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“Awareness” by Anthony deMello is a book that I read over 10 years ago. It has left a lasting impression. One of the most important things this book did for me was make me aware of  the very negative emotion, fear. Mr. deMello discusses how to recognize the signs that fear is trying to take over your decision making.  As far as I am concerned, fear is one of the most insidious emotions.  Decisions based on or out of fear are the worse ones anyone can make.  This book came to me at a time in my life where I could have easily made some horrific decisions had I done so out of fear.  Thanks to the information in this book, I have an awareness that allows me to recognize when fear is trying to influence what I want to do.

Today I want to discuss how fear can block your creativity.  The fear of failure can and does stall us in our creative explorations.  Yet I have found that failures lead the way to successes.  Let me show you some examples.

Variety of soldering experiments and failures.

These sad little gems are in my scrap pile.  Things that seemed like a good idea on paper, but in reality, not so much.  Some are soldering mistakes.  Some are designs that just didn’t work.  I just kept trying things, not letting the fear of failure stop me in my tracks.

Melted bezels

The dreaded melted bezel.  Some can be salvaged.  It’s just one of those discouraging thumps to the head when it happens.   Does it stop me from continuing?  No.  Some days I just know I need to take a break, turn off the torch & the pickle pot, close the door to the studio and come back another day.  The important thing is to come back and try again another day.

I persisted, in spite of those failures, that could have very easily taken me down the path of fearing I just can’t go any further.  Determination is one of my key success factors when battling the fear of failure.  If it was easy, anyone could do it, right?

I believe my persistence paid off.  Elements is a new series I haven’t discussed much in my blog.  Here’s one of the examples from the series.  Those little triangle shapes in my soldering experiment photo show that persistence with that idea finally paid off with this pendant.

Serentiy from Elements
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

Veracity is another new series for me this year.  Putting a bezel around a heart shape can be tricky, but I found a way that works well and have had so much fun with these heart shapes now.  Well worth the initial struggles.

Picturesque from Veracity
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

You see, all those failed attempts eventually led me to something that worked.  The key, I didn’t give up.  I kept trying.  I refused to be afraid to try something else.  I’ll admit that this year I explored many avenues for new works.  Initially, I know I was blocked by a fear of failure.  Once I realize that fear is trying to play a role in what I want to accomplish, I literally relax and block it.  That step, in and of itself, is freeing.  I am able to just go forward, know that I may and will make mistakes as I’ve shown here.  Yet when I keep trying, something wonderful is waiting for me.  In a sense, it’s  like that story about the optimistic child who is presented with a room full of horse manure.  He excitedly exclaims, there must be a pony in here!

We need to seek the positive.  Ignore negativity and adversity, they are fear’s companions.  Their role is to bring us down.  Please don’t let them.

Why this post?  I want all of you to look FEAR in the eye and stare it down.  Become Aware of it and what it tries to do to you.  Don’t let it beat you.  Overcome it.  FEAR is powerful and strong.  It will rule anyone who succumbs to it.  The mere fact that you can recognize it, be aware of it, when it rears its ugly head, puts you on the road to success, new ideas, being creative, tapping into the creative channel that is there waiting for you.

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

The Spirit Beckons
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

On this quiet Sunday morning, I find myself reflecting on the events of the past few weeks.  The shows, talking with supporters of the arts, discussing art with fellow artists, the solicitations to participate in future shows, preparations for Jewelry at the Gardens, quiet time with Dan & the bassets….good stuff.

This morning I finally got back to reading The Simple Abundance and this quote struck me:

Expect your every need to be met, expect the answer to every problem, expect abundance on every level, expect to grow spiritually.” ~ Eileen Caddy

Managing expectations is very important.  I find it keeps life on an even keel.  My preference to to remain calm, centered.  Managing ones expectations contributes to staying focused….at least it does for me.

I thought this new piece from Veracity is a nice compliment to my reflective mood this morning.  I call it The Spirit Beckons because of the spirit figure I see in this stone….as if a long, feathery arm is stretching out, beckoning one to come and follow.  It’s a positive sign.  I also see a shadowy mountain in the background of the landscape within this stone.  The stone, Porcelain Jasper, from Ken Brittain of Rogue Gems.   I discovered Ken’s work this year and I have become a fan.

Continuing to use copper as an accent in my work, as I find copper adds warmth and brings a certain depth to a piece.  In this pendant, I think the copper and sterling combination definitely accentuate the hues in the stone colorations.

Time for me to head back to my bench and get to work.

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.

Etched Sterling Cuff Bracelet
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Well, it’s almost here. Castle Rock Artfest. This Saturday and Sunday. Our weather is supposed to be nice and I’m ready. The car is packed with my displays. We set up today and bring our works on Saturday morning to complete our booth.

I worked on several new series for this show.  Over the past few months as I’ve been preparing for my fall schedule of events, I have had lots of thoughts on art.  I’ve had a chance to interact with many of my metalsmithing friends and colleagues.  I have this feeling that I’ve just started to scratch the surface of what I want to do and who I want to be as an artist.  It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to the roller coaster ride that is coming.

Why do we create?  What drives us?  I have loved working with my hands all my life.  I’ve mentioned that I was never one to color inside the lines and to a certain degree, I’m still that way.  I’ve read many blog posts about why artist make their art.  I’m left with the impression that those who truly love to create, love to make art in their medium, well….it is a passion.  A zest for life, creating something that is an expression of who they are, what they feel, and an extension of themselves.  I feel that passion in creating.  I get that passion as I work.  I need that passion in my life because it makes me feel alive, complete, whole.

I thought I would share a few of those new pieces that will debut at Castle Rock this weekend.  I hope they speak to their new collectors and will find their homes.  I hope they convey the passion that I feel about metalworking.

The Storm
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

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.

Heart Stones

These heart shaped stones are waiting for their settings.

Even though I haven’t done many posts recently about the pieces I am working on, I definitely have been sitting at my bench pin sawing metal in preparation for fabrication, drawing sketches in my sketch books, hand finishing the metal in preparation for assembly, among other things.

I’ve been internalizing a lot of thoughts about my work.  That has helped me to begin to understand the direction I want to go and what steps I need to take to get there.  I firmly believe it is not so much about the destination, but the journey that takes us there.

There was a time in July when I had taken on too many things.  I guess I had kept saying “Yes, I’ll do that” and then my lists of tasks and responsibilities were growing.  The realization that I was trying to do too much hit.  Thanks to my wonderful husband, Dan, he encouraged me to put boundaries on my time.  Fortunately I was able to take several steps back and begin to work at my pace again.  One of the things that started to happen, because I was trying to do too much, was I was losing the joy of doing the things I loved.  Not good.

You see, when whatever you do is no longer fun, what is the point of doing it?  I had reached the point where the joy was gone from exercising, working, making art… I was just going through the motions….it almost felt mechanical…..well that just had to stop.  It has.  Not only am I managing my time better, but I’m managing my tasks better.  I have a long way to go, but I am very happy to report that the joy has returned.  If something doesn’t get done, it just waits until I can get to it.   One exception here….the bassets don’t wait to be fed….they get fed on time.  They’re funny about that…..

So yes, this beautiful collection of hearts, along with a few others that didn’t make the photo, are waiting.  It really is a quite simple principle.  Everything will get done in due time. I have their designs complete.  The setting for each one is cut out and ready for the next step.  All of these will be part of my Veracity Series and I will have a few at the Castle Rock Artfest September 10 – 11.  Check out their website for more details and I will mention a bit more about it too as the dates draw near.

When the hearts are completed, Dan will take photos of them, and I will be posting the stories behind a certain few.  With this series, I’ve also started to assign serial numbers to them that are stamped on the back.  Lexi suggested doing this because it is something Harold does.  Each piece is unique, why not begin documenting them?

Have any of you face similar situations, taking on more than one should?  If so, what solutions have you found?  I’d enjoy hearing your approach.

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

Kathleen Krucoff

Artist and Metalsmith

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