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Lee Marshall’s Knew Concept Saw

You’re gonna LOVE IT!

What am I up to now?  Well, it’s something I hope you will enjoy as a diversion in my blog posts.  I also hope you will find it informative and useful.  I think a number of you know how much I love tools.  Yes, let me repeat that, I LOVE TOOLS!  Anything that makes the job easier, I’m in.

My father taught me the importance of the right tool for the job.  One of my goals with my Talkin’ Tools posts is to let you in on my treasure trove of tools that I love.  The ones that do the job and kick it when it comes to getting the work done.  That’s very important to me and I suspect it’s important to you too.

So how did I get this concept? The credit goes to my genius, Dan!  He’s always thinking.  He’s truly brilliant.

Last week as Dan & I were driving in the mountains, I was telling him that another person had contacted me about my blog post on Cliff Carroll’s Anvils that I called 35 lbs of Metalsmithing Joy.  It was one of my most popular posts last year and it continues to receive a lot of traffic from search engine hits.    I told Dan that I thought part of the reason for its popularity is people ‘google’ items and look for an unbiased opinion or review about a product. I know I do!  My hope is that I can fill a void by discussing those tools and pieces of equipment that help me when I’m working with metal.

Well, Dan is “always thinking” and he suggested that I start writing reviews about my favorite tools or equipment that I use when I’m metalsmithing.  I thought that was a great idea and I hope you concur.  This is my first post in a new Talkin’ Tools category which I plan on publishing every Friday.

Another nudge for me to start these Talkin’ Tools posts, was a comment I saw from my online metalsmithing friend, Sandy Cahill-Johnson.  Sandy had made a comment about breaking saw blades and wondered about a “Knew Saw”?  From her reference, I knew (no pun intended here) she was referring to Lee’s saws and I thought this would be a good tool to discuss.

Of course, Lexi (Erickson) introduced me to this wonderful tool almost a year ago.  Prior to that, I was using this German made saw that I purchased from Lexi during my first metalsmithing workshop with her.

It’s a nice saw.  And the first weekend I used it in Lexi’s workshop, I broke my share of saw blades.  Gotta feel the rhythm, get in the zone when you are sawing.  It comes with practice.

However Lee’s Knew Concept saw can turn a beginner into an intermediate and advanced saw handler in no time flat.  Sure you can still break a saw blade with this, but let me tell you, it’s pretty hard to do that.  I don’t want to say you have to work at it, but I think you really do have to try to break a blade.  Lexi was able to saw with the same blade for a month!  Wow.  I haven’t tracked my record for not breaking a blade, but the design is so good it forgives common errors with sawing.

Helen Driggs has written about this saw in her Tool Tips articles in Lapidary Journal.  Lexi has introduced people to the beauty of using this tool.  It truly is worth the investment.  It comes in several different sizes; I have the 5″ model and it is an all around work horse.  It is my go saw to when I start sawing metal.  Yes you still have to use bur-life or another lube to protect your blade.  I have found that it makes sawing metal like cutting butter!  Easy, easy, easy!!!

Plus, I met Lee Marshal last year at the Colorado Metalsmiths Conference in Salida, CO.  Lee is the nicest person and you can just tell he cares about the quality of his products.  He hit the bullseye with the Knew Concept Saw.  Thank you Lee!

Those metalsmiths in the crowd know how much fun putting a new saw blade in place can be.  With Lee’s Knew Concept, it is virtually effortless.  No more trying to find the right spot to position the saw so you can insert one end of a saw blade.  You know what I’m talking about!  This baby just lets you put the saw blade in position and you are ready to rock and roll.  Or maybe I should say you lock and load?!? 🙂  It’s a joy.

Staying on line and making the twist and turns as you cut out a design is a breeze.  I would highly recommend the Knew Concept saw.  If you have a chance to test drive (saw) one, go for it.  It’s an effortless leap of faith to purchase one in my book.  A number of suppliers have them, yet I went directly to the source, Lee Marshall and purchased mine.

I’d love to know if you have one and are using it? Or are you thinking about it?  If you do buy one, please let me know.  I hope you share my enthusiasm for this wonderful tool.

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

Embrace The Light
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

I feel like this is one of my most powerful pieces to date. It’s the stone that really speaks to me.

In August, my favorite stone cutter, Gary B. Wilson, introduced me to Porcelain Jasper. He knows I love purple and he had a number of these stones. I wanted to wait and see them in person when he and his family came to Denver for the Gem & Mineral Show in September. It was worth the wait.

On an unbelievably beautiful September day, Lexi & I were one of the first to visit Gary’s booth. I immediately asked him about those purple stones and he produced a tray of the lovelies. This stone was the first to catch my eye and as large as it was, I knew it would make a magnificent piece. It is part of my private collection. I have a smaller Porcelain Jasper that I acquired that day, but I knew I had a deep connection with this one and it belonged to me.

Why did I call this Embrace The Light? There is that bright spot in the stone, surrounded by what I envision to be lightening or electrical charges. For me that bright spot symbolized the light that beckons us as we leave this world. It is my belief that we embark on a new journey when we leave this world and it is the light that beckons our spirits to come and join. I was drawn to this; drawn to the light. I know, I know, never discuss religion or politics. I’m just sharing the feeling that this piece evokes in me and what I see in this particular stone.

I also felt that incorporating reticulated silver was important to accentuate those lightening bolts surrounding the light in this stone. Right now I find that I like to have at least two, if not three, moving components in a piece. Until I feel the need to move on in my current designs, I think you will continue to see this type of style in my work. I was fighting this for a while and thought, I like the look, I will continue with it until something else takes its place.

2010 has been an eye opener for me and filled with a great deal of personal & artistic growth. I am thankful for so many things. The people in my life… my soul mate, Dan, whose photographs of my work take my breath away and makes what I do look incredible! His gentle strength, support and love has seen me through many a trying time. Our delightful bassets; everyone needs a studio mascot and I have three! My terrific online friends who amaze me with their incredible talents and support. And last, but certainly not least, my dear, dear sister Lexi…without her guidance and inspiration I would be lost.

2011 can only bring more challenges, surprises and opportunities. May all of you have the Merriest of Christmases and a Joyful, Prosperous New Year.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person. You know I am. Thank you all.

The Poster for the Event

What a weekend. The weather was fantastic. I was honored and humbled to be part of this event and share the experience with so many wonderful and talented artists. It was great.

My dear friend and mentor, Lexi Erickson, asked me to design the poster and post card for this show. I happily agreed and the top picture is the poster in its final form.

Not many people can say they have done a show with Harold O’Connor. I had the good fortune to be in a show with two of my idols, Harold O’Connor and Lexi Erickson.

Harold O’Conner, me, and Lexi

I don’t think my feet were touching the ground in that picture!  And both Harold and Lexi signed a copy of the poster for me….now that’s going to be framed and hung in my studio as a reminder of a very special event and the great inspiration both of these talented individuals are to me.  Thank you Harold and Lexi.

The crowd was wonderful. I believe all of us had good sales and hopefully that is an indicator that things are turning around in the art world when it comes to the sales of our works.

Several of you have asked that I post pictures of my work that sold. Well, here goes….  Oh, and all of the photos were taken by Dan, so I’m just going to say at the beginning of all of these great photos to follow:  Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff.

My first sale of the day was a pair of reticulated earrings I called Ocean Waves. Great to have that first sale of the show.  How fitting that the first sale was also the reticulated silver that I made during my workshop with Harold in May of this year!

Ocean Waves
Timeless Series

The next sale was a pendant and a pair of earrings.

It’s a Matter of Attitude (previous blog post)
Soul Searching Series

Unidelta Tree
Tribute to Pandora Series

And then things just started to blur together…..

Binary Sunshine (previous blog post)
Tribute to Pandora Series

Puff Ball Tree
Tribute to Pandora Series

Another pair of earrings, Pendulum, that I never got a picture of before the show, so they aren’t in this group ….

Chalice Plant
Tribute to Pandora Series

And then I was completely blown away….

Dimensions in Time
Timeless Series

Yes, that’s right, one of my bracelets sold. A multitude of beautiful stones, hours of work, and its beauty was not lost on the person who bought this. She has a discerning eye, as did many of the shoppers this weekend. Coupled with that was an appreciation for the art that this bracelet represents. She also purchased Break Through (pictured below) and I know my pieces have gone to someone who understands. Actually, all of my pieces went to people who got it. What a wonderful affirmation for an artist.

Break Through
Soul Searching Series

Soul Searching Series

Pretty incredible.  The show, the weekend, the crowds, the talented artists, the beautiful venue, the experience….ALL exceeded my expectations.  I truly believe I found my audience.  It has infused me with new enthusiasm and the belief that I am on the right path as an artist.  It is my wish for all of you, my friends, to find that path we are destined to follow.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Incan Dawn
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Right now I am definitely captivated by using a tongue shaped stone with a top accent stone. For this piece, both are in the same stone family, Sonoran Sunrise. When I saw these stones a few weeks ago at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show, I knew they belonged together. As I worked on the design, I kept seeing a ceremonial Incan headdress in the top piece with the sun’s reflection. I couldn’t visualize anything else as I looked at the completed piece, so its title is Incan Dawn.

This is one of the last pieces I completed in preparation for the Jewelry at the Gardens Show this coming weekend.

Tonight I packed my display materials and everything is ready to be loaded in the car. It’s nice to have things in this state a day early so tomorrow evening won’t feel so hectic. I set up with the other artists on Friday evening. Doors open at 9 AM on Saturday morning at the Botanic Gardens in Denver and I think the weather will be cooperative this weekend too. If you are in the area, I hope to see you there.

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

Free Spirit
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

The stones are Teal Blood Stones from India. I purchased them from Michael Hendrix of Minerax at the sneak preview evening for Colorado Metalsmiths during Denver Gem and Mineral Show week last month. It was an easy pairing for me. Although both are the same stone family, they just looked like they belonged together. I couldn’t wait to pair them and set them in sterling.

Michael Hendrix is such a nice person.  He has his unique style for the stones he cuts.  And he is generous with his knowledge about the stones and why he cuts the shapes he does.  I liked his commentary on his expectations that art jewelers should look to be innovative and embrace unusual stone cuts in their designs.  Of course, I like a challenge.

Admittedly, these stones are cut in shapes that I find easy to work with, however, I did buy a few of those challenging pieces from Michael and I look forward to the creative juices kicking in as I work on their designs.

I don’t have many teal or bluish colored stones in my inventory.  However, when I saw these, I just couldn’t resist adding them.  I know I’m still finding what my true color palette is, yet part of me is resisting this….I don’t think I like the sense of feeling limited by just working with certain colors.  There are so many beautiful stones, I just don’t want to restrict what I will work with.  That may change as I continue to grow as an art jeweler.  For now, I enjoy the liberating feeling of experimenting with colors, shapes, stones, and textures.

Perhaps this experimentation led me to the title for this piece, Free Spirit.  It feels like this piece can soar high above the clouds.  As I looked at the completed work, all I could think was Free Spirit, so that is its moniker.

I felt it was necessary to keep things simple in this design because of the beautiful stones.  I textured the backdrop for the top stone and lightly oxidized the sterling settings.

Free Spirit will be available a week from tomorrow (10/16/2010), opening day for our Jewelry at the Gardens Show.  I think its a perfect piece for the setting we are so fortunate to have at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

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

New Horizons
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

These earrings represent a real departure for me from my usual work. I wanted to create something unusual, not symmetrical, and very unique. A lot of the design elements you see in these earrings, that do not match, are deliberate on my part.

I started with some square wire, forged it to flatten out and put the flat ends opposite of each other.  The bottom of the upper earring has a tube set with a silver circle, while the other one doesn’t.  The placement of the stones are at opposite ends of each wire too.  Does it feel like one of the childrens’ puzzles where you need to find the things that don’t match?  Well, I wasn’t trying to go that far, but I admit I was experimenting and trying to push myself to do something outside of my comfort zone.

The stones are Imperial Japser, and as with so many jaspers, I think they have  great vistas.  In this pair, I see the horizon in front of me.  It’s a new horizon filled with wonderful possibilities.

This was the first pair of earring stones I bought a year ago at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show from Gary B Wilson.  When I bought them, his wife Kathy said, she knew these needed to be made into earrings.  At the time I had not attempted to make earrings and I must admit I was a bit intimidated at the prospects with these stones.  However, as I started working on new pieces for the Garden Show, this design came to me (while riding my bike again) and I knew the unusual design was right for them.

As I prepare for the Jewelry at the Gardens Show, I have had a chance to put my inventory of metalwork together and review some of my past blog posts about them.  I find I feel very philosophical about my work.  It represents some strong feelings, emotions I have about life, the present, the future, and even the past.  It’s those life experiences that makes us the individuals we currently are.

This pair will be available at the show on October 16 – 17th.  Hope to see some of you there.

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

Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

In one of my previous posts on Dare to Dream, I mentioned how fond I was of the Corazon de Santa Fe. Well, with this piece I was able to incorporate that cross into it. As I looked at this finished piece and the basis for its design, I couldn’t help but think ‘Faith’. That is how this one received its title.

Two weeks ago, at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show, I purchased these stones from Gary B Wilson.  The top stone is an Ocean Jasper and the bottom tongue is a Savannah Jasper.  They paired up quickly and I felt they were the right stone combinations.  I couldn’t wait to get started on them and this design came together quickly.

Faith will be available at the Jewelry at the Garden’s Show in less than 2 weeks.  I hope it will be well received.

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

Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

This was the stone that almost got away. In April, when Gary B Wilson and his family were in Denver for Rocky Mountain Bead Bazaar, I spotted this particular stone. In fact I wrote about it in my April 25th post. It is an Imperial Jasper and I was quite enamored with it.  If you’d like to read about how it entered my collection of stones, check that April 25th post.

I knew I wanted to keep the setting clean and simple for this stone; I just wanted to showcase its beauty.  I did extend some of the stone’s markings into the surrounding metal.  The setting is sterling silver, that is lightly oxidized.

It reminds me of a calm prairie with a few wisps of grass in the foreground.  So I felt the name Serene was appropriate.

This will be one of my pieces available at the Jewelry at the Gardens in Denver on the weekend of October 16 & 17.  I’m still working on pieces for that show and will have more to post in the upcoming days and weeks after Dan photographs them.

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

Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

At the end of June, I posted some of my sketches and the stones I assembled for upcoming work. This is Harmony and was one of those in that June post.  The stones just seemed to come together in the right shapes and shades.  I kept things simple so that the stones were showcased.  The top and bottom stones are petrified wood and the center stone is a red jasper.  I thought they were the right compliment with each other and that is how I came to call this piece Harmony.  They are set in Sterling Silver that I have lightly oxidized.  I didn’t opt for texture or even a high polish on the silver for this piece.  I wanted the stones to make their own statement.

This is the first in a new series I’m calling Timeless.  As I post the next few in this series, I think it will become obvious why I settled on the theme of Timeless.  It is my hope that each piece in this series will stand on its own, no matter what the time period.

Harmony is one of my pieces that will be available at the Colorado Metalsmith’s show at the Denver Botanical Gardens in October.  That upcoming show is my current focus.  I’ve come up with a new display that isn’t your typical jewelry display for a show.  It’s still a work in progress and I will share pictures of it once it is  set up ‘real time’ at the Gardens.  For now, I’m still tweaking things to make sure it makes the right statement.  I am very excited about this show and feel it presents a great opportunity to introduce my metalwork to the public.

Back to the studio to start on a bracelet.  And yes I am very partial, but I think Dan’s photography of my work has gone to the next level.  Thank you Dan for making my work look so nice!

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

This weekend I attended the Colorado Metalsmiths Conference (CoMA) in Salida, Colorado. It was the first time I attended this event and I don’t think the enormity of what I experience has even begun to sink in yet.

The conference started on Friday afternoon and went through Sunday morning. This year was a record breaking crowd of 170 attendees from all over the United States.  I think there were even some international visitors.  I was told this event has grown tremendously.

My dear friend and mentor, Lexi Erickson, was my tour guide & constant companion for the weekend.  Thank you Lexi!

The presenters at this years conference were truly Masters of Metal. For me, the standout was Albert Paley. I couldn’t take notes fast enough as he shared his thoughts, philosophy, and work. His life’s work is jaw dropping, stunningly beautiful, masterful.  “Understand the material and its limits.”  “Find an environment to express who you are.”  “Self imposed limitations are your greatest limitation.”  Pearls of wisdom here folks!

Albert Paley

I took a number of photos and I apologize for their quality. Given the lighting at the convention center, I’m actually quite happy with the way they turned out though.

This is an example of Paley’s work, from one of the slides in his presentation.  That’s metal!  The graceful lines, the connections with all of the parts within the piece.  I am in awe.

One of my newest prized possessions is the book, Albert Paley | Portals & Gates.  He could only bring a few of his books to this conference.  And there were 170 people in the audience mind you.  At the end of the question and answer period, he said he would sign copies of the books he brought with them.  Now, I was probably about 10 rows up from the stage with Lexi and a group of friends….and we didn’t pull a “Wonder Woman” to get down there, BUT both Lexi & I found a book to purchase and have him autograph!  Talk about blessed, excited and thrilled!!!!

Now you would think that would be good, and it was, but Lexi said “Take my picture with Paley in the background”.  Of course I obliged.  Then I thought, ok, take mine!  Which Lexi did.  People thought it was quite amusing to see me in the background grinning like the Cheshire Cat.  I just couldn’t help myself!  I was so tickled to have procured not only an autographed book, but now a picture with a metalsmithing celebrity!

Albert Paley (left) and me

The next morning I was drawing Paley inspired designs in my sketch book.  Whether I can pull any of them off, remains to be seen, but I am delighted to have had this experience.

The next presenter that wowed me was Michael Good.  He shared his thoughts about being a jeweler and his work.  “Eliminate barriers”  “Keep things simple”  “Minimize what you do”

Michael Good

An Example of Good's Work From His Slides

Sunday morning was the finale and concluded with Pat Flynn.  He works with steel and gold.  He started working with old iron nails and found metal from house renovations.  How interesting is that?  “Look at work you don’t like, to define how you want your work to be”

Pat Flynn

Example of Pat Flynn's Work From His Slides

All of the presenters shared their points of view and the path they followed to be where they are today.  Fascinating.  I think my subconscious will be digesting the vast amount of information for quite a while.  I’m anxious to see the impact this will have on my future work.

Salida has some wonderful settings.  This river runs along where the convention took place.  Great to take a walk and listen to the sounds of the water as it flows past.

Here’s a shot of some of the conference attendees gathering around the stage after a presentation.

CoMA really did a great job putting on a quality conference.  The banquet took place Saturday night, very casual, very Colorado.  There was a silent auction to raise money for the group.  Lots of wonderful donations.  As things progressed over the weekend, I do think I was under the influence of information overload.  So many sights and sounds.

Since it was my first time attending the conference, I became Lexi’s shadow.  She knows so many people.  It was great fun to watch her reunite with her friends and meet new ones.

I was fortunate to acquire a pair of Julie Jerman-Melka’s earrings.  She is one of Lexi’s closest friends and it was wonderful to finally meet her after admiring her work.  On Saturday, she was wearing one of her new earring designs and I fell in love with them.  I asked her if they were available for purchase and presto chango, they became mine.  Julie works with river rocks, silver and precious stones.  This pair has raw diamonds and I am honored to have them.

My New Earrings by Julie Jerman-Melka

I can definitely understand the importance of attending this type of conference.  The exposure to such Masters of Metal, along with the outstanding talent within the group of attendees, is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the CoMA Convention.  Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Kathleen Krucoff

Artist and Metalsmith

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