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Climb Every Mountain
Mountainesque Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Life has its challenges, doesn’t it? I think I’ve been fortunate because I believe I learn and grow from these challenges as they are presented.

For me, this piece symbolizes the challenges that life presents and with all the mountain shapes in this one, I just felt it echoed the challenge to “Climb Every Mountain“. Maybe a bit of the Sound of Music is resonating with me too.  Yet, I think that mountains, in all their rugged beauty, beckon us and present challenges for those adventurous to dare.  If we are honest with ourselves, isn’t that part of what life is all about?  The challenges and how we respond to them?  Can you tell I think there is A LOT of symbolism in this piece?

The stone is another beautiful Sonoran Sunrise I acquired from Gary B Wilson.  It is set in sterling silver that I’ve oxidized to create additional depth.

I wish I could report that I have achieved my February goal of completing 25 pieces in my Mountainesque Series, however, I do have 10 completed pieces.  You see, February had a few challenges in it for me and sometimes ya just gotta roll with it.

To my way of thinking, I have 10 pieces done and more in my sketch book.  I will continue to debut them here.  Stay tuned, I think there are some real beauties in this series.

Hope you enjoyed reading about the symbolism of this piece.  Do any of you have any work that symbolizes something so strongly for you?  I know some of you definitely have those pieces in your body of work.  I’d love to know your thoughts.

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

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Mountain Valley
Mountainesque Series
Photo credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Another piece from my Mountainesque Series.  It’s similar to the two piece styles you have seen in my Soul Searching and Timeless Series, however, when you click on the photo to see the larger view, you will be able to see the mountain outline at the top of the lower piece.

Sonoran Sunrise stones where used for both components.  This is one of Dan’s favorites out of this current series.

The reason I have called this one Mountain Valley is because of the imagery I see in the lower stone.  A rich red sky at sunset, with the outline of two mountain peaks and the green, lush valley below.

As you could probably tell from my previous post about Mountainesque, I’m having so much fun coming up with designs for this new series.  My goal was to have 25 – 30 pieces completed by the end of this month, however, I fell short of that target.  Rest assured, there are more in the works and I’m confident I’ll have 25 – 30 piece finished by the end of February.

Thanks for your time and interest in my work.  I always enjoy your feedback.

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


Embrace The Light
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

I feel like this is one of my most powerful pieces to date. It’s the stone that really speaks to me.

In August, my favorite stone cutter, Gary B. Wilson, introduced me to Porcelain Jasper. He knows I love purple and he had a number of these stones. I wanted to wait and see them in person when he and his family came to Denver for the Gem & Mineral Show in September. It was worth the wait.

On an unbelievably beautiful September day, Lexi & I were one of the first to visit Gary’s booth. I immediately asked him about those purple stones and he produced a tray of the lovelies. This stone was the first to catch my eye and as large as it was, I knew it would make a magnificent piece. It is part of my private collection. I have a smaller Porcelain Jasper that I acquired that day, but I knew I had a deep connection with this one and it belonged to me.

Why did I call this Embrace The Light? There is that bright spot in the stone, surrounded by what I envision to be lightening or electrical charges. For me that bright spot symbolized the light that beckons us as we leave this world. It is my belief that we embark on a new journey when we leave this world and it is the light that beckons our spirits to come and join. I was drawn to this; drawn to the light. I know, I know, never discuss religion or politics. I’m just sharing the feeling that this piece evokes in me and what I see in this particular stone.

I also felt that incorporating reticulated silver was important to accentuate those lightening bolts surrounding the light in this stone. Right now I find that I like to have at least two, if not three, moving components in a piece. Until I feel the need to move on in my current designs, I think you will continue to see this type of style in my work. I was fighting this for a while and thought, I like the look, I will continue with it until something else takes its place.

2010 has been an eye opener for me and filled with a great deal of personal & artistic growth. I am thankful for so many things. The people in my life… my soul mate, Dan, whose photographs of my work take my breath away and makes what I do look incredible! His gentle strength, support and love has seen me through many a trying time. Our delightful bassets; everyone needs a studio mascot and I have three! My terrific online friends who amaze me with their incredible talents and support. And last, but certainly not least, my dear, dear sister Lexi…without her guidance and inspiration I would be lost.

2011 can only bring more challenges, surprises and opportunities. May all of you have the Merriest of Christmases and a Joyful, Prosperous New Year.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person. You know I am. Thank you all.


The Poster for the Event

What a weekend. The weather was fantastic. I was honored and humbled to be part of this event and share the experience with so many wonderful and talented artists. It was great.

My dear friend and mentor, Lexi Erickson, asked me to design the poster and post card for this show. I happily agreed and the top picture is the poster in its final form.

Not many people can say they have done a show with Harold O’Connor. I had the good fortune to be in a show with two of my idols, Harold O’Connor and Lexi Erickson.

Harold O’Conner, me, and Lexi

I don’t think my feet were touching the ground in that picture!  And both Harold and Lexi signed a copy of the poster for me….now that’s going to be framed and hung in my studio as a reminder of a very special event and the great inspiration both of these talented individuals are to me.  Thank you Harold and Lexi.

The crowd was wonderful. I believe all of us had good sales and hopefully that is an indicator that things are turning around in the art world when it comes to the sales of our works.

Several of you have asked that I post pictures of my work that sold. Well, here goes….  Oh, and all of the photos were taken by Dan, so I’m just going to say at the beginning of all of these great photos to follow:  Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff.

My first sale of the day was a pair of reticulated earrings I called Ocean Waves. Great to have that first sale of the show.  How fitting that the first sale was also the reticulated silver that I made during my workshop with Harold in May of this year!


Ocean Waves
Timeless Series

The next sale was a pendant and a pair of earrings.

It’s a Matter of Attitude (previous blog post)
Soul Searching Series


Unidelta Tree
Tribute to Pandora Series

And then things just started to blur together…..

Binary Sunshine (previous blog post)
Tribute to Pandora Series


Puff Ball Tree
Tribute to Pandora Series

Another pair of earrings, Pendulum, that I never got a picture of before the show, so they aren’t in this group ….

Chalice Plant
Tribute to Pandora Series

And then I was completely blown away….

Dimensions in Time
Timeless Series

Yes, that’s right, one of my bracelets sold. A multitude of beautiful stones, hours of work, and its beauty was not lost on the person who bought this. She has a discerning eye, as did many of the shoppers this weekend. Coupled with that was an appreciation for the art that this bracelet represents. She also purchased Break Through (pictured below) and I know my pieces have gone to someone who understands. Actually, all of my pieces went to people who got it. What a wonderful affirmation for an artist.

Break Through
Soul Searching Series


Independence
Soul Searching Series

Pretty incredible.  The show, the weekend, the crowds, the talented artists, the beautiful venue, the experience….ALL exceeded my expectations.  I truly believe I found my audience.  It has infused me with new enthusiasm and the belief that I am on the right path as an artist.  It is my wish for all of you, my friends, to find that path we are destined to follow.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me.


Free Spirit
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

The stones are Teal Blood Stones from India. I purchased them from Michael Hendrix of Minerax at the sneak preview evening for Colorado Metalsmiths during Denver Gem and Mineral Show week last month. It was an easy pairing for me. Although both are the same stone family, they just looked like they belonged together. I couldn’t wait to pair them and set them in sterling.

Michael Hendrix is such a nice person.  He has his unique style for the stones he cuts.  And he is generous with his knowledge about the stones and why he cuts the shapes he does.  I liked his commentary on his expectations that art jewelers should look to be innovative and embrace unusual stone cuts in their designs.  Of course, I like a challenge.

Admittedly, these stones are cut in shapes that I find easy to work with, however, I did buy a few of those challenging pieces from Michael and I look forward to the creative juices kicking in as I work on their designs.

I don’t have many teal or bluish colored stones in my inventory.  However, when I saw these, I just couldn’t resist adding them.  I know I’m still finding what my true color palette is, yet part of me is resisting this….I don’t think I like the sense of feeling limited by just working with certain colors.  There are so many beautiful stones, I just don’t want to restrict what I will work with.  That may change as I continue to grow as an art jeweler.  For now, I enjoy the liberating feeling of experimenting with colors, shapes, stones, and textures.

Perhaps this experimentation led me to the title for this piece, Free Spirit.  It feels like this piece can soar high above the clouds.  As I looked at the completed work, all I could think was Free Spirit, so that is its moniker.

I felt it was necessary to keep things simple in this design because of the beautiful stones.  I textured the backdrop for the top stone and lightly oxidized the sterling settings.

Free Spirit will be available a week from tomorrow (10/16/2010), opening day for our Jewelry at the Gardens Show.  I think its a perfect piece for the setting we are so fortunate to have at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

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


Inner Strength
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

This was one of those stones. I found it at Gary B Wilson’s booth during April when he, Kathy, and Jesse were in Denver for Beadfest. It caught my eye immediately and I just knew I had to come up with a design that wouldn’t detract from the beauty of the stone. I went through so many sketches, that I will share here. I’m a little embarrassed to show some of these sketches, however, I think it is important/relevant for those who read my blog to understand the journey I take with a piece as I bring it to its final state.  Plus one of the goals I have with this blog is to document my journey as a metalsmith.  I hope you will enjoy my creative journey with Inner Strength.

The stone is an Amethyst Sage.  I’ve never seen one quite like this.  The markings within the stone are so beautiful. And that shade of purple, more lavender, is so rich and lush to me.  As many of you know, I have a passion for all things purple.

I truly struggled with finding the right design.  Here’s the first one.

Whew, is that like the flying red horse logo that Mobile gas had eons ago?  Ok, I just carbon dated myself with that one.  For those of you scratching your heads, here’s the logo I’m referring to….

Oh sure, now you can see the resemblance!  When I was a kid I loved horses, this was one of my favorite horse images, so maybe it crept into that initial design?

Well, I scrapped that one and moved on to these…..

Ya, I just couldn’t get that flying horse out of my mind yet, could I?  I did like the one in the bottom of this, but my gut was telling me it was too busy with that gorgeous stone.

Then I went off and tried some stone pairings to see if that was a way to go….

Pretty, yes, but it just wasn’t speaking to me.  Back to the drawing board, literally!

I thought I was getting somewhere now. I have this thing for two pieces that create movement, plus I really like what a tube set (that little circle at the bottom right of the sketch) does with a little faceted stone. But, for me the stone was upside down. I wanted it to have a different orientation that I felt was a better presentation of the markings within the stone.

Definitely more progress. The stone’s orientation is what I wanted. I still had a little tube set accent. I just wasn’t satisfied.

Almost there! There was a piece of broom casting that reminded me of Delicate Arch in Utah. I thought it was a great compliment to the stone. I still felt like something was missing.

Found it!  One of those moments.  I had done enough to get my subconscious working.  I think reticulated silver is gorgeous and all of a sudden I could see how the folds of silver would compliment the markings within the stone.  My ah-ha moment!  I had this beautiful reticulation that I had made during the Harold O’Connor workshop and one piece was made for this stone.  Plus I could include that little piece of broom casting too.  I gave up the tube set, but you know, that was ok.

I love the way the oxidation turned out on the piece too; nice subtle colors to compliment the stone.

On September 16, I wore Inner Strength to the Denver Gem & Mineral Show and got to show it to Gary, Kathy and Jesse.  The highest compliment I could have received was when Gary, who cut this beautiful stone, told me that I did a great job with its setting.  Kathy & Jesse also complimented me on this piece.  Talk about making my day.  Thank you Gary, Kathy & Jesse!

I am finding too that Dan continues to exceed my expectations when he photographs my work.  He is one awesome photographer in my book!

I hope you enjoyed reading about Inner Strength’s journey to fruition.  Why Inner Strength?  I think we all have more inner strength than we know.  Persistence is the key to so many things in life and it definitely enhances ones Inner Strength.  This is part of my Timeless Series.

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


Namaste
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Namaste. A term I associate with my Yoga practice and feeling peaceful, happy, centered. The literal meaning of the word is “I bow to you”. However, I prefer the definition that Mandy Ingber, of Yogalosophy, provides…. “The Spirit in me salutes The Spirit in you”.

As I looked at this finished piece, I felt such a sense of peace and calm. I feel this was a subtle change in my work. I did several things I had not done before. Dan thought it best demonstrated metalwork because my design didn’t ‘feed’ off of the stones….that is their shapes or markings.

The creation of this piece took some interesting twists and turns.  I knew immediately that I liked the pairing of the round Petrified Palm Wood with the tongue shaped Imperial Jasper.  I had never set a tongue shaped stone before; when I bought it from Gary B Wilson in April, Lexi was with me and she said it was no problem.  She explained how and I laughed and said “Duh”!  Just had to think about it after she told me what I needed to do and of course it made sense.  Thanks Lexi!

This is my initial sketch of what I wanted to do.  I knew I wanted a sun like background for the round Petrified Palm Wood.  And just having the sharp edges wouldn’t work, it would need to be overlaid on a backing so the wearer wouldn’t be poked by sharp edges.

You can see from this that I was initially thinking of calling the piece ‘Leap’.  And I was concerned about the number of ‘rays’ emanating from the circle.  I showed Lexi my sketch one night during one of my lessons and she suggested that I reduce the number of ‘rays’.  She had a little sunshine charm, which I photographed, and thought I could use as an example of where I wanted to take this piece.

It definitely was where I wanted to go with the rays.  I’m certain it helped me as I worked on more sketches as shown in this next photo.

You can see I still couldn’t get away from my design to have lots of ‘rays’.  The sketch in the lower left corner became the final one for the rays.  I had never tried to saw a shape like this before and I thought, let’s give it a whirl.  I’m accepting Lexi’s philosophy of “It’s only metal”.  Hey, I can recycle any failures by broomcasting or other means, so it’s ok.  Try it, see what happens, you may be pleasantly surprised!  Well, I was very happy with the result.  Ah, but there’s more to this story….

I overlaid my ray piece on top of its rounded square back plate.  Set the bezel for the stone.  Had a bit of trouble with that bezel and there was this ‘bubble’ in the center which was telling me I wasn’t doing it right.  Things finally got to the point where I overheated the piece and it started to melt!  Oops.  But remember, “It’s only metal”.  Here’s the piece that taught me a lot from the failure…..

The arrow is pointed to the bubble.  I really liked the rays in this one too, but I still had my template from my drawing so it was ok.

I started again.  This time I drilled a hole in the center of that ray piece to allow the air to escape and prevent the bubble.  Completed the overlay of the ray on a its back plate and soldered the bezel in place.  Added a bail to the back of the top piece.  Completed the setting for the tongue piece.  Soldered the joining jump rings in place that connect the two settings.  Set the stones, oxidized the sterling and viola!  Namaste was born.

The journey to bring this piece into being was a lot of fun for me, in spite of a few set backs.  Learning and understanding how to do things appeals to me.  And I feel like I am rewarded in many ways by going through the process.

Believe me, I know how fortunate I am to have a mentor like Lexi Erickson.  Her encouragement as my teacher and closest friend is invaluable.  Dan too provides that encouragement and support as I work in the studio and come out for breaks or discussions about what I am doing.  Of course, the bassets are my studio mascots and there is at least one of them in there while I’m working….sometimes underfoot…..sometimes sleeping at my feet.

Remember, failure is as much a part of life as success.  If we accept that failures are showing us a better direction, a better way if you will, it becomes a winning situation for us.  Embrace the journey.

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


Living In the Moment
Timeless Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

So many times I think we have a tendency to think about what is going to happen in the future, what has happened in the past.  Instead of just Living in the Moment and treasuring that specific moment in time.  Recent events have provided an awareness that I need to focus on the current moment.  Live in that moment.  When it is gone, it is a memory.  Embrace that instance in time and stop thinking about what might happen tomorrow or the next day or the next week.  Remember the good things that happened in the past.  Cherish the present.   It’s all we have.

This piece spoke to me about Living in the Moment.  Embrace it.  As I thought of a title for this, all I could think of was “live in this moment in time“.  It is part of my Timeless Series.  This will be available at the upcoming show, Jewelry at the Gardens, which will take place at the Denver Botanic Gardens on October 16 & 17.  There will be more information on this show as the date draws near.

Petrified Palm Wood is set in sterling silver.  The stone is one I purchased from Gary B Wilson when he, his wife and daughter were in Denver this past April.  It is a beautiful stone.  The top circle is reticulated silver that I domed and soldered onto a sterling back plate.  The reticulated silver was one of the pieces I made during the Harold O’Connor workshop during the end of May.  I’m finding ways to use reticulation in a number of my pieces.  I love how the silver folds into peaks and valleys.

Again, my thanks to Dan for taking photos of my work that makes my pieces look so good I find myself asking “Is that one of my pieces?”  I am so blessed to have him in my life for so many reasons.

It may be too early for some of you to see where I’m going with this Timeless Series, however, I would still love to hear your thoughts about it.

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


Strength
Spirit Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Picasso Stones have moved to the top of my favorite list for drop dead, gorgeous stones. There is something classy & elegant about black/brown/white hues for me. Picasso Stones remind me of trees. And my Dad was a landscaper by trade and he taught me about the beauty trees have; respect them, nurture them. They have an innate strength.

I fell in love with these stones the minute I saw them at Gary B. Wilson’s booth this April when he and his wife, Kathy, and one of their daughters returned to Denver. I have a number of Picasso Stone beauties, but these, well, they would be mine.

Lately I have been thinking about my line of Art Jewelry. It is important to me that my jewelry convey an inner strength for its wearer. I don’t make dainty pieces. I like to think they reflect that bold, strong spirit of a woman who knows herself, what she wants from life, and she isn’t afraid to do what it takes to achieve her goals. Perhaps I’m revealing a bit of my inner self here.

These earrings symbolize Strength to me.  The courage to be an individual.  And you know what is great?  My husband loves and appreciates the qualities strong women possess.  How awesome is that?  Because I am one of those strong women.  And my closest friends are women who know themselves.  Fear is something to be conquered and pushed aside.  There’s no place in life for fear because it is the most destructive of emotions.  At least that is what I think and believe.

So I have taken these beautiful stones and done my best to showcase their beauty, their strength.  They are set in Sterling Silver.  I have added a bit of texture to let their tree like lines extend into the surface of the setting.  For the top, I’ve added a touch of 14kt Keum Boo as a compliment to the markings in the stone.  They have become part of my personal collection.

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


The Journey Begins
Soul Searching Series
Photo credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

At one point, I thought my Soul Searching Series was drawing to an end….yet as I continue to develop new art jewelry designs, I find that there will always be pieces that belong in that series. These earrings definitely belong. Another beautiful Jasper set from Gary B Wilson. I’m convinced that Jasper stones will remain at the top of my favorite stones list. As with so many jaspers, I can see a scene…as if it is somewhere I’ve been or would like to visit. This one reminds me of embarking on a new path, a new direction if you will. So I give you The Journey Begins.

These are the largest earrings I have made to date.  The nice thing is that they are not that heavy, although I did use sterling silver posts, rather than french hooks, to provide additional support when these are worn.  The stones are set in sterling silver and I have textured the settings.  24kt Keum Boo accents were added to the top portion as complimentary accents to the images in the stones.

Why call these The Journey Begins?  Don’t you look forward to the excitement of a new adventure? What awaits as we travel the path? Change is a natural part of life, as is growth I believe. Without those elements, doesn’t life become a bit boring? I embrace change. I look forward to it.  Currently I feel like I am embarking on a new life journey, artistically that is, and so The Journey Begins for me.  What wonders will happen along the way? May they be joyous.

Care to share your thoughts and experiences about your life journeys?  Please feel free to do so, I’d enjoy hearing what you have encountered.

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

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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