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Hibiscus – Photo by Daniel Krucoff

…….things just click!

I’m happy to report that it happened again for me while I was working on this cuff.

Hopefully, all of us have experienced that moment when things just start to come together and work right. Something akin to when you learned how to ride a bike. Balance, turning, forward momentum and braking all come together in perfect, effortless harmony. It becomes second nature and requires little conscious thought.

Years ago, my primary medium was glass. Oh how I wished I could cut glass with ease, without thinking about it. That FINALLY happened after a ton of practice. What accelerated that perfect touch was many hours of cutting strips of glass for the fused bowls I was making. The mechanics of the right pressure just clicked.

In 2009, metal became my medium. In some aspects, I was starting all over again. In other areas, I was enhancing skills I had developed as a budding artist back in my teens. You see, I know and have found that everything we do develops a skill set that we can build upon. Some are fortunate to start early and stick with it. Others, like me, tend to bounce around until we find our true passion.

Over the past several weeks, I have returned to the studio to create new works for an upcoming exhibition.  All the work will be completed using the metalsmithing technique of Chasing and Repousse. I love working in metal and this technique allows me to create in a way I never imagined. In June of 2014, I took a workshop from the Italian Master, Fabrizio Acquafresca and found my true passion ~ Chasing and Repousse.

There are MANY important aspects to this technique. For me, the hardest part has been proper use of the chasing hammer with the tools. I knew it would just take practice. Fabrizio and others confirm that practice is essential. It is. I know it. My commitments have interfered with my ability to work on this technique as much as I want and need.

Now, as I’m preparing for an exhibit, I am in the studio every day working, practicing, striving to be better. Some days my muscles are unhappy with my demands. I take breaks, I stretch and do my best to give my body the rests it needs. Remember these breaks are just as important as the practice. When I am tired, my muscles fatigued, things don’t work well and mistakes will happen.

However, that moment I sought, when perfect harmony with hammer and chisel finally happened. It took place on a recent Sunday. I had finished the details of this cuff and now it was time to work on the non-raised sections; the border area. Fabrizio has a set of special square tools (pictured below) that he uses to complete a smooth, finished surface.

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I have struggled with this aspect ever since that workshop almost 2 years ago. This time, I was determined to figure it out, make it work and succeed. As I started to hammer, I could see the surface was moving as I wanted it to.  It’s a smooth ‘texture‘ if you will.  I realize that sounds like a contradiction, but these tools create a soft finish. Here’s a close up of one of the edges, showing the details of the cuff.

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The awareness that took place as I hammered was I was finally striking the tool with a purpose. Before I was ‘hammering like a girl‘….ya that old saying of ‘you throw the ball like a girl’. Whatever. I was using my chasing hammer like I meant it. The strikes were not this random flailing of mediocre blows. The hammer strikes on the top of my tool were direct, with intent. All the aspects of how to create this movement were coming together. I was holding the square chisel correctly, positioning it correctly on the metal’s surface and striking it with the hammer with forceful purpose.  I could feel everything was working together in harmony and that’s the a-ha key moment of revelation. I got this. I’m doing this. Yay me!

The reason I want to share this story and my thoughts are to encourage you. One of the worst things we do as individuals is compare ourselves to others. That serves no purpose. There’s always going to be someone who’s better at something than you are and you are better at somethings that others aren’t. Just be the best that you can be. If you are dissatisfied with something, work on fixing it. I was never happy with my hammer skills. Yet I persisted and practiced. Am I where I want to be yet? No. Anyone who is a true master of their craft continues to practice and work at it. Ansel Adams did, Picasso did, I know Fabrizio does and I know I have to because I want to grow and become a better artist. Practice, determination and persistence are my allies. If you want to be better at anything, let them become your allies too.

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

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I have been focusing a lot of my attention on creating Treescapes. They continue to evolve and I like the direction the pendants (and earrings) are taking. While I will continue to make pieces that are ‘framed’, right now I find the clean lines that are simple showcase the stones and the tree shape in a classic way.

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Dendritic Opal, pale lavender hue in the stone, set in Sterling.

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Classic Snow White Dendritic Opal set in Sterling. The patina created a colorful fall leaf look.

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These sort of look like a Treescape forest to me.

Lots of inspiration for some of the current Treescapes has come from a little Bonsai Tree I recently acquired. It has a great twisted trunk with such a graceful shape. I can see its influence in some of my recent pendants and earrings.

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Graceful trees – Sterling Silver with Patina

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Deep green Variscite set in Sterling; my signature Treescape design.

You can find these and others at my upcoming events. Sign up for my newsletter to get the latest information.

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

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Cannon Beach

I have just returned from one of the best vacations that Dan & I have shared together. The Pacific Northwest has such diverse areas of beauty that we are more than enamored by what it has to offer. I can easily see us transitioning there if the opportunity presents itself.

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Mt Adams

Whenever we travel, photography becomes a huge part of the journey. Dan captures breathtaking scenes. I hunt for the obscure in hopes that it may find its way into my work. One of the true joys we experience on these photo safaris is finding those glimpses of life that may be missed if we just hurried along the trails.

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This star fish was a pleasant surprise during one of our morning walks on the beach. A young man found it was still alive and returned it to the sea.

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Seeing the gull tracks in the sand was interesting to me. Every morning the wind swept sand revealed a new set of tracks. I liked thinking about how they could symbolize our journeys.

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An occasional encounter with a stray feather.

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Most of the sand dollars did not weather their trip to shore well. However I did find even the damaged ones to have unique qualities. I did have the good fortune to discover a few, large and small, still intact during the early morning walks. Those have relocated to Colorado as guides for future works.

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Me on the left with Linda Steider on the right.

I finally got to meet this wonderful, creative spirit in person. My friend, Linda Steider, who inspires on so many levels. We have known each other for a long time and stay in touch through Facebook and our respective blogs. She is a very talented glass artist and photographer. Linda graciously offered to spend a day with us & shared parts of her world she thought we would enjoy. We did and are so grateful for her generosity. I encourage you to check her blog and see all the wondrous things she captures in her photography. Thanks to Linda, we got to see Mt Adams, enjoy lunch along the Columbia river and even an ice cave where Dan captured this next photo.

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Dan had to lay on his back to capture this view of the trees. I just love it; reminds me of what I try to do with my Treescapes series.

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Sunset on our last night at Cannon Beach. Just spectacular. While we were at the ocean, we only turned the TV on once for a bit of morning news. The rest of the time, both of us were completely captivated by the sound of the waves, the gulls and the tranquility of being there.

Right now I feel like I am in percolator mode. My senses were overwhelmed at times and I did my best to drink it all in. How this will manifest in my work remains to be seen. I am ready.

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

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The Mighty Oak
Botanical SeriesKathleen Krucoff
All photography by Daniel Krucoff

This is my accepted entry in the first International Chasing & Repousse Exhibition to be held at Outnumbered Gallery in Littleton, Colorado.

The opening reception will be Friday, June 5th from 5:00 – 9:00 PM during Littleton’s First Friday.  The exhibit runs from June 5 – July 18th.

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Detail view of The Mighty Oak

I am truly honored and humbled that this piece was one of the selected works.  There were over 140 artists who applied and I am one of 29 that were selected for the exhibit.

For this cuff, it is the first time I elected to use the Japanese metal alloy, Shibuichi. This material is a blend of copper and silver. Working this metal created a warm undertone that I felt accentuated my design and the details. It has been my most challenging piece to create to date. I like to stretch and grow as an artist, which is why I believe it is so important to try new things and keep striving to become better.

Il Maestro Fabrizio Acquafresca and another remarkable artist, Nancy Melie Walker, will be in attendance on the evening of the opening reception, demonstrating the ancient art of Chasing & Repousse. Talk about magical.

All of the displayed work will be available for purchase. As an added bonus, Fabrizio will have cuffs from his Butterfly Collection that can be purchased. If you have admired his work or are just discovering it, this is a wonderful opportunity to become a collector of some of his finest creations.
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If you live in Denver or the surrounding area, I do hope that you can join me with my husband, Dan, at the opening reception. There will be many talented artists happy to discuss their work with you.  Remember that the exhibit runs through July 18th, if you are unable to attend the opening. I would say this is one of those must see events of the summer.

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

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A couple of my latest fused gold to steel works

New works, Holiday events and more.  Sit back, explore and enjoy.

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My annual Holiday Trunk Show will take place on Saturday, November 29, 2014 at Santa Fe Trail Jewelry in Monument, CO in conjunction with Small Business Saturday.  I love doing this show at Marylee’s cozy cottage gallery and shop.  She has created such a warm atmosphere for artists to display their works.  I will have all of my latest offerings.  There will be warm cider to compliment the Small Business Saturday shopping experience there, along with some tasty treats too.  Please join us, if you live in the area.  It’s a great way to kick off your Holiday shopping and support local businesses.  Thank you.

I have had a number of requests for earrings with posts, so here are a few of them.

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I love Aspen leaves.   New to my Botanicals series, these have been created by the chasing and repousse technique.  Sterling silver, oxidized to emphasize the details.

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From Sensory Delights, the texture has been created through the use of a pattern sheet and my rolling mill.  Oxidized sterling silver, to bring out the details.

If you can’t make my Trunk Show, you are in luck.  Once again, Nancy Bonig (founder of the Front Range Open Studios) will be hosting the Holiday Party for artists who were part of this year’s tour.  I’m one of the participating artists who will be joining the festivities.   Mark you calendars for Saturday, December 6th from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  There will be plenty of goodies from food to drink to art!  Free gift wrap with your purchase too.  It’s a win win.

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Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  I am so very grateful for all the blessings in my life.  I appreciate your continued interest in my work and taking the time to read this blog. And, as always, I thank my husband Dan for taking such wonderful photographs of my work.  I couldn’t do any of this without your love and support.

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

 

 

 

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Serenity ~ Treescapes
All Photos by Daniel Krucoff

I have been fortunate that the start of 2014 has been relatively quiet and allowed me the precious gift of time to prepare for the busy months that are coming.  I am so very grateful that I have had this time to explore new things and improve on existing techniques.

The pendant at the top of this post represents one of the staples of my Treescape series.  A stone variation, yes, with a lovely Chinese Writing Stone.  To me they symbolize simplicity and elegance.  Garnet is my birthstone.  The deep red in this faceted garnet seemed like just the right contrast for the Chinese Writing Stone.  The pendant has a sense of tranquility to it, so that is why I call it Serenity.

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Another of my favorites is Picasso Stones.  I finally understand why I love these stones so much.  It is because they look like tree roots and as most of you know, I LOVE trees.  This one has a touch of gold.  A great friend, Jerry McClure (who creates the most spectacular knives), suggested that I add Keum Boo gold to my Treescapes as leaf accents.  Well, I definitely like this look so you can expect to see more gold in my work.

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I am exploring textures.  I find that just the right amount adds so much interest, especially when patina enhances them.  These earrings are comprised of Mookite and textured sterling silver with a dark patina.  I’m very happy with this look.  Expect to see more of this in my future works.

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Ah, the return of the stone bracelet!  I so enjoy making these.  Now I must admit that wasn’t always the case and I made more than my share of mistakes with my first couple of these.  However, I am persistent and I have learned from my efforts.   Now I’m changing things up a bit with textures, adding some gold accents and trying to find the right color combinations that make these statement pieces for the wearers.  This one has warm rich hues of yellows and rusts.  I’m working on others with a more monochromatic palette along with a couple with smaller stones.  Variety is the spice of life!

Success is when preparation meets opportunity.  I am so fortunate and grateful for the opportunities that have been coming my way.  May will be the start of a very busy 2014 for me.  If you would like to be the first to know of an event and/or exhibit announcements, please sign up for my newsletter.  In the stillness of these past winter months, I have been working very hard and diligently in the studio.  Now the new works are emerging and will be available at trunk shows, exhibits and Art Hops.

Thank you for your interest in my work and my journey in this wonderfully artistic world of metalsmithing.

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

 

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A new series….maybe?
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

Hello 2014!  You might ask, where I have been?  Well, after a very busy end of 2013, I decided I needed to take some time at the beginning of this year and refuel.  I needed to rest, relax and revitalize.  Plus, my studio had to be cleared and decluttered to allow new works to flourish.

Now I am back at the bench and this is one of the results.  It is something that is building a bit on my Treescape series….perhaps the evolution of that series.  If it starts to qualify as a new series, I may call it The Oaks of Righteousness, from Isaiah 61:3.  Something I heard this weekend and it resonated with me.

Last weekend I worked on reticulation again.  I love that process of the metal starting to wrinkle and fold on itself.  Those of you familiar with metalwork can spot the reticulation in this piece.  There was so  much movement in the patterns within this stone that I knew I needed to surround it with reticulated silver.  I kept seeing this beautiful waterfall on the right side of the stone and I wanted the churning waters to carry through not only to the reticulation, but the bezel too.

The stone is Variscite, the most unusual I have ever seen.  I bought this from Gary B Wilson at last year’s Gem & Mineral Show in Denver.  Gary said it was part of his secret stash, but he knew how much I liked Variscite so he brought this stone and others for me.

As I worked on the design, nothing was really solid in my mind, except for the shape of the backplate.  Eventually I added the wire frames that are somewhat of a signature in my Treescapes…but it needed more.  As everything came together during the fabrication, I decided that an acid etched bail would be a nice compliment to the liquid flow of the stone and reticulation.

I think this entire piece just evolved as I found things that worked.  No specific design, just having fun being creative with it.

The final touch was the addition of the copper leaves.   They added to the organic look and feel I wanted.  I used Prismacolor pencils to add a bit of green to the leaves and all has been preserved with a matte lacquer.

There are more little bits of inspiration setting on my bench.  I have a feeling that 2014 will be filled with lots of new growth.  How exciting!

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

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I want to express my appreciation to all of you who read this blog and enjoy my work.  Christmas is just a few days away.  The new year, 2014, will soon be here.  I am sure many of you, including me, have new dreams, hopes and aspirations as 2014 approaches.

At the end of the current year, I find I tend to reflect on things that happened.  I guess many of us do.  I am filled with immense gratitude for the many blessings in my life.  First and foremost, I am thankful for my husband Dan, who is my best friend.  Not only is Dan my soul mate, he is the exclusive photographer of my work.  He has a great eye as a photographer.  His intelligence, patience and kindness are more than I could ever hope for as the love of my life.

We share our home with three adorable basset hounds.  They are perpetual canine clowns, giving us tons of  love and companionship.  This year we had to say good-bye to my beloved Little Miss Nocturne; they leave such big paw prints on our hearts.  And we also welcomed a new puppy, Thorin, who has tons of personality and is a perfect addition to our family.

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(Left to right, Thorin, Quorra and Newton)

As I write this, I look forward to the possibilities that 2014 holds for each of us.  2013 has been filled with ups and downs, just like any year, well, let’s face it, that’s life!

Last night, Dan and I decided to enjoy some of the beautiful decorations in downtown Colorado Springs.  We went out for dinner and walked around afterward.  We may have discovered a new holiday tradition for us as the evening was wonderful.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the photos Dan took during our night out on the town.  It was VERY cold, but we had a great time.

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Starting to warm up inside The Antlers.

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I decided to ham it up a bit….trying to stay warm!

One of the wonderful things about life is it is a constant learning experience for me.  I am grateful to the many people who have helped me to grow this year, not only as an artist, but as a person.  Those of you who read this blog, know that is my tag line.  This year was filled with growth and I am grateful.

My expectations for 2014 are high.  I am looking forward to creating new works, growing as an artist, meeting more like-minded people and enjoying life.

I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Holiday Season.

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(Left to right, Newton, Thorin, Me and Quorra)

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

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Once again, Marylee Reisig will be hosting my Holiday Trunk Show at her beautiful gallery as part of Small Business Saturday.  I think you will find Santa Fe Trail Jewelry is a delightful setting for your holiday shopping.  I will have my latest works available and it is my hope that you will find something that speaks to you as you search for that special gift.  Rumor has it that there will be some delicious munchies, along with tasty spiced cider and other warm beverages for you to enjoy as you shop.

I have been busy creating new works for this trunk show and would like to give you a preview of some of the items that will be available.

Every once and a while, Dan comes up with some ideas and suggestions for me to try with my work.  This year he asked, “What if you just do a metal pendant, no stone?”.  I thought about it for Treescapes.  The next two pictures show how I used a metal only component in a bracelet and a pendant.

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Since many of my Treescapes are asymmetrical, I thought adding the metal component to the side rather than the center would provide a more intriguing look for this bracelet.  The center piece is not a stone, but actually Walrus tusk, which my friend, Jerry McClure introduced me to over a year ago.  I love this material for what it symbolizes about the past, along with the beautifully rich colors and patterns.  Jerry also cut this cab for me.  The blue cabochon is Lapis, which I have not used that much, but Gary B. Wilson had a few of these that spoke to me this fall at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show.   I added an extra jump ring to allow for some variation in how this will fit different sized wrists.

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This is just a very simple Treescape pendant.  Since most of my Treescape earrings are just metal, it seemed like it would be a perfect companion if someone wants a matched set.  My thanks to Dan for his support and the suggestions to experiment.  I like the direction these subtle changes take Treescapes.

Next is a pair of my Express Yourself earrings.  I’ve been working more on the leaves, adding stems and having them take on a more organic look with the spirals.  I’m fascinated with reticulated silver, so I am using it in a few of these earrings as I like the texture.  This pair has some slight asymmetry with the way I have arranged the pearls, leaves, and white buffalo turquoise.  They are light weight and have that classic black and white color scheme that makes them perfect for wearing with just about everything!

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Soul Searching was one of my first series.  So many of the pieces had a special meaning for me as I reflected about my life.  Now I have decided to revisit this series with more of a spiritual aspect.  My goal is to have a given piece resonate with someone and provide strength and encouragement.  This particular bracelet is acid etched sterling silver that I have oxidized.  I have applied a light matte lacquer coating to preserve the oxidation.  The stone is Mookite.  I see a distant mountain in this stone with the glow of a beautiful sunset in the background.  As I viewed this finished piece, I felt a sense of calm and that is how it came to be called ‘Serenity‘.

SoulSearching_Serenity600Serenity – Soul Searching

As I was going through my available stones, I ran across these lovely oval shaped Chinese Writing stones, acquired from Gary B Wilson.  I set them aside and in another box of my stones, I saw these elongated Onyx stones, which came from Rogue Gems.  As luck would have it, when I set those aside it was right underneath the Chinese Writing stones and I saw these earrings.  I knew everything had to be kept simple and clean.  The beauty of these two stones families, combined like this, was all the earrings needed.  I have titled them Pathways.  They showed me the path to take in my creative process to make them.  My hope is they will inspire their future wearer to follow their life paths as they are encountered.

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The day I was pulling stones from my inventory proved to be a day of great pairings, just as the Pathway earring stones (pictured above) were. It truly did feel like I was being guided to put certain colors and stone types together.

In this pendant, New Heights, I have a deep green spider vein turquoise paired with the pastels of a Willow Creek Jasper. In the Willow Creek stone, I see another mountain in the distance.  It made me think of Mt Kilimanjaro and that symbolized new heights for me.  Again, I felt a strong need to keep things simple.  The cross shaped top piece is one I have used in another pendant.  As I revisit the Soul Searching series, I want to explore the use of the cross with single and multiple pairings of stones and metal.

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I will end with this pendant from Treescapes. Once again, I think it was the two stones that found each other as I was going through my inventory. Dendrites in limestone, tree perfection. The bottom stone is a lovely, rich russet red Morrisonite that pretty much begged to be paired with the dendritic top stone. I’ve been asked if it is hard to part with certain works. This one will be hard for me to let go to its future home. Yet, if it calls to the right person, as it called to me, so be it.

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A special thanks to my husband Dan for all the great photos he took of my latest works for this blog post. I would also like to express my appreciation to all of you who read my blog, who have come to visit me during Art Hop this past summer, stopped by my studio on the Front Range Open Studios weekend and purchased my work. I have enjoyed visiting with all of you. If you live in the area, I hope you will come to the trunk show on November 30th, discuss my work with me and find that right gift for this holiday season.

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

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Luma at The Broadmoor
1 Lake Avenue
Colorado Springs CO 80906

I am very happy and honored to announce that my work is now available at Luma located at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.  I had the good fortune to meet Cathy Coleman, owner of Luma, during this year’s Front Range Open Studios Tour.

First, let me express my heartfelt thanks to the tireless efforts of the tour founder, Nancy Bonig, who promotes the artists on the tour with a passion that is uniquely hers.  Nancy, your efforts for all of us is greatly appreciated.

You see Nancy visits numerous merchants in Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs, where she knows people would be interested in the artists on the tour.  As a result, many of us are visited on the tour weekend by people looking to find new artists, see the quality of our work and explore our studio spaces.  They want to see and hear what we do.  I thoroughly enjoyed discussing my love of working with metal and creating my art.  The tour gives me a chance to show people my studio, the tools I use to create my work and demonstrate a few of the techniques.  It is a blast to see their expressions when they start to understand what goes into creating artwork.

During the tour weekend, Cathy and her associates stopped by my studio.  We visited, she liked my body of work and her friends bought a couple of my earrings.  She wanted to represent me, we made arrangements to get together and it became official on October 17, 2013!

Yesterday afternoon I delivered my first group of items.  Let me tell you, Luma is a beautiful, upscale gallery located at The Broadmoor.  Classy, elegant and stylish sums up the variety of art works Cathy has selected for Luma.  I am so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to our collaboration.

LumaColoradoSectionMy work will be in this section of the Luma gallery.  This is a dream come true for me as another one of my goals has been achieved.

If you live in the area or ever have the pleasure of staying or visiting The Broadmoor, please stop by Luma and see all the wonderful works of art.  Oh yes, and please check out the “Made in Colorado” area as I’m sure it will delight; look for my Treescapes too.

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Treescapes #1047
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

This is one of my new Treescape pendants available at Luma.  It is a Burro Creek Jasper set in oxidized sterling silver. The soft mauve tones in the stone made me want to play with the oxidation colors for the metal so they would give  the right color compliment.  I added a bark like texture to the bail and kept with the Oriental theme of this series with just the top curve that reminds me of a Pagoda.

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There are Treescape earrings like the ones pictured above, along with a nice selection of Express Yourself (with a little touch of Colorado) earrings similar to the pair pictured below.

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I had the pleasure of meeting the gallery mascot, Andie, who is a friendly little Schnauzer that wins the hearts of everyone she meets.  She may have more fans than any of us, but as you know, I am terribly fond of animals as I find they add so much to the quality of our lives.

Every year, something wonderful comes from being a part of the Front Range Open Studios.  You never know when you will meet someone and opportunity knocks.  Thank you Nancy for the work you do for all of us who are part of your tour.  And thank you Cathy for visiting my studio and inviting me to be a part of your gallery.

Dreams do come true.  Hard work does pay off.  Set goals and diligently work to achieve them.

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

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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