m sure that is why I am fairly comfortable switching gears from being a geek by day (left brain thinking) to being an artist by night (right brain thinking).

Yet now I have this awareness, an insight into an area I want to address to become a better artist.  That enlightenment came with the first presenter at the conference, Judith Kaufman.


Judith Kaufman

When Judith was 13, her mother signed her up for some metalsmithing classes and from that point on, she was hooked.  She spent almost every free moment in their basement, working on things, refining her technique and how she created her designs.

Judith doesn’t sketch; she doesn’t draw her designs.  As a matter of fact, she said she doesn’t draw well.  I found that very interesting and bit reassuring, because I don’t feel like I draw well either, yet I do sketch things out.  Ever since I started metalwork, I have felt the need to have a clear path of what I wanted to do before I started to work on a piece.  Perhaps that is the logical part of my mind, satisfying the need to have that clear direction. Yet, this isn’t the way Judith works and as she showed us how she approaches her work, I had one of my many ah ha moments.  I realized that she thinks like an artist all the time!  Well, of course she does.

On her workbench, she lays out a variety of gem stones, previously assembled bits and pieces and just searches through them until one of them speaks to her.  She will pull that one out and start looking for something to pair with it.  So the process continues until she has her next work in front of her.  As she said, she doesn’t sketch but she does sort through the myriad of shapes, colors and textures until she finds the right matches and off she goes to make something breathtakingly stunning.  That spoke volumes to me about thinking like an artist.

She commented that as she looks at a completed piece, she could trace back to where the inspiration came from.  When she would see something, it was some how tucked away in her subconscious and would manifest itself in these creations as she searched through her table top of treasures.  Unconsciously, she was searching for the right components to replicate something she has seen.  She said, find beauty in the mundane.  Interesting concept, right?  Once a piece was completed, it took her back to that thing that had inspired it.  She provided this quote that pretty much sums up that principle:

She showed photos of things that inspired her pieces, one came from rain drops, another from some tree branches.  Now I didn’t think any of these things were mundane, but I guess for some they are.  As she discussed these things, I realized how much I need to exercise the right side of my brain to think more like an artist.  Be open every day to taking things into your mind and appreciate the small details of beauty that exist in the most common things you see.  I think it takes practice, but I want to do that every day until it is ingrained into the way I process information.

Judith Post Presentation

This way of viewing the world reminds me of some of the vacations Dan & I have taken to some of our National Parks like Bryce, Zion, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.  People would rush from their cars, snap a couple of pictures of a breathtaking waterfall or magnificent mountain and then scurry back to their car to quickly head off to another place.  They would spend less than 5 minutes in some of the most spectacular places.  Why bother to make the trip at all?

For Dan & I, our approach is to linger…take it all in.  You just traveled hundreds of miles, spend some time to see the vistas, experience nature.  Cameras in hand, we would hike, drinking in as many aspects of the scenery as we could.  Large and small scale.  Truly “taking time to smell the roses”.  Savor that dew covered leaf, the mist from the tremendous force of a waterfall, stop and watch a moose in a pond…knowing full well that she was aware of us, but allowed us the honor of watching her in her element.  Slow down, take life in and now, more so than ever before, I want to convey those things in my work.  Think like an artist.

As I reflect on this, I am realizing that I do think like an artist more than I thought.  Perhaps these artistic Olympians at our conference have just put the spotlight on my need to be even more artistic.

To be continued…..

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

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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