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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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The Trusty Foredom Flex Shaft

Today’s topic for our Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is “What is your Favorite Tool?” The subject was not limited to the tools we use in our respective studios.  There were many that came to my mind.

To qualify as one of my favorite tools, the tool must be practical and functional.  My dad taught me the importance of good tools.  So my narrowed down list ranges from my Chi flat iron (in purple of course!), to my NC Black Hammers, to the pooper scooper (yes, I know eeeiiiiwwww, but when you have doggies, it’s a necessity!!!), to my Husqvarna Viking sewing machine….yet, I kept coming back to my trusty Foredom Flex Shaft!

It’s hard believe that I acquired this tool in October of 2009! I was so overjoyed with it then that it became one of the topics for another blog post about tools. As much as I truly do enjoy the zen of hand finishing my metalwork, I find I go to my Foredom almost every time I work at my bench.  Why?  Well it has a multitude of attachments that make metalsmithing even more fun for me.  It’s a great time saver since I feel I need to make the most out of the time I work in the studio.  Here’s a list of a few of the things it does that makes my life easier when metalworking:

  •  Drilling holes is a breeze
  •  It can perform quick sweep, with the right attachment, to rid the metal of a scratch that could take 10 – 15 minutes or more of hand sanding
  • Adding a bit of texture to the metal with one of those 3M ‘spiders’ (radial sanding discs)
  • Smoothing out a bump in my soldered bezel wire
  • Removing a spot of solder that would take a while with hand sanding
  • Giving an polished edge to a finished piece with additional smoothness and shine

I truly love tools that make my life easier and this is definitely one of those.  It goes to the head of the class and I have found using it invaluable in my studio.

Now lets see what my fellow blog-o-sphere think tankers shared on this fun topic! Please visit their blogs and enjoy the read.  🙂

Andes Cruz: http://www.andescruz.wordpress.com
Shannon I’m On A Roll Koochin: http://thebassplayersdaughter.blogspot.ca
Barbara Donovan:  http://barbaradonovan.blogspot.com/
Robyn Hawk: http://flyviewsandreviews.blogspot.com/
Beth Cyr: http://bcyrjewelry.blogspot.com
Natsuko Hanks http://jewelrybynatsuko.blogspot.com/
Christine http://sistinachapel.blogspot.ca/
WATTO (Mary) http://www.wattoonline.com/news
Wendy Kelly http://www.wendykianakelly.com
Stephanie Clark http://thethinkingsofacoldweathergirl.blogspot.com

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


Lucas “Low-Boy”

This little beauty is a foot controller manufactured by Lucas Dental Equipment.  It is attached to my Foredom Flex Shaft and works like a dream.  It was a Christmas gift from my dear sister Lexi this past year.  I was delighted; thanks again Lex!  I had this on my tool wish list for well over a year.

The first time I saw one of these was in Lexi’s studio.  She told me about the benefits of having a variable speed control pedal that would allow you to start out slower than any other foot controller.  It definitely gives you great control as you work with your flex shaft or dremel.

The foot controllers that come with Flex Shafts don’t let you start at the very slow revolutions per minute (rpm) like this one does. There are times when you really need a delicate touch to start working on something you are fabricating.  This pedal fits the bill!

If you Google this, you find lots of positive feedback about the quality of the device.  And I am one who will chime in that this is a great addition to your metalsmithing studio.

This is the ad that Lucas runs and I thought I would share for those of you may be interested in adding this gem to your studio.  I think you’ll be very happy you did.

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


Serene
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.

NewGrowthNew Growth

Earrings from my Soul Searching series, these represent my new growth as a metalsmith.

Lots of different techniques here.  My first venture into Keum Boo. Keum Boo is a seriously cool technique that involves bonding very thin, 24 kt gold, to the surface of your metal.  The link I’ve given is to Wikipedia’s explanation and I think they’ve provided a good description of Keum Boo.

I kept the design pretty simple again.  I’m using Sterling Silver for the background and the ear wires.  The texture I created on the sterling was done with the use of my Pepe rolling mill and a piece of fabric.  I am so into creating textures on metal.  Looking at mesh for screen, lamp shades, artificial flowers, well…I look for pieces I can use to texture metal just about anywhere!

Once I had the texture in place, then I filed the edges so they would be smooth.  I added a line to represent the branch for the leaves.  The lines were created with a very tiny diamond coated bit and my new Foredom.

The sterling needs to be annealed several times to bring the pure silver to the surface.  This provides the adhesion layer necessary for the Keum Boo to bond completely.

Time for the placement of the leaves, which are the Keum Boo part of these.  I traced the leaf design on the paper to use as a guide for cutting them.  Using my Joyce Chen Scissors, I was able to cut out these very small leaves.  If you have need for an ultra sharp pair of scissors, get some Joyce Chens.  They will cut chicken bones and you have to be VERY careful when you use them as they don’t distinguish between bone, fingers, or metal.  I can’t speak from personal experience on the injury front, but I have been instructed to be careful with them (thanks Lexi 🙂 ) and I want to pass that information on to anyone who hasn’t used them.

Now we’re ready to bond the leaves to the surface.  Truly an interesting process.  Lexi is demonstrating how this is done and I’m watching, completely fascinated.  Now it’s my turn.  Wow.  She has one of those glass cook tops and that was our surface for heating the metal and then using a burnisher to gently rub the Keum Boo as it’s bonding to the surface of the silver.  Who would have thought!  Of course, as with anything, there is more than one way to do this.  I just never expected to put metal on a stove top and that would bond two layers of metal together!

Once the bonding is complete, we decided to add a patina to really have the gold stand out.  Well, after all, it is gold and no matter how small, one should be able to see it.

Another technique Lexi showed me was how to create those cute little balls on the end of the ear wires.  I did have fun doing this on my own and will be incorporating this into more of my work.  I added patina to the ear wires (also sterling silver) so they would match the earrings.

Ever since my Creative Block break through, I have been literally consumed with trying new things and variations on techniques I already know.  Metalwork is truly fascinating to me.  These earrings do symbolize my New Growth as a metalwork artist.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an Artist and a Person.

I am a woman who appreciates the value of tools. I’m fairly certain that my father helped to instill that appreciation. And I feel like Tim the Tool Man Taylor…it’s Tool Time for Kathleen. Here’s my new baby, the SR Series from Foredom. This one even has a reversible speed! Whooo Whooo….or maybe I should try that famous grunt from the TV show? Any way you look at it, I am the proud owner of a beautiful new power tool that will give me years of service.

The Foredom is a Flex Shaft Power Tool that has a variety of attachments. This one is on special through the month of October from our local supplier, Naja Tools. It has a nice tool kit of attachments included too. Bonus! Lexi just happened to be in their shop and saw this gem, called me, and the next thing you know, this bad boy is in my arsenal of prized tools! I had a dremel and that does the job, but when you need more power (insert grunt here), well, the Foredom delivers.
I will use this for polishing, buffing, bringing pieces up to a high polish, drilling, and I’m sure to discover more uses too. I’m terribly excited about this new addition.
For all the dog lovers out there, as I was assembling this at my bench tonight, all three bassets were present and supervising. Newton was directly underfoot and made it quite challenging at times. What would I do without basset supervision? 🙂
Continuing to aspire to be more as an artist and a person!

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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