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That’s right, “Don’t Jump!”  Great advice, and if you want to find out why, you will have to read to the end of this post.

Last month, I got a new torch.  It’s the Meco Midget for oxygen and acetylene.  My incentive for buying this type of torch came directly from the Chris Nelson workshop where I learned to fuse gold to iron.  So much growth and learning has come from my recent classes.


As a result of getting the new torch, I am now learning to weld!  Why?  Well, I am more than a bit surprised myself.


Here’s why I am learning to weld.   My work has always been described as organic.  I tend to love leaves, branches, trees and incorporate them in my works.  With welding, I can create branches and do some pretty cool finished edges on metal too!

The new torch has brought challenges.  Many people do not like acetylene and think of it as a dirty gas.  If you don’t have the gas mixture right when you light the torch, it produces a sooty flame.  That soot is fuel, acetylene, that has not burnt.  I have cleaned up my share of soot as I’m learning about this new torch and fuel system.  However, if you have the right person to show you a few of the ins and outs of this process, well, let me tell you, with practice you can master it and will love it.

In my case, my friend Jerry McClure, offered his advice and expertise.  As a matter of fact, Jerry even went out of his way to come to my studio this past weekend and show me how to use this torch, along with giving me my first welding lesson.  Thank you Jerry!  I think it’s all part of his grand plan to keep me in his debt, but I’m ok with that….it’s good to owe Jerry favors, if you catch my drift.

Let me add, as an aside, that Jerry is an expert knife maker, among other things.  He knows a lot and is more than happy to share. He has a wealth of experience working with iron, steel, damascus and other metals.

Now back to the story.  I will admit that this new torch and gas mix gave me some fits.  Soot particles floating through the air, the loud popping when the fuel blows itself out because I’ve adjusted it incorrectly, and more than I care to say.  However, I’m determined. I have been working on things on my own; having my share of failures and a few successes.  After Jerry demonstrated what the Meco can do, I know this torch is going to be a very valuable asset.

When Jerry first said he was going to show me how to weld, I thought “Why?”.  How in the world was I going to incorporate that into any of  jewelry I make?  Well, I have enough sense and previous experience with Jerry to know when he wants to show me something, just watch and learn because it will make sense.

First thing he started with was making a branch with the welding rod.  Wow.  Impressive.  I can see the possibilities.  This is exciting.

Next the Mud Dauber effect.  What?  That’s right, the mud dauber effect.


The insect


 Their handiwork. 


Jerry’s example of the mud dauber effect.

Now I am not a fan of anything in the bee/wasp/hornet family, but I’ve watched these guys work (from a distance of course) and this technique with a welding rod produced a very interesting look.  I’m going to do a lot of playing/practice in this space.

Getting the right mix of oxygen and acetylene with the torch is key, as I have had it too hot.  Jerry helped a lot in this area, along with explaining things in terms that are easy for me to understand.  With practice, the flame I get, will be the flame I want.

Another cool thing I learned was how I can create edges that are delicate or robust.  The possibilities are intriguing and I will be working on those techniques a lot!


My first practice edging and branches

Just as I suspected, I got why Jerry wanted me to learn how to weld.  Nodding of head and a special smile here.

Last, but certainly not least is why I titled this post “Don’t Jump”.  With sparks flying and torch popping, my natural inclination is to jump.  I’m startled.  This is a new world for me and I certainly have not mastered anything that Jerry has been doing for the past 40+ years.  His greatest advice, “Don’t jump”, coupled with keep a fire extinguisher handy….which I always do.


As long as you respect the flame and have a keen awareness of what you are doing, this is safe.  The onus is on you as the wielder of the torch, to respect it and stay focused on what you are doing.  It is your responsibility and if you cannot be in charge, don’t try any of this.

As Jerry likes to say, what he does is like rocket science but without the rockets!

Thank you Jerry for making the time and going out of your way to stop on Sunday to open a new world of possibilities for me and my work.  I’m in your debt and I know you like that my friend.

As soon as I have new works with these techniques, I will post pictures either here or on my Facebook page.  Thanks for your continued interest in what I do as a metalsmith.

A special thanks to Dan who took the majority of these photos….I especially like the last one where you can literally see a star shaped flying spark!

Until next time, I am, as always, aspiring to be more as an artist and a person.



Happy almost summer everyone!  There is so much going on that I wanted to share what I consider to be ‘important things to remember‘.  So here goes…..

Invest in yourself.  Continuing to learn and grow is an essential part of who I am.  I am a firm believer in investing in yourself.  At the end of May, I was joined by a group of fellow metalsmith friends and  took Chris Nelson’s three day Ferrous Musing workshop.  What a blast and wonderful educational experience.  We learned how to fuse gold to iron.  It is an amazing process and there are so many ways to expand our work with this technique.


Left to Right, Frank Maiolo, Ginny Maiolo, Chris Nelson, Jodie Bliss, Sandy Murphy and me (Kathleen Krucoff)

In attendance were artists/friends I have known for a long time, Ginny & Frank Maiolo (Monument Moon Studio), Sandy Harris Murphy and Jodie Bliss.  We are calling ourselves the Monument Chapter of the Ferrous Musing Gang.  Our respective works are as diverse as our personalities.  Chris had just finished speaking at the Santa Fe Symposium and was brimming with tons of ideas and information for us.

This is the first piece I completed during the workshop. I am happy to report that I have more pieces in the works too.


For all you metalsmiths out there, this is a great workshop.  Our gang plans on taking another workshop with Chris once we hone our skills from this one.  Points of interest on this workshop, Chris covers salt water etching, tool making (chisels for creating your unique textures on metal), fluxes, patinas, pickle, alloying and fusing gold.  Well worth the price of admission and then some.  I believe we all felt we would only be limited by our own imagination.

Be an active participant.  Get involved in your community.  If you are an artist, I strongly recommend participating in local events and getting to know your fellow artists.  This week has a couple of special events that are near and dear to my heart.

  • Art Hop, Monument, CO.  June 19th is the Third Thursday of the month and Art Hop will be in full swing.  Nancy Bonig and I will be at Santa Fe Trail Jewelry from 5 – 8 PM.  Each of us will be doing demos of  at least one of the techniques we use in our respective works.  I can promise this will be fun!  Ginny, Frank and Jodie will be over at Jodie Bliss’ Studio too.  One of the threads that ties all of us together is we are artists in this year’s Front Range Open Studios.  Stop by and visit with us.


  • The Glass Elements Show, Manitou Springs, CO.  Opening reception for this show is Friday, June 20th from 5 – 8 PM.  Show location is the Manitou Art Center, 513 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, CO.  This exhibit runs through August 10th.  An added bonus is several of us have created works from the glass remnants found from last year’s Black Forest Fire.  I have seen some of the works and I can tell you this is a very special show.


Remember the pickle pot.  I have to leave you with something humorous.  I guess some people wouldn’t share their mistakes.  I have learned to laugh at myself and I am grateful for this; my philosophy is life is too short to take yourself too seriously.

After learning so much in the Chris Nelson workshop, I had to purchase a number of things so I could start to use the new technique.   New items in my studio are:

  • A new torch set up, including new fuel tanks.
  • A new work station area.
  • Different flux & pickle (the acid solution to clean your metal).

Sunday I was finishing up my preparations to have everything ready for the new process.  Time to fire up the new torch.  Well, that was a disaster which will be the subject of another blog post!  I’ll leave it at, no fire or undo harm occurred to me or my studio.  I just needed to master the lighting and use of the new torch.  As with all things, practice is essential and important.

I eventually did managed to fuse gold and put the items in my newly prepared pickle for cleaning.  I now have 2 separate pickle pots, each with a different cleaning agent.  We had been warned not to leave things in the iron/gold solution too long as all could be lost, i.e., consumed by the pickle!  I set a timer so I wouldn’t forget, pulled my pieces out and they looked awful….a tangled, globby mess of junk.  I was frustrated.  This on top of the anxiety I had experienced with a new torch/gas set up was too much.  As I will do when things are not going well, I turned everything off, slowly backed out of the studio and closed the door.  Securing a glass of wine in one hand, I found a spot on the couch and snuggled with a loving basset hound to nurse my perceived wounds.

Monday evening a practice run with the torch proved successful!  One hurdle tackled.  On to the pickle pot.  I had turned it on so the solution could heat as I was going to place my pieces in it again to attempt to clean them one more time.  This time I decided to check how warm the pot was, felt the side and it was cold.  It was at that point that the light dawned….I may have turned the pot on, BUT since it was a new pot, I had NOT PLUGGED IT INTO THE SOCKET!  In the words of Homer Simpson, “DOH!!!!”


Pot plugged in, solution warmed, pieces submerged.  The appropriate amount of time later, pieces were cleaned!

There are several morals to this story.

  1. When you are having problems, making mistakes, I have found it is best to stop and retreat.  Get some rest and come back to it another day if at all possible.
  2. Retrace your steps.  Never assume (ya, I think we’ve all seen that diagram of the word assume).
  3. And yes, it is just as important to turn your pickle pot on (check the power supply to the pot) as it is to turn it off.

In the very near future, I will be writing a blog post about my new Meco torch, an oxygen/acetylene set up.  Given how limited information was on the web about this, I will review and with Dan’s help, post a video on important aspects about this type of system.

Until next time, (hope to see you at some of the local events), aspire to be more as a person and an artist.



Kathleen Krucoff

Artist and Metalsmith

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