You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Innovation’ tag.


Grumbacher Plastic Paint Mixing Tray

A long time ago, in a gallaxy far far away…..wait a minute, wrong tale!

Take two.  A long time ago, I tried my hand at painting. One of the items I hung onto from that artistic adventure was this paint mixing tray by Grumbacher.  As I was decluttering my studio a while ago, I found this and considered donating it so that someone else might be able to put this to use.  However, I did not and it sat in a little box….sort of looking at me.  Then I moved it to the top of my soldering bench, next to my pickle pot.  I still wasn’t sure why I felt the need to keep this aside from some emotional attachment, but I did.

So why am I posting about a Grumbacher paint mixing tray in my Talkin’ Tools segment?  Well, it turns out that it has become a very handy way for me to organize the components for my Ginkgo leaf earrings.  Sure, I could have gone out and bought something else, but this works and puts this tray back into use in my studio.  Saved a little money too!


Ginkgo parts

You see, when I make my Ginkgo leaf earrings, there are a variety of bits and pieces that go into their assembly. I need to keep them organized by earring style so as I start to put the sections together, I have the right part for the right design.  I work on one earring set at a time as I build them.  The dividers keep the sets together and I don’t run the risk of getting them mixed up.

Prior to utilizing this tray, I would have the earring sets scattered around in little piles on a table.  Speaking from the voice of experience, there were times when my sleeve would brush them and they would fall on the floor or get mixed together.  That was FUN, not!  These incidents left me with this time consuming and needless task of putting an interesting jig saw puzzle back together.  Talk about frustrating!

One day, as I was in this frustrated state, here’s this little tray, sort of smiling and winking at me now and I think, ok, I get it.  Put you to use.  I did.

Viola!  Once I started using the tray, the process was simplified. I can keep track of how many are ready by a glance. I’m assured that the right parts for the earring set are together. Once I fire up my torch, I can work on 8 pairs or more if use the small circles in the tray.  Even though I build them one pair at a time, I don’t like to start work on the assembly process until I have a batch.  I find it to be more efficient.

There are several key things I’d like to convey with this post:

  • Organization in the studio (and other areas of life) is very important. It helps simplify what you are doing, alleviates stress and frustration, along with speeding up what you are doing.
  • Be innovative. Look for items you may already have and see if they can be used for another purpose.  It may be a good fit and save you a bit of money.
  • Consider options.  Being open to alternatives that can help you with an immediate solution…it’s good to have options.

Have you found something that you use in your work that is an alternative use from its original purpose?

I hope you find this tip helpful and are motivated to start looking for things that may help you in your work.

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

Do you find yourself discovering new paths every day?

I find that I am and it gives me a great sense of renewal.

Every day is a gift.  What we do during that 24 hour span is our choice.  Free will.  Some days are squandered.  Some days are tremendously productive.

I think that Steve Jobs passing last week has given me even more introspective reflection and a hunger, thirst to make every day count.  Sometimes, that may not be completely possible, yet I believe it is vitally important.  None of us know how much time we have here.   Our words and actions may have an impact or influence on those we meet each day.  We may never know or one day someone may share that something we did had a positive impact on them.

Do you think Steve Jobs fully realized his impact on our lives?  Maybe he did to some degree, but I cannot help but think that he may not have realized the full extent his innovations and insights had on our daily existence.  Personally, I believe his influence will be felt for many, many years.

I know I am on a Discovery path.  Coming off of the Jewelry at the Gardens event last weekend, seeing all the creative spirits there, I am inspired to continue to grow even more as an artist.  That growth will bring about new revelations for me and where I will take my work.

The photo at the top of this post shows a few of the Dendritic Opal stones I purchased from Mark & Christa Lasater of The Clam Shell last month at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show.  When I first saw these, a idea for a new series started to flicker in my mind’s eye and then the floodgate of designs opened.  Not a single design has been sketched, but I can clearly see what I will be doing.

Discovery.  The possibilities.

Do you hunger for this sense of Discovery in your life?  I hope you will share your thoughts on this topic.  For me this sense of Discovery is part of what makes humans so complex, unique, and interesting.  If you haven’t found that hunger in your lives, I encourage you to do so.

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

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 777 other followers

Instagram