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At the end of 2017, I made a very conscious, deliberate decision to focus on spending more of my time at my bench; focusing on the fabrication process and ensuring I amped up what I do.  As 2018 began, I felt the positive impact of that decision.

Because I wanted to continue fine tune my skills, improving on the techniques I use in my work, I started to see improvements. This intentional act of focus is giving me a great deal of satisfaction as an artist.

In April I took a workshop with Andy Copperman called Imaginative Captures. I think continued education furthers personal growth. This workshop became more than a nudge for thinking outside of the box. As metalsmiths, we are taught the basics of the craft. All of that is very important. Yet sometimes we need a challenge from a teacher like Andy to start thinking, what if I tried this?

End limitations and restrictions. I am NOT saying that any of us should throw caution to the wind and ignore the necessary aspect of safety in the studio. What I am saying is consider what possibilities may open up because we intentionally remove restrictions on our own creativity.

Yes I’m still mentally digesting what Andy covered in that fantastic four day workshop. I expect to see changes in my work. I have already made changes to my workspace as you can see in the following photos.

The picture at the beginning of this post of my bench captures a brief moment when it appeared neat and tidy. Here is how it has started to transform.

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I’ve added a self-contained dust collection system by Foredom. I used to wear a fairly heavy 3M respirator, like the one shown below, when I worked. It is heavy to the point where my neck just couldn’t handle it.

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One of the things Andy touched on was the importance of preventing particulates from entering our lungs. I get that. Now I have something that may even work better than wearing the bulky respirator and is kinder to my body on many levels.

In the area of self-contained dust collections systems, Foredom isn’t the only game in town, nor the cheapest. If you don’t have one or are considering it, do your research and see what works for you. I have a number of Foredom products. I know their quality and reliability played a big role in my decision. Plus this model is fairly quiet when running which had a certain appeal for me too. The beauty of this system is I don’t vent to the outside and since my studio is in our home, this was a perfect solution.

I’ve also re-arranged my peg board above the bench to have the items I use most frequently. I’m not sure it is in it’s final state yet as I’m still adjusting to what I have there. I could see additional tweaks.

Each one of my bench drawers have been decluttered. It’s nice to have things at my fingertips now.

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All that being said, my bench hardly ever looks as clear as in the first photo. Now I’ve given up some bench top real estate with the collection hood and I am really ok with it. My neck became so sore that getting away from the heavy respirator was worth the space sacrifice.

One of the other decisions I made was to rearrange my studio in gradual steps because I find it too overwhelming to try to do it all at once. With each step I have taken in the process, I have managed to get some art work completed and enjoy myself.

When I am in the midst of creating all order goes out the window. Being in the zone, my attention is on the work not organization. As much as I think I would like to maintain an uncluttered workbench, it just doesn’t seem to happen. It’s the creative process that fuels what I do when I’m at the bench.

Now as I enter the studio, I find I am immersed in a new sensation. I literally feel a flow of energy through my arms and hands as I am intent on making a piece. I have always focused on excellent craftsmanship with each item. There is such satisfaction in looking at a well finished, beautifully created piece of art jewelry. But now, things are even better because I see continuous improvement in what I do.

Staying curious about the work, the process and how to fabricate things better certainly changes my approach. I think every artist looks at their work and wants to make it even better. We are our own worst critics.

The changes I am making to my work space have started to further enable my creative process. That’s truly joyous.

Stay tuned for further updates.

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

 

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Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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