Last Day to Enter!

 Contests/Calls  Comments Off on Last Day to Enter!
Apr 292010

Don’t forget!

Today is the last day to enter the GIVEAWAY!!!

It’s easy!

Just go to the GIVEAWAY post
and leave a comment!

Good Luck!

(oh, we did decide on a prize – its going to be the Fretz Chasing Hammer!)


Apr 212010

I first met Christy online. I hadn’t really spoken to her much, I would just see her posting on occassion on some forums I frequented. Then one day I received an email stating she wanted to come to the Jewelry Artists Retreat. That was in 2008. She came, not knowing any of us, and fit right in immediately. I am very honored to call her a friend.



Tell us a bit about yourself – where you grew up, your childhood dreams..was art a part of that?

When I was a little kid, maybe 7, in upstate NY, my sisters and I would get a present from our grandparents. One for all of us. We got a record player. Awesome! I took it to the basement and made myself a potters’ wheel, good for one (quick) use. I put a piece of cardboard on the turntable, got my clay and some water… I’d say art has always played a part in how my mind works, yeah.

Where are you located now?
Currently we live in Virginia. I love it here. It could be warmer longer, but for the most part it’s great.

Describe your studio/creative space:
I have a big room on the first floor of our home that I rearrange constantly. I try to leave enough room open to have 4 or 5 people come and play with me. When we were building the house, people wondered what kind of weirdos or physically disabled persons would put industrial linoleum and a vent through the wall into a downstairs bedroom. 

How did you get into jewelry making?
I’ve always made stuff.  Actually, this go-round, we saw some beaded bookmarks for sale in a bookstore and thought – pfft -I could do that! Started looking at beads in Michaels, realized I could make those.. Began lampworking in 2003. My heart has been into metalsmithing since I saw the movie Johnny Tremain is elementary school. When he poured that molten metal – whoo boy! So first opportunity I took a beginning silversmithing class at William Holland. 2004 I think. Can’t recommend that place enough. It’s a real “pass this skill onto future generations” place.

If you could go back to the beginning and do one thing differently, what would it be?
I would have begun sooner. I spend too much of my life not doing things that I want to do — for lame and unacceptable reasons, usually cost or time or just thinking I shouldn’t do it for me… Lame and a waste of time!

How would you describe your style? 

I don’t think I have a style.  Organic? 

 What makes your work unique?
I don’t think I devote enough time yet to it to say my work is unique. Some day. I put a lot of prayer for the person who will eventually wear it into each piece. That might be sorta unique, but most likely not.

What are your favorite materials?
I am a sucker for gold. I love gemstones, glass, sparkly thangs. I like plain old river rocks and fossils. Love cabs from the earth with gorgeous pictures in them.

Has the internet affected your work/business? If yes, how so?
When I was devoting more time to putting work up on the web, I sold a good deal. Life and work has gotten in the way for awhile, but everything goes like tides and seasons, so I know I’ll be back in full swing at some point. I do love having access to so much information and inspiration, though. And I love that I have made so many lifetime friends through the internet.


What are your thoughts on:
“inspiration, imitation, infringement – when similarities in work go too far”

 Here’s my opinion about that. There is nothing new under the sun. OK, maybe plastic. Plastic is new. If we were in some kind of situation where only the exact same people viewed our work it might be an issue. But honestly, I look at books about ancient adornment and am awed by the skill and designs employed thousands of years ago without modern tools! I think there are a lot more issues in this life and world worth worrying over than whether somebody’s earrings look like mine.

How do you deal with periods of “creative block” or low creativity?
I funnel it elsewhere. Usually happens when I have too much work going on.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received related to your craft/business?
When I took my first silversmithing class with Don and Ann, I showed them a pair of earrings I love and said I’d like to learn how – did they think I’d ever be able to? Ann said, “Of course you can do that!” That’s the best dvice. You can do anything you want to. You just have to have patience and work through the steps to gain the skills.

What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting out?
Believe in yourself. If you mess up, so what? The world will continue to spin and that’s one less mistake you have to fulfill before attaining your goal, honing your skills.

Who are some of your favorite artists and crafters?
Currently? Michael Boyd. Michael Boyd. Michael Boyd.

What do you do when you aren’t working on jewelry ?
I am a graphic designer. I’m in front of the computer most of every day. Oh and always learning new software relating to that work. I also have a husband and 5 kids, only one still at home till she goes off to college in August. On the best days I’m spending time with her!

What would we be surprised to find out about you?
I used to be very outgoing and a political activist. And 2” taller. : – (
I like a wide variety of music, it makes me happy. 
Define success for us, what does it mean to you?
Success is when your friends and family think you are the best at what you do relationship-wise. Mother, Father, sister, brother, friend… Anything else you do successfully is just gravy – or icing; the good topper. 
Where would oyu like to see yourself in ten years?
I would like to be spending a lot more time at the bench, particularly working with gold, precious and semi-precious stones. And I’d like to be teaching occasional classes to beginners at places like William Holland. 


Anything else you’d like to share?
Well, I have a big bag of tootsie rolls. 
 Some of Christy’s work:



you can view more of Christy’s work here:
To see past SPOTLIGHTS, click here 
To be considered for a SPOTLIGHT!, or suggest an artist, please use the contact tab at the top.


 Posted by at 1:20 pm

Kathleen Krucoff

 SPOTLIGHT!  Comments Off on Kathleen Krucoff
Mar 262010
Kathleen Krucoff featured artist Jewelry Artists Network

Today’s featured artist is Kathleen Krucoff. I first met Kathleen (online) when I stumbled upon her glasswork.

I fell in love with the bold colors and strong lines. I think I contacted her to find out where and how to purchase a piece and I’ve been following her blogs ever since.

It was fun to read her SPOTLIGHT! responses, I hope you will enjoy them as well and that you’ll leave a comment letting her know!


Where are you located?
I live in Colorado, just northeast of Colorado Springs in a community known as the Black Forest.

Describe your studio or creative space:
When my husband and I built our home 5 years ago, I designed a studio space for my glass work. Now that I am a metalsmith, I have a bit of an overflow for my two mediums and my studio space expanded to another area where my jeweler’s bench resides. Both areas where I work have great natural light, which I think is very important. My main studio has several windows that look out to our backyard and I enjoy watching the birds or our basset hounds when I need a break from my work.

You are both a glass artist and a metalsmith – tell us a little about how you got your start and the progression of your art.

Ever since I was a child, I loved drawing and coloring books were some of my prized possessions. My mother encouraged me to pursue art but I just didn’t know the direction to take until I took my first stained glass class in 1982. I was hooked.

About 7 or 8 years ago I met a wonderful glass artist, Deb Steddom from Manitou Springs, and she was the impetus for me to start drawing my original stained glass designs. I think she was my ‘spark’.

Three years ago I started working with fused glass and could not believe how fascinated I became with the process. I think that was the turning point for my glass work becoming a bit more abstract and organic.

At the beginning of last year I met Lexi Erickson and she has forever changed my life. Lexi became the ‘fire’ for me, her nickname in metalsmithing circles is “The Torch”, so it’s understandable that she would be the ‘fire’ for my art jewelry work and my new direction. Lexi encouraged me to take her weekend metalsmithing workshop that covers a semester of work. She said we would take my glass jewelry to the next level and what happened was I fell in love with metal. It has opened up a new world of creativity for me and I am excited to see what the future holds.

Is working in two mediums conflicting or enhancing?
I believe working with two mediums is a great asset. In some sense they feed off of one another. I love working with my hands; I find it very centering. Both mediums require taking design ideas, cutting the shapes needed to form the designs and putting them together. Yes each takes a different skill set, yet the basic premise of a construction of parts is required for the end result ~ art.

One of the things I experience is as I work in one medium, an idea will take shape of something I could create in the other. I can’t really explain the how or why, but it happens a lot. Especially when I feel in the zone, you know that creative zone and sense of tranquility when you are in the moment working with something you love.

I love working with metal and glass; I hope I never have to chose between the two because I’m not sure I could. Sometimes I think that metalwork was just a natural progression for me because stained glass windows require the use of metal (lead) in their constructions.

If you could go back to the beginning of your journey, what would you change – if anything?
I would have followed my mother’s advice back when I was in high school and pursued an art education. At that time I think I was too young to understand or see a career in art, so it took me a while to come full circle. However, I think the good thing about my life journey in art is my experiences have helped to shape the work I create today.

How would you describe your style?
My style is strongly influenced by nature. The shapes of leaves, colors of the sky, mountains, clouds. Many of my friends see a very organic, earthy influence in my work. I like that.

How do you deal with periods of “creative block” or low creativity?
That is a tough one. Last year I learned that I can break through what I call “The Wall” by finding a quiet place to view the mountains. We have a nice view of Pikes Peak from our loft and I’ll go there with my journal, listen to some relaxing music, meditate and watch the color shifts in the mountains. Eliminating that block doesn’t happen immediately, sometimes those steps just free up my subconscious and then I’ll wake up around 4 AM with ideas just flooding my mind. I can capture them in my journal first thing in the morning. It’s quite freeing.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received related to your art?
Don’t over think it. Just start doing it.

What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting out?
Do what you love. Recognize fear for what it is and refuse to give it any control over you.

Who are some of your favorite artists and crafters?
In the world of metalsmiths, the obvious one is Lexi Erickson. She is my dear friend, mentor, and ‘sister’. Of course, there is the phenominal talents of art jewelers such as Harold O’Connor, Todd Reed, Wendy Edsall-Kerwin & Nicola Callow

I love the painting of Tracey Clarke, Karen Phipps, and Don Michael Jr.

And then there are the true masters of their domain who I admire: Frank Lloyd Wright, Dale Chihuly, Louis Comfort Tiffany.

What do you do when you aren’t working with jewelry/glass ?
I love to cycle, road cycle. And I have some flower gardens. I do yoga and pilates. My husband & I hike. And then there are the three basset hounds we share our home with. Plus there is the day job that supports the habits! I don’t have much idle time.

What would we be surprised to find out about you?
I went back to school to get a B.S. in Computer Science and changed careers in the 90’s. I consider myself a geek by day, artist by night. The right brain/left brain test shows that I’m right in the center of those two sides, which I think helps me a lot.

Define ‘success’ for us……..what does it mean to you?
For me success means balance in all areas of your life. I have found my soul mate in my husband, I love my work as a software engineer, and I love being creative with metal and glass. My goal is to have a third career with my art.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
I’d love to be living in Sante Fe, teaching classes, being published in books/magazines and selling lots of my work of course!

Anything else you’d like to share?
I think it’s important to focus on the positive. Manage your expectations of yourself and celebrate what you have accomplished instead of focusing on what you haven’t done yet. My motto that I post at the end of my art blogs is “Aspire to be more as an artist and a person”. I hope that resonates with everyone.

You can see more of Kathleen’s work here:

 Posted by at 12:31 pm
Mar 242010
john cogswell stone settingWhen I saw that Creative Metalworks was offering a workshop with John Cogswell, I JUMPED at the chance to sign up!

John is the author of Creative Stonesetting and currently teaches at SUNY NY. In addition he has taught at numerous other metals programs, has  served as a technical consultant and contributing author for several contemporary jewelry texts including Metals Technic, Contemporary Silver and The Penland Book of Jewelry, and was the 2006 inductee into the National Metalsmiths’ Hall of Fame. He was also selected as Touchstone Center for Crafts’ 2007 Artist of the Year.

WOW! Right?

In addition, it turns out he is a thoughtful and fun teacher who has the ability to empower his students to own their work and the design process. He may suggest but with a quiet ease he places the decision making in the student’s hand and encourages individuality.

I have to be honest and say up front that I had reservations about taking the workshop.  When I signed up, the information about the workshop was minimal. When I went back later and looked for the materials list, I discovered that the description of the class had been updated.

Workshop Description: ‘Cut-Card Prong Settings’

First there was “Uh-oh.”

Then an “Oh-nooo…”

Not that there is ANYthing wrong with the cut-card setting.

Not at all.

The problem lies solely with me.  I despise fiddly precise work.

Its just so…...precise.

Measurements that have to be made which means things have to be, well, measured.


And marked.


However, I forged ahead.

And I am so glad that I did.

I approached the class somewhat hesitantly. . . picturing two days of tedium.

I can assure you that it was NOT.

It was actually ‘freeing’ in some way. I think I experienced a shift somewhere inside – rather than becoming ‘boxed in’ or feeling confined – I found to freeing.

Cogswell is a really interesting guy and he likes to talk.  I do believe he could talk all day if there was someone nearby to listen. And this, much to the benefit of his students, for there is much to digest and use in what he says.

One thing John said, that really stuck with me, is the idea of finishing all surfaces. And not just finishing them from the perspective of  – it should look good front, back and sides.  But more as in – designing all surfaces. To paraphrase him:

“don’t just slap a pinback on it – duct tape will hold it to the body just the same”

meaning, think about the design. In all things – DESIGN.

When a piece of work is viewed – as it is turned – as every side, angle, aspect is observed – does it make you think (know)  that the maker intended (designed) every part to look like that. Was there thought put into it?

John, is all about the making, design, originality.  Considering all angles and creating from within. Not using a prefab setting, or a ubiquitous tube setting, a plain bezel….not blending in.  Using head, heart, hands and creating that which doesn’t yet exist.

I ended up creating two settings (almost) and I actually enjoyed the process. I came away newly inspired and with a fresh outlook on creating.  I also found some great phrases such as ‘a reasonable expectation of wear’.

In all things, John is a teacher.  Whatever he is doing at the time, he is talking and if he’s talking, he’s teaching.

If you ever have opportunity, don’t walk – RUN (or JUMP) to take a class with him.

Some photos from the workshop

John Cogswell stone setting - ring

John Cogswell impressive stone setting blackboard notes

John Cogswell stone setting samples

More of John’s samples. You can see many of these in the cover of his book but as lovely as that is, they look SO much better in person !

 Posted by at 4:10 pm
Mar 192010

I can often be heard saying that metalsmiths are great people. I say that because its TRUE!

Most of the metalsmiths that I know are very generous, warm, and caring people.

Don’t believe me? Then you need to check out Gabriel Craig.

Gabriel had done a series of ‘performance’ jeweler videos. As he put it:
“I proceeded to make, giveaway, and talk about jewelry. In this guerilla jewelry performance I fielded and posed questions to my audience and engaged them in my studio practice….|snip|…by making in public I was attempting to return studio jewelry to a state of vernacular understanding”

In my opinion, Gabriel gave something to the public, but also to us, his fellow makers. He is doing part of the job of educating the public. Something the handmade crowd talks alot about. Gabriel is ENGAGING in a unique, fun, and profound way.

Take a look – “Pro-Bono Jeweler” — part I

 Posted by at 5:46 pm

New Jewelry Tutorials!

 Techniques  Comments Off on New Jewelry Tutorials!
Mar 192010

We’ve just updated the Learning Center with new Wire Jewelry Tutorials and Metal Jewelry tutorials!

There are metalsmithing tutorials that cover techniques such as cold forging, fusing, soldering, fold forming, and more!

The wire jewelry tutorials include wrapping and weaving and coiling projects.

You can always find the tutorials by using the drop down above under the Learning Center tab.

Can’t wait?

Then go there now!