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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’m still capturing my thoughts and experiences from the Colorado Metalsmithing Conference last weekend.  Thankfully, as I have journaled about these here, I have found some of the clarity I wanted to achieve.  From some of the feedback on these posts, I think the rest of you are enjoying this journey too?

Hoss Haley

Hoss Haley was another one of our speakers and he is a blacksmith, an extremely talented metalworker artist.  There were so many things that impressed me about Hoss.  As he talked about his background, growing up on a farm in Kansas and how over the span of 20 some years he has grown as an artist, I was struct by his innovation, creativity and resourcefulness.

I know I related to him as well as I did because of my background.  My mom grew up on a farm.  Her father was a blacksmith.  From my mother’s descriptions of life on a farm, you just had to be self-sufficient.  If you needed something, you made it, grew it, did whatever was needed to get it or just did without.  When my mom was a child, there wasn’t a Wal-Mart Superstore 5 minutes down the road to go to and get what you needed.

This philosophy of do what you need to accomplish the task at hand is clearly first and foremost in Hoss’s mind.  He has built several hydraulic presses, his last one exerts 100,000 tons of pressure,  and he uses it to form the larger components of his public art works.  He’s looking to put together the components to build a new hydraulic press that exerts 200,000 tons of pressure!  Wow, imagine what he will do with that one.

Example of the scale of his public art work

He showed a video of one of his smaller presses in action, it was automated and all Hoss had to do was move the metal around as the press moved up and down on the surface.  Besides being awe struck by what the press did, seeing it in action I kept thinking, keep your fingers and hands out of the way!

He initially apprenticed with Tom Joyce and his work was greatly influenced by him.  Yet he recognized that he needed to radically change up what he did as an artist in order to have his own individuality.  He has definitely done this.

He said that he started looking at these huge sculptural works, public art works, and thought, I can do this.  He just needed a way to build things on that scale.  Here was one of the prime examples of his innovation, creativity and resourcefulness that he had learned growing up on a farm.  He broke his design ideas down to their smallest components.  That is why he would build these presses that could forge the metal in sections.  He would take these sections and piece them together as you would a jig saw puzzle.  It all came together, a little bit at a time.

The Pi Plotter

If he can’t find what he needs he builds it.  He created this one machine that calculates pi and uses this in some of his designs.  It is an arm that pivots, with a pen attached that draws these circles based on the latest pi calculations.  Each one is different and as random as the calculations.  Every time he starts it, it starts in a different position base on where the calculation starts.  Awesome stuff folks!  Again, he was looking for a machine that did this and didn’t find one out there that would do what he needed….he built it!  This guy is really super smart, innovative.

Hoss explaining the forming stake he created for the demo

Hoss was one of the presenters who did a demo after his talk.  In preparation for this demo, he worked up a couple of forming stakes to use and brought them to the conference.  He was showing us how he would form a pear, even down to the detail of how he did the leaf.  Imagine, creating a couple of rather large forming stakes just so we could benefit from watching him doing one aspect of his work.  That was terrific!

Hoss demonstrates forging

And you can definitely tell that Hoss still wields a hammer on a regular basis.  The man has ‘guns’ and he got them from hard work, NOT steroids!!!

He even does a bit of jewelry and small sculptural pieces (like that pear) that are available through galleries.  However, I think he is best known for his large sculptural works of public art.

The point he drove home for me was we are an accumulation of all aspects of our learning experiences.  Going back to the days on the farm and his progression of his artistic journey.  Innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness….each of us possess those qualities.  Be mindful of them and just think of the possibilities!  How exciting is that?

On top of all of this, he has a great sense of humor.  I truly believe he is humble about his work and all he has accomplished.  It was really energizing to listen to Hoss.

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.

the 2011 Colorado Metalsmithing Association’s (CoMA) Conference.

This past weekend I attended the annual CoMA Conference, which is held at the Steamplant in downtown Salida, Colorado.  It is one of the few places we have found that will allow open flames from the torches used in metalwork.  The weather was hot as usual and this was my second time to attend the conference since joining the organization 2 1/2 years ago.

Lexi and I were conference buddies again.  There’s nothing better than sharing these experiences with your sister/best friend.


Left to right: Avi Good, Hoss Haley, Tom Muir & Michael Zobel (Judith had another commitment)

The speakers we had this year were Michael Zobel, Judith Kaufman, Tom Muir, Hoss Haley, and Avi Good (Michael Good’s daughter).  Each one brought something unique to the table.  I know, duh, why else would they have been invited to speak?  I guess what I wasn’t prepared for was the profound impact these artists would have on me as they spoke.  While Avi isn’t an artist, she knows the business side of things and she is one of the most delightful people I have ever met.

That is just one of the great things about the CoMA conference….everyone is so approachable.  These super stars of the metalsmithing world are just regular people and don’t have body guards to keep the crowds at bay.  I was able to speak to each one on an individual basis, thank them for coming and their insights.  How awesome is that?

For me, this year’s conference was even more intense than what I experienced last year.  Today my mind is swimming with thoughts, overflowing if you will.  It feels like my brain has reached full capacity with all the sights and sounds I took  in… so much so that I don’t think one more drop of creative stimulus could be handled until I have time to digest, percolate, sort, and process the vast amounts of sensory overload I experienced.  Am I feeling a bit overwhelmed? Yes, but that’s a good thing!  😀

I’m trying to put all the parts and pieces of this experience together so it’s not so chaotic in my mind. Today I thought it was very important to write about my experiences here, because my blog is my metalsmithing journal.  The process of assessing my thoughts in writing should help put things in perspective.  I may do several posts as my thoughts gel and I’m able to elaborate on the key points.

Hopefully that helps to explain why I titled this post Random Thoughts About…. because right now I have so many random thoughts about what I experienced at this conference that I just don’t know where to begin.

I will tell you that Saturday night was magical.  I’m serious as a heart attack about that point.  A small group of us was invited to Harold O’Connor’s studio to listen to his thoughts about art, see where he creates and even ask questions.  It was a very special evening and such an honor to be included in the group of invitees.  Harold has such great talent, skill and knowledge; classically trained in Europe.  What an invaluable opportunity to listen to someone who has accomplished so much throughout his lifetime.  It is something I will always treasure.  As he spoke about his work and the concept of art, I knew I had to look at what I do as an artist from a completely new perspective.  It shook me to the core…the realization of where I am as an artist and where I want to be.  He invited our questions and answered each one.  To listen to him talking about a range of topics in his studio, well, that was a purely magical evening for me.

For now, I’ll leave this as a to be continued… as I work on getting some perspective on the impact the conference and its surrounding events had on me.

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


Tom Muir

Metalsmith

I am one of the board members for Colorado Metalsmithing Association.  Our annual conference is approaching and what I find fantastic is that we have a gifted set of presenters who will offer workshops before and after our conference.

This year, Tom Muir is one of our presenters and he will be offering a workshop on Clasps and Catches.

Dates / Time: July 19 – 21, 2011 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: Metropolitan State College – Downtown Denver CO
Cost: $350 with paid CoMA Membership
$400 non-member cost

His workshop is almost full; a maximum of 12 students is the limit.  What a great opportunity to learn from someone who is a master of their craft as a metalsmith.

In this workshop, three clasps will be explored and fabricated by participants. Creative applications and the mechanical principles that apply to catches and clasps will be developed through an examination of actual samples, slides and discussions. Students will create samples of three catches, including a key catch, bayonet clasp with stainless steel spring, and a tension catch with stainless steel pin stem.

Great opportunity to invest in yourself as a metalsmith….I certainly think so.  For more details, along with the registration form, check out the workshop information on the Colorado Metalsmiths website.

I am a firm believer in investing in yourself through continuing education.

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


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.

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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