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Photo by Daniel Krucoff

When I first started metalwork, Lexi told me that I would find my color pallet and that would come from my stone choices.  On my first shopping adventure with her at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show, a few of my first stone selections were these beautiful dendritic opals.  At the time, I didn’t understand why I was drawn to this stone type, nor why the black and white contrast was so appealing to me.  However, I am starting to understand that it’s the tree shapes that those black dendrites form in the stone….that’s what calls to me….that’s what entices me to create pieces with natural lines….that’s what makes a statement of ‘simple, yet elegant’.

How beautiful is this stone?  It reminds me of a winter scene, as most of these do.  Since we just experienced a fresh snow Wednesday night and throughout the day on Thursday, it seemed that Fresh was the perfect title for this piece.

Another piece that has recently been added to my Treescape collection.  Set in Sterling silver and oxidized to set the backdrop for a true work of art, the dendritic opal stone, created in nature.  If it calls to you as it did to me, let me know.  It’s available to find its new home.

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

Latest Stone Acquisitions

I am a firm believer in investing in quality.  That is one of the reasons that I buy the majority of my stones from Gary B Wilson.  Personally, I think he is one of the top lapidary artists (i.e. stone cutters) in the country.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I am going through a period in my life where I am dealing with the loss of a beloved companion, Bueller.  My dear sister, Lexi, wanted me to have a girls day out and just have some fun.  And so we did.

Yesterday, we went to the Rocky Mountain Bead Society Show at the Denver Merchandise Mart.  Lex had some of her students join us, and I was greeted by some of my artistic friends, Nancy Bonig and Ginny Maiolo.  It turned out to be a “Chicken Soup for my Soul” day.  Thank you Lex.

When the doors opened at 10:00 AM, everyone headed to their favorite vendor.  Gary’s booth was swamped with many of us in search for those treasures that will find their way into our future works.  I found trays with some of my long standing favorites, Willow Creek Jasper, Imperial Jasper, Porcelain Jasper and Tiffany Stone.  This time, I found some new beauties in Burro Creek Jasper that I believe will find their way into my Treescape series.  The picture shows all of those mentioned plus some Mookite and Bloodstone.

Today I’ve been sketching new designs; my future works are starting to come to life.

May all of you have a wonderfully creative day and week.  I’m heading back into the studio to work on some new diversions.

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

February’s  topic from our Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is Who has had the greatest influence in your life?

Profound.  I’m pretty sure I have a top 10, probably a top 5 that are the superstars for me.  All are important and I am grateful for their influence.  The ones I mention in the post are in no particular order; each one has touched my life in their own unique way.

Definitely my parents were a huge influence in my life.  How could they not?  My mom raised me to be a strong, independent woman.  Instilling the belief that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I put my mind to it and worked hard.  My dad, for never limiting me because I was a girl.  If I wanted to learn about a car engine, he happily described the parts and mechanics.  Both of them ingrained in my personality the importance of a strong work ethic, by their actions and their words.

I have to give kudos to the many teachers who challenged & encouraged me.  One who had the greatest impact was Mr Martin, my 9th grade Algebra teacher.  I still remember the first day of his class.  He told us everyone could be good at math and he expected all of us to raise our hands to answer questions.  It became one of the most exhilarating classes I had that year and led to my love of math.  That was the first year I got straight As.  I think the overachiever in me grew and thrived on the rewards of studying.

There’s been a variety of personalities, that I have never met, but admired.  Kate Hepburn.  Her fierce independence and wonderful sense of style.  I’ve started to read one of her autobiographies and have been fascinated by the public persona she developed and groomed vs. the private soul only intimates knew.  Another is Steve Jobs.  His brilliance and creative spirit have given the world such intelligent devices that make my life so much easier.

Then there is my sister, Lexi Erickson.  She too falls into the category of those great teachers in my life, but there’s more than that, it’s that bond we share.

I couldn’t leave this topic without including my soul mate, Dan.  His influence is great.  A kind gentle spirit with wisdom beyond his years.  He is my rock and keeps me centered.

There you have it.  I couldn’t name just one as the greatest influence in my life.  I guess that just confirms that we are the sum of the parts.  I am a composite of all I have seen, heard and done.  I think that’s wonderful.   I know that I will continue to grow and be influenced by many individuals….awesome.

Let’s see what my fellow blog-o-sphere think tank friends have said on this topic:

Andes Cruz
Stephanie Nocito Clark
Renée Dolling

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

The Inspiration
Photo by: Daniel Krucoff

In September 2011, I attended The Gem & Mineral Show in Denver, CO. Lexi & I spend a day together at the show and visit our favorite lapidary artists. I purchased this Dendritic Opal from Mark Lasater of The Clamshell. The minute I saw this stone, I could envision what I would make.  It became The Inspiration for my Treescapes series.

Mark and his wife, Christa, always greet us with warm smiles and enthusiasm. They know Lexi’s favorite stones and mine. This year Mark said, let me show you these little Dendritic Opals. Smaller sizes and each one had these very interesting tree shapes in them. They were gorgeous. I bought a number of them. My first selection was the stone in this setting, because, it had the most prominent and striking tree.

The first in my Treescapes series was Evening Moon, which is an Amethyst Sage that Mark gave me at the end of that shopping spree. Now the series has ‘come to life‘ and I have completed several more with the Dendritic Opals that were the impetus for the series. I will write a brief post on each of them in the coming weeks.

Each piece has an Oriental theme; most are framed with square wire and have piercings of the tree shapes replicated as part of the background in the setting. Each has been set in Sterling silver and oxidized.  Some of my recent Treescapes have a bit more color from the oxidation process. I’ve used a light coating of Renaissance Wax to help preserve the brighter colors created by this oxidation.

I am curious to know your experiences when you have seen something and it immediately generates an idea for your art work?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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

Forest Canyons
Photo Credit: Daniel Krucoff

Now if you had asked me in high school what I thought of science experiments, I would have told you that I didn’t care for them at all.  It just seemed like I had way too many failures in the lab.  Sulphuric acid ate holes in my clothes, dissecting frogs was just unpleasant and I just didn’t enjoy it. Scientific experiments…well, that just wasn’t my thing….then.  However, since then,  I have learned that there is great value in being willing to experiment.  The rewards from experimentation vary, yet I am finding the frustrations I encounter when experimenting with my metalwork can ultimately yield some wonderful results.  As my sister Lex likes to say, “Creativity begets creativity”.

Continuing with the theme of my last post, these earrings represent another experiment of mine with how I attach components. Instead of the typical use of jump rings to join components in a piece, I decided to try twisted wire and a patterned wire to join the top metal component to the stones.  Dan really likes the result with this pair of earrings.  The stones are Cherry Creek Jasper.  Ever since I completed my first setting of a tongue type stone shape in Namaste, I have been fascinated with the ways to create something unique when combining two or more sections of jewelry.  These earrings have sterling silver posts.  I tried a different approach with the oxidation, working on more color.  Another experiment on my part.

One of the prinicples that Lexi has taught me about making jewelry is the importance of movement in a piece.  These have a nice ‘dangle’/movement quality and they are just plain fun to wear.  Light weight, nice movement, along with the interesting ‘shapes’ I see in the stones.  As is my pattern, those shapes reminded me of Forest Canyons, so that is how the name for them was derived.

The process of experimentation can actually be very freeing.  At least that is my experience with it.  I find that I am embracing the process of experimenting.  Sure there are failures, I have come to understand that is expected in this process.  Yet the rewards…aaaaahhhhh, the rewards are so worth the risk of experimenting.  And as Lex likes to remind me, it’s only metal.

So jump in, the waters of experimentation are just fine.  You will enjoy it.  Trust me.  It’s true.

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

November’s topic for my pals in the Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is “What are you thankful for?

I find this topic timely and one I feel I could write volumes about.  I’ll try to condense it to a Reader’s Digest version that will hopefully be succinct.

Dan & me at The Tetons

One thing I am most thankful for in my life is my husband, Dan.  He helps me in more ways that he may even realize.  His love, encouragement and support, along with being my BFF, well, it just doesn’t get any better than that!  I love you Dan; thank you for being the calming, centering force in my life.

The bassets and me

Our bassets are another aspect of my life for which I am very grateful to have.  They are great companions and their antics are constant sources of humor, every day.  It’s hard to stay glum when one is greeted with happy tail wags and kisses.

I feel I have received more blessings than I can count.  My intellect.  The ability to be creative.  Supportive friends.  My dear sister, Lexi.  My health.  Along with a good sense of humor; I definitely believe in being able to laugh at myself!

This past year as Lexi and I worked our way through a couple of books, The Simple Abundance and The Artist’s Way, I think that helped to provide an even greater awareness of all of the people and things I am truly grateful for.  My heartfelt thanks to all.

Now let’s see what the rest of these Blog-o-Sphere Think Tankers shared!

Andes Cruz:
Stephanie Clark:
Beth Cyr:
Diana Fazio:

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

The Beginning of Something Wonderful

The photo at the top of this post are a few of the treasures I purchased last week while at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show.  Some are from Gary B Wilson.  Some are from Mark & Christa Lassater of The Clamshell.  I wish that Ken of Rogue Gems would have been there this year as I would love to meet him…I know his work will be a part of my future works too.

Last week, I spent a day at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show with Lexi.  One of those special times I share with Lexi where our respective creative juices are flowing.  Shouts across the booths to each other, come look at this, here is a stone in your color scheme, what do you think of this?, this one is you, you have to get this one…..  I think you get the idea.  We help each other.  We know what each one likes and as we search, we find things that the other may love to incorporate.  And then there are a few twists and turns, along with the surprises.  It’s a real joy to share the day with Lexi at this show.

I knew what I wanted to shop for this year, more so than ever before.  I did my best to avoid the distractions.  Overall I think I did well.  The top photo shows Porcelain Jasper, Dendritic Opals, Sonoran Sunrise, Ocean Jasper and Variscite.  I have a new series in mind thanks to one of these; I’ll start work on it after the Jewelry at the Gardens show.

I was on the hunt for hearts. I think I raided Gary B’s supply. There were some lovelies and I wanted to go for the smaller ones based on client’s requests. These are a few of the new ones and I already have designs completed for them; some petrified palm wood, picasso stone and mystery stones.  What fun!

This weekend will be spent in the studio, working on the hearts that are part of  the Veracity series, along with some new additions to Mountainesque.  I’m excited, energized to be working with new stones on current series that will be ready for Jewelry at the Gardens.

Isn’t that part of what art is all about?  The thrill of creating new things?  As artists, I think we are always looking for something new & different.  I know I am.

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

Saturday Morning In Castle Rock

It was right before the show opened and Lexi took this picture of me with her iPhone.  Not bad!  Thanks Lex.

The weather was perfect.  This was my first BIG fine art show, outside, where the elements could be anything from freezing cold to furnace hot.  This weekend, the Colorado weather was on its best behavior.

The first day, the crowds were relatively light.  There was an Air Force Academy game that may have played a factor in the attendance.  Sunday, the crowds were better and the people were more engaged in looking at the artists work, talking with us, and enjoying the Art Festival.  Ribbons were awarded to artists in various categories.  Two of our friends won best in their divisions, Julie Jerman-Melka for Jewelry and an oil painter, Stephen Koury.  Lexi and I could not be happier for them….well deserved.  I hope you will take a moment to visit their respective websites to see their works….you will see why they won in their categories.

This was not the best selling show I have had, yet regardless of that, I came away from the show with so much more than monetary rewards.  I was invited to participate in the Holiday Market run by Commonwheel Artists Co-op in Manitou Springs!  It is a 6 week event that runs from November 18 – December 31, 2011.  I was flattered and accepted the invitation.  My Arts & Crafts Impressions series caught their eye so there will be more of those wonderful gingko inspired jewelry pieces in the works.

The experience of doing this type of show was invaluable for me.  More importantly was the sisterhood that I shared with three very special artists during the show.  My sister, Lexi Erickson, of course!  Lexi will forever be my mentor; when I need someone to lean on (besides my soul mate Dan) Lexi is there.  I am so blessed to have her in my life.  Then there is Mary Sharp-Davis, a woman that has so much wisdom and gentleness….everyone should meet and learn from a gentle soul like Mary.  And then Julie Jerman-Melka….another woman who mentors, guides and nurtures.   Through Lex, I have met and gotten to know Mary & Julie.  A wonderful circle of creatives.  One cannot ask for anything more, nor feel more blest.

I am thankful and grateful for the experience and the wisdom imparted by this gifted women of the sisterhood.

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

Can you believe it’s September?  Next weekend is the Castle Rock Art Festival in downtown Castle Rock, Colorado. This will be my first big fine art festival. Lexi generously offered to share her booth with me if we both got juried into the show. Well, Lexi has done the show for the past two years and I had no doubt she would be juried back into the show this year.  She was. Lexi’s first year in the show she won Best Fine Crafts. I was less than confident about being accepted into the Artfest, but I submitted photos of my latest works, the Mouontainesque Series, and ponied up…holding my breath….  To my delight and surprise, I received the acceptance notice back in May. There was that feeling of euphoria knowing that my work made it into this show and to be able to do this show with Lexi will be a real joy.

There are lots of wonderful artists doing this show.  To see the complete list, check the Artfest site here.  Lexi & I will be in booth number 152.  I will finally meet one of Lexi’s dear friends, Mary Sharp-Davis, whose booth will be next to ours.  I have seen Mary’s work and it is just stunning.  Her work encompasses ceramics and jewelry.  I can’t wait.

Then there’s our friend Julie Jerman-Melka, another gifted and talented metalsmith, with her beautiful river stone and raw diamond pieces.  You can find Julie at booth #98.

Lexi will have more of her delightful Shamans inspired by her work as an archeologist.  I gotta tell you, these guys truly define art jewelry in my mind.

I have two more new series that I will be debuting at this show.  Veracity and another that I have called Elements.  The show runs from 9 AM – 6 PM on Saturday the 10th, and on Sunday the 11th, the hours are from 9 AM – 5 PM.

One of the many things I enjoy about this show, having been an attendee in previous years, is how well-organized it is.  There’s plenty of parking at the Douglas County Fairgrounds and the city runs complimentary bus shuttles to the event location on a fairly regular basis.  Admission is only $5.  There’s something for everyone.

One of the biggest ‘hazards‘ that I find at a show of this caliber is I’m going to be so tempted to buy from a number of the talented artists that will be there.  🙂

Let’s hope that our Colorado weather will be wonderful rather than filled with surprises.  If you live in the area, I hope you will stop by.

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

The Kit

I believe the folks at 3M are pretty darn ingenious.  From their sticky pads that came about because of a glue ‘mistake’,  to their invisible tape for wrapping presents,  to their line of Micron sandpapers, to these little radial bristle discs, and TONS more.  I’m definitely a fan of 3M products!

For this segment of Talkin’ Tools, I thought I would discuss my affection for using these discs in my metalwork.  Lexi introduced them to me and she likes to refer to them as ‘spiders‘ because of their appearance.

Initially I had a small subset of 3 different grits.  Yes, just like sandpaper, these gems come in different types (grits) for the work to be done.  3M has color coded them according to their grit, which is very convenient.  I like to keep a cheat sheet on my peg board to reference which size grit I need, but after a while, you get used to the color coding and I don’t refer to the cheat sheet as much.  I find I just use some more than I do others; I gravitate toward the ones that achieve the affect I want in my metalwork.

Sometimes I find buying a kit makes a lot of sense. It gives me a chance to see what is in a given product line and helps me to find which ones I tend to use the most.  Otto Frei offers this particular kit (pictured above).  Of course, once I have narrowed it down to the ones I frequently use, I routinely order those to have a stock pile on hand.

I consider these the speed version of sanding by hand.  Let’s face it, there are times I need to economize my time and these beauties will cut to the chase for any given metalworking task.  They can do things in seconds that will take several minutes or longer if I hand sand the metal.

They attach to a mandrel and are used with my Foredom flex shaft.  Generally I use a minimum of 3 of the same grit on the mandrel (see the picture below), but you can go up to 6.  The white ones (not included in this kit) are my favorite.

In this picture I’m showing the size difference between the two types I use.  The white one pictured is 1″ in diameter, while the yellow one is 3/4″ in diameter.  They are great for getting into small places that can be hard to reach with sandpaper.  I don’t try to achieve a high polish with these, I just take them up in size to the smallest  micron level depending on the finish I want.  The white one gives a nice texture, tooth to the metal finish that will take oxidation well.  There are times when I just like the texture the white one leaves on the metal surface and consider that as the finish for a piece.  I find them to be very versatile in helping to achieve different finishes.  It’s fun to experiment with them.

As with any work involving power tools, wear your safety glasses when you use these.  The little ‘fingers’ or ‘spider legs‘ do come flying off and I have had them hit me in the face, thus the importance of wearing your safety glasses.

They are a great thing to have in your tool box and I use them frequently as I’m finishing my pieces.  Oh I still do a lot of hand finishing, but when I need to make quick work of taking off a bit of a solder blob ….well, they are just plain handy.  Definitely a plus for my time management in the studio.

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

Kathleen Krucoff

Artist and Metalsmith

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