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Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Namaste. A term I associate with my Yoga practice and feeling peaceful, happy, centered. The literal meaning of the word is “I bow to you”. However, I prefer the definition that Mandy Ingber, of Yogalosophy, provides…. “The Spirit in me salutes The Spirit in you”.

As I looked at this finished piece, I felt such a sense of peace and calm. I feel this was a subtle change in my work. I did several things I had not done before. Dan thought it best demonstrated metalwork because my design didn’t ‘feed’ off of the stones….that is their shapes or markings.

The creation of this piece took some interesting twists and turns.  I knew immediately that I liked the pairing of the round Petrified Palm Wood with the tongue shaped Imperial Jasper.  I had never set a tongue shaped stone before; when I bought it from Gary B Wilson in April, Lexi was with me and she said it was no problem.  She explained how and I laughed and said “Duh”!  Just had to think about it after she told me what I needed to do and of course it made sense.  Thanks Lexi!

This is my initial sketch of what I wanted to do.  I knew I wanted a sun like background for the round Petrified Palm Wood.  And just having the sharp edges wouldn’t work, it would need to be overlaid on a backing so the wearer wouldn’t be poked by sharp edges.

You can see from this that I was initially thinking of calling the piece ‘Leap’.  And I was concerned about the number of ‘rays’ emanating from the circle.  I showed Lexi my sketch one night during one of my lessons and she suggested that I reduce the number of ‘rays’.  She had a little sunshine charm, which I photographed, and thought I could use as an example of where I wanted to take this piece.

It definitely was where I wanted to go with the rays.  I’m certain it helped me as I worked on more sketches as shown in this next photo.

You can see I still couldn’t get away from my design to have lots of ‘rays’.  The sketch in the lower left corner became the final one for the rays.  I had never tried to saw a shape like this before and I thought, let’s give it a whirl.  I’m accepting Lexi’s philosophy of “It’s only metal”.  Hey, I can recycle any failures by broomcasting or other means, so it’s ok.  Try it, see what happens, you may be pleasantly surprised!  Well, I was very happy with the result.  Ah, but there’s more to this story….

I overlaid my ray piece on top of its rounded square back plate.  Set the bezel for the stone.  Had a bit of trouble with that bezel and there was this ‘bubble’ in the center which was telling me I wasn’t doing it right.  Things finally got to the point where I overheated the piece and it started to melt!  Oops.  But remember, “It’s only metal”.  Here’s the piece that taught me a lot from the failure…..

The arrow is pointed to the bubble.  I really liked the rays in this one too, but I still had my template from my drawing so it was ok.

I started again.  This time I drilled a hole in the center of that ray piece to allow the air to escape and prevent the bubble.  Completed the overlay of the ray on a its back plate and soldered the bezel in place.  Added a bail to the back of the top piece.  Completed the setting for the tongue piece.  Soldered the joining jump rings in place that connect the two settings.  Set the stones, oxidized the sterling and viola!  Namaste was born.

The journey to bring this piece into being was a lot of fun for me, in spite of a few set backs.  Learning and understanding how to do things appeals to me.  And I feel like I am rewarded in many ways by going through the process.

Believe me, I know how fortunate I am to have a mentor like Lexi Erickson.  Her encouragement as my teacher and closest friend is invaluable.  Dan too provides that encouragement and support as I work in the studio and come out for breaks or discussions about what I am doing.  Of course, the bassets are my studio mascots and there is at least one of them in there while I’m working….sometimes underfoot…..sometimes sleeping at my feet.

Remember, failure is as much a part of life as success.  If we accept that failures are showing us a better direction, a better way if you will, it becomes a winning situation for us.  Embrace the journey.

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


Defining Moment

Spirit Series
Photograph ~ Daniel Krucoff
My Personal Collection

During the month of January, my mentor, Lexi Erickson, gave me an assignment.  It was a true challenge and she knew it, as I did, but little did I comprehend at the time what a challenge it was.  She wanted me to create a bracelet of stones.  It was up to me to pick the stones, what colors, stones, shapes would go well together.  Decide how I was to join the set stones together, how I would finish the piece, what the toggle/clasp would be…all the details, my decision.  Hmmmm.  BIG Challenge.

Lexi’s friend, Nancy Blair, makes these drop dead gorgeous bracelets.  Lexi has one.  She told me it had soul.  I get that now.
Here’s a photo I took of Lexi’s bracelet…it doesn’t do it justice, but I’d like to share so you can see hers.

How was my piece going to have soul?  My piece took its first breath last night.  This piece has touched me deeply.  It has humbled me and I take pride in this accomplishment, yet it will always keep me humble every time I look at it.

Giving this bracelet a name was difficult because of my journey with it.  There were times I called it @!#$%&*!.  I knew with each step backward or at times steps backward, I just knew I could do it.  So as I thought of a name, I thought… Sheer Will and Determination, No Guts No Glory, Blood Sweat & Tears (although I really didn’t cry during its construction and my disappointments), Strong Will and then, this morning, it hit me….. Defining Moment.  Yes!  That was it!  This piece is one of those wonderful defining moments in my life.  I hope you have had them as they are refreshing, encouraging, and provide that wonderful feeling of hope.  This is my Defining Moment as a metalsmith.

I have a lot I would like to share about this piece and I hope you will enjoy reading about it.  I would like this to provide encouragement to all of you with your struggles and remember to never, never give up because the end result is well worth all the pain of stretching you endure in the journey.

Creating this piece of art jewelry has taught me so much, it humbled me, it lifted me, it challenged me.

I feel compelled to share the following as it all ties together.  My mother insisted that I learn how to sew and so, the summer after 8th grade I began my lessons.  When I started to sew, with each project, I tried to learn a new technique.  My defining moment with sewing was when I made my first coat.  After I did that I knew I could sew anything.

With stained glass, I didn’t have my defining moment until I finished the 3′ circular window of the Grand Tetons that hangs in the front of our home.  It showed me that I could draw, design, use glass to create the effects I want.

The Grand Tetons

With fused glass, I think Winter became my defining moment.  I could finally see my style…the thing we constantly hear about as artists.   I acknowledge that I have lots to learn about fused glass, but I know what my style is.


I certainly realize I have a long way to go, learn, and grow as a metalsmith, BUT this bracelet has shown me that I can create what I envision in my mind.  When I suffer from those moments of self-doubt, all I need to do is look at this bracelet and realize that I can do it….time, perseverance, strong will, sheer determination….if I put my mind to it, I can do it.  I’ve done that my entire life.

The first time I realized I could do whatever I put my mind to do was in 9th grade.  Until then I had never been a particularly strong student, but Mr. Martin’s Algebra class awakened a thirst for knowledge and a joy in learning.  He challenged our class and I truly believe each of us had a blast.  That was the first year I earned straight A’s.  I learned some valuable life lessons then and I continue to apply them today.

All that being said, would you like to see where this idea started and how it brought me to the finished piece?  I hope you’ve said yes.

I knew this bracelet was going to be mine, not something I would offer for sale.  You know that first time you do something and all the ‘incidents’ that happen.  So I thought, why not make something with all the purple stones I have.  I do have lots of Tiffany Stones and I toyed around with designs.  The one pictured above was too long and just didn’t feel right.  It actually had too many stones in it.

Here’s another variation on Tiffany Stones.  Just didn’t look right.  Plus, I knew Lexi was headed to Tuscon and I came up with a drawing of several bracelet designs….if I only had the stones.  Lexi being Lexi was more than willing to come to my aid.  I started to think of other stone choices.  I love Picasso Stone, Chinese Writing Stones.  I had some, but not exactly what I thought was the right mix.  Matte finished black onyx would be a great accent.  Petrified Palm Wood?  Maybe.  So as many of you know, Lexi became my eyes and ears when she went to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show.

So these were my designs.  Looking at them now, I know I still had too many stones and was still focusing on symmetry instead of just letting go.  However, Lexi took these and scowered the show looking for stones for me.  I truly owe her a debt of gratitude.

She came back with some wonderful stone selections for me.  From the groups pictured above, a few were from my existing inventory, but a number of them were Lexi finds for me from Tucson.  You can see I was still obsessing with symmetry here.  But you can also see that the final stone selections were in this group.

Ta Da!  I finally managed to par it down to the final stone selections.  From left to right, petrified palm wood, red jasper, picasso stone (Lexi’s birthday gift to me! Yay Lexi and THANKS again… I love this stone), red creek jasper, and green tiger eye.  Whew.  I knew I wanted to extend the stones textures to the edges of the metal.  I even added Keum Boo accents to the setting for the green tiger eye.

I thought I was close here.  I had melted more bezels than ever before…more than I care to think about even now, but I overcame that and now I had beautiful bezels that were ready to provide cozy shelters for these lovely stones.  I had used 16 gauge rings, soldered to the backs of each of the settings.  They would provide stability.  I thought I had it sized correctly, but no.  When I tried it on, the bracelet had grown with the large rings I used…that whole spacing issue.  The roller coaster ride had just begun.  I had to remove all of the rings I had soldered to the backs.  Time to get creative.  I had some 18 gauge square wire that I formed into rectangle shapes using the handle of one of my files to form the rectangles.

At this point, I had taken so many  steps backward that I stopped taking progression photographs.  I had been heartbroken at times and it was becoming too painful for me to document the progression or lack thereof.  The reason I needed rectangle shapes for the joining rings was to allow sufficient space for the jump rings.  I used 3 jump rings per join and the round rings just couldn’t accommodate them and allow the bracelet to be the correct size for my narrow wrist.

I re-did all of the rings.  In the process, I soldered rings together, at one point turned the entire bracelet copper because of pins that got stuck during the soldering process and I put the piece in the pickle (acid solution to clean the metal) so the chemical reaction cause it to turn copper!  Argh, the pins were supposed to prevent things from being soldered together.  It became very frustrating.  Yet I could still envision this beautiful end result.

Last night, Thursday the 25th of March, I went to Lexi’s with my bracelet.  I had 2 jump rings that needed to be soldered and I had painstakingly cleaned, filed, sanded the bracelet.  Lexi felt my pain.  She knew she had given me a BIG CHALLENGE.  And in that 11th hour if you will, she complimented my work and I am honored to say that she soldered those two final joining rings on my bracelet.

Her soldering a portion of my bracelet will add that special place in my heart for it (and her of course).  Thank you my dear friend and mentor!

Last night I had my Homer Simpson moment of “DOH” when Lexi changed torch heads to the small one.  Oh…that’s what I had forgotten to do when I was soldering all the joins of my jump rings!  No wonder I had so much trouble.  Too much heat, too large of a flame….oh the humanity!!!!  I can assure you I will never forget to use the small head on my torch in the future for those tasks.  Boy did we laugh about that one.

I finished setting the stones, the bezels….again another stone or two benefited from Lexi’s touch in its setting and I learned yet another couple of techniques.  Clean up, followed by oxidation and I wore my bracelet home!

It’s a journey I will enthusiastically embark on again!  For now, this one will remain in my private collection and I imagine I will wear it on a daily basis.  It truly is my Defining Moment as a metalsmith.

Didn’t Dan do a great job photographing the bracelet?  He captured it oh so well.

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


My first finished piece using bronze, copper, and silver.  The cabochon is one of my fused crinklized dichroic pieces.  You may notice that the design is not the same as the original piece I was working on….well, that’s because the first one didn’t turn out.  That’s ok, I learn from my mistakes (most of the time ;)) and I think the completed design actually turned out better as a result.  Maybe it was meant to be this way?

Dan took a short video of me soldering the bezel to this piece.  The next time I try this, I will try to do a little more step by step and explanation of the process.  I edited the original clip and condensed it so it would drag on.  Leading up to this point, I decided to add three copper overlays to add some interest to the design. I think it’s just part of my personality as a designer….I have an idea of what I would like, sketch it, and then as it progresses…I see other things that need to be incorporated in the piece.  That seemed to be the case for this piece with the addition of the copper overlays.

In the video, you can see these little pieces of copper sitting on top of the back plate and they are being soldered into place at the same time the bezel is.  Solder flows toward the heat as it melts so at the end of this video, I was trying to direct the solder flow to the outside edge of the bezel to form a complete join between the bezel and the back plate.  I saved the video as a QuickTime movie and for some reason, WordPress will not permit uploading of that file format, so  here’s the short clip of my soldering
linked off my web page.

This is how the base looked after the soldering.  Kind of a mess actually, but I’ve learned that things don’t look pretty until the finishing stage.  I guess that is pretty much normal for most of the work I do, whether it’s glass or metal.  It’s almost like unwrapping a present as I work on the final completion stages.


I cleaned it up, polished it, etc for the final look you see at the top of this post.  I haven’t decided if I want to add a patina too it.  I like seeing the different metal colors and textures.  I used a very subtle texture on the bronze.  I was trying to find something to compliment the texture of the crinklized glass.  And the copper is plain, but I rounded the edges of each overlay to help soften and blend them with the rest of the piece.  The bezel is fine silver.

It’s been a great weekend.  Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful week of creativity.  Strive to be more as an artist and a person.  Until next time…Namaste and Blessings to you.

First Firing Of The Torch

Tonight was a momentous occasion for me.  I fired up my torch for the FIRST time!  Nervous?  Yes.  Exciting?  Yes.  Results? Thrilling for me!

I have read, heard, and been counseled a lot about firing up my acetylene torch.  You must respect the equipment and take the necessary precautions.  Lexi was kind enough to set up my torch system last month and as I built up my confidence to have a project that I would solder here in my studio, it was time to fire it up.

Soldering stained glass is nothing like soldering metal.  And I absolutely love to solder a stained glass window.  I have soldered jewelry with Lexi’s guidance and I was eager to do it on my own.  Lexi is known in her circles as The Torch because she is an expert solderer.  I am her apprentice in a sense and not only did I want to do justice to her mentoring, I wanted to prove that I could solder something on my own…that is without Lexi watching me do it!

Tonight, I was ready.  I am working on a piece for one of my glass cabochons that is in that lovely Crinklized dichroic glass from Coatings by Sandberg.  I love that glass.  I’ve worked on a design and now I was ready to solder the bezel for this piece.  The bezel is the component that fits around the cabochon and holds it in place on the main back piece.  You have to cut bezel ‘wire’ to just fit the cabochon.  Not too tight and with just the right about of leeway to allow for the setting of the cabochon.

My husband, Dan, was kind enough to preserve the moment in digital so at the top of this post you see me quite focused on the solder process.  The end result, the bezel is soldered together and fits the cabochon nicely.

Bezel And Cab

I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish this piece tonight, so I will end with a tickler showing you the components that will be put together to form this pendant.  In this photo, I have the bezel placed around the cabochon to confirm the proper fit.  The base plate and bail are ready; both are bronze…this is my first time working with bronze.  I find it quite lovely and rich.  It’s one of Lexi’s favorite materials and I couldn’t wait to start working with it.

The Components

My obligations are such that I may not get back to finishing this until Sunday.  So I will leave you with these views of what is to come in my next post.

Kathleen Krucoff

Artist and Metalsmith

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