Mar 222012

I have the great pleasure of introducing you all to Sally Sutherland – Metalsmith and Lampwork Artist. I am  a true fan, owning several of her lampwork pieces.

Tell us a bit about yourself……(where you are from, was art part of your upbringing)

I was raised in on the Norfolk coast (Norfolk in the UK) I grew up in a 16th century thatched cottage that had originally been two workmans cottages, it was my mothers house, her pride and joy.

I had a pretty idyllic childhood, no cares or worries, my Dad was a self employed builder and carpenter and my Mum was a potter amongst other things, she is great with a sewing machine and has made beautiful quilts for me and my kids Both my parents were very creative in very different ways, one of my most treasured possessions is a wooden stool that my Dad made, he made lots one Christmas when they couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents for all of the children of their friends and family.  To me that is a constant reminder that the best gifts are the ones that you make, that have care and consideration in them and that stand the test of time.

I suppose art/craft has been a fairly consistent part of my life from quite and early age, in terms of direction mine was not encouraged to be a particularly artistic one, at the time I was making those kinds of decisions my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and died 11 months later. In hindsight it was easier to go along with what was expected and I had no real idea of what I wanted out of life.

After we lost Dad I went abroad as a Nanny, I worked for a family in Spain and then moved to Belgium.

On a visit home I was met at the airport by my brother and his friend ( the man I am now married to ( I am not entirely sure he knew what he was letting himself in for, I was a bit wild))

Where are you located now?

Now I live on the west coast of Scotland, not far from Glasgow, I love where we live, although its modern housing it really is in a brilliant location, twenty minutes in either direction you are in the city centre or the middle of nowhere, the scenery in either is incredible.

The only thing I miss is being near the beach, we do go to Norfolk every summer and spend a couple of weeks messing about on the beach, taking the kids gillying (an old fashioned method of catching crab using string and bacon) It never fails to restore a sense of balance and peace in me.

Describe your studio/creative space….

My husband and I rebuilt my workshop last year, previously I had been working in a damp and holey garden shed, now I have a lovely double glazed space that serves for both my jewellery making and my lampworking, its much warmer and dryer which really is essential in Scotland in the winter.

What do you love most about your space?

I love the fact that its mine, my work has paid for it.

I love the light, the old shed was pretty dark and gloomy with only one small window this space has four large windows that I could actually open if I wanted to  🙂

(I own this cutie!)

What would you change if you could?

There isn’t much I would change at the moment, however I know the rate at which I accumulate new tools and I dare say that at some point space will be an issue, but I am sure with some careful planning we can arrange it in a more effective way.

Also longer days would be a blessing.

What are your favorite materials/techniques?

At the moment I am very into foldforming, I finally bit the bullet last week and made my first pieces, I am waiting for the book to arrive so that I can really get stuck into it.

With my lampworking I always feel like I am at the tip of the iceburg in terms of technique, there are so many that I have not even tried yet.

How have you learned your craft?

I started taking an evening class in silversmithing when I was made redundant; however I also fell pregnant with my daughter around the same time and the smell in the workshop made me feel very ill, mostly I have taught my self from books, forums and the internet.

With the lampworking I was incredibly fortunate to be given some lessons by the amazing Amanda Magregor of Moogin, I had admired her beads and she invited me to come and ‘have a go’ needless to say four hours later (they passed in a flash) I was hooked and quickly bought a basic set up. Since the I have spent a lot of time experimenting to find out what works for me.

What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting out?

Don’t forget the power of the internet, most things can be found with a carefully worded google search. Forums are an  incredible source of information but ALWAYS give credit for where you have learnt something and ALWAYS make it your own. Never be scared to try something for the first time, if it goes wrong then you have already learnt something.

Who are some of your favourite artists/crafters?

Oh that’s tricky, there are so many talented people out there, I honestly couldn’t say that I have a particular favourite, there are so many that I have not even discovered yet. For me if there is an element of humour in something I usually fall in love with it.

What would we be surprised to find out about you?

It depends what you are surprised by 😀
If you couldn’t do what you are doing now — what would you do?

I can’t even consider that question, its too awful to contemplate, I cannot sit with idle hands, its unbearable, crafting is a compulsion, if it’s not jewellery or lampwork then I am making journals or felting, I really could not consider not having crafting in my life.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Laugh – A lot it really is the best medicine.

You can see more of Sally’s work here:

May 202010

Up close and personal with Lisa Weber of Silver Vine Jewelry

Tell us a bit about yourself – where you grew up, your childhood dreams..was art a part of that?
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, in a family that was not at all artistic. Art was just a fun thing for kids to do, like stringing macaroni necklaces and drawing for fun. I always made things for presents, took art classes at school, and I was also very mechanically oriented. I loved tools, but no one in my family really used them. My aunt did, though, and I think it was in part the example she set as an intelligent educated, independent woman who fixed cars, built walls, put herself through college, and supported herself that let me know I could do whatever I wanted. In addition to the creative aspect of jewelry making, I think the tools are a big part of what drew me in!

Where are you located now?
I live with my husband, 3 kids, and 2 cats in the Poconos in PA. it’s just beautiful here, I have never regretted the move.

Describe your studio/creative space
I work in a studio in my basement. It used to be a wood shop (I used to do that, too!), but a few years into jewelry work, I got tired of my bench on the front porch. It was so beautiful outside, but the weather made it impossible to work out there from November to May! I moved the wood out of the way, built a new workbench, and my studio was born. It’s a very cramped, one-person space, so I dream of an upgrade in the future.

What are your favorite materials?
I work in sterling silver with a variety of gemstones. The silver is really what captures me though, I love working with the metal.

Has the internet affected your work/business? If yes, how so?
Absolutely, I use it for every aspect of my business, from researching how to accomplish certain techniques, to finding laces to teach and to learn. I sell my jewelry through the internet, buy booth displays, and meet jewelry friends to share with. And of course, the best is Janice, and the Jewelry Artists Network!!

What are your thoughts on:

“inspiration, imitation, infringement – when similarities in work go too far”
I think we have to define “too far”. There is really nothing new in jewelry. I use ideas from other people’s work all the time. Sometimes, I have gone so far as to copy something that I want to try out, but I would never mass produce that design and sell it as my own, That is what I would define as “too far”. We all mimic one another to some extent, trying on styles and techniques, and then moving beyond them. I think we need to expect that, but not abuse it.

How did you start teaching jewelry/metalsmithing?
I used to teach high school, so teaching is comfortable for me. I looked everywhere in my area for metals classes to take, but there were none. I saw that as a niche that I could fill, so I approached several bead shops and proposed some classes. I was really lucky that the shop nearly around the corner from me was interested, and I have been teaching there since January 2009.

Where do you teach and what are you presently teaching
Right now, I teach metal work at the Garden of Beadin, in Bartonsville, PA. My classes are project oriented, and range from basic metal work with no heat, through annealing, fusing, and soldering. I hope to be starting soon at a new shop as well.

What is the best part about teaching jewelry/metalsmithing?
So many things! I love interacting with the students. I love introducing beading students to metal work. I love that moment during soldering when understanding strikes, and the “aha!” happens. I love it when students new to metal work tell me they have set up their workbenches and adapted my designs to become their own. Of course in this economy, I love the extra income, but even more, I am pleased to be generating income through jewelry.

What is the most challenging part of teaching jewelry/metalsmithing?
Since my store doesn’t have a stocked metals studio, it’s a challenge to be sure I have everything I need. Trying to teach soldering when
I brought everything except flux was a real challenge! (It didn’t work, of course. I had to call home for flux.) The unexpected is always the most challenging. Recently, I had all beginners at one intermediate soldering class, they didn’t even have tools, while the next week, I had my most advanced students in my beginner’s class! You have to roll with the unexpected. If everyone comes out with a piece, it was a success.

How did you get into jewelry making?
I have always made things. In college, a friend showed me how to do macramé, and I still have some of the macramé jewelry I made back then. About 10 years ago, I bought a beautiful triple-strand amethyst bracelet at a craft festival. I was really fascinated with it; I loved that the beads were real stones (I had a geology degree by then), and I wanted to learn to make jewelry just as wonderful. My friend gave me a catalog from Fire Mountain Gems, I picked up some books from the library and the book store, and that was how I began making. Bead strands were cheaper 20 at a time, and that was how I started selling. I began to hammer out simple links, learned to anneal silver, and I was hooked. That’s how I started metal working.

If you could go back to the beginning and do one thing differently, what would it be?
I wish I could go back and eliminate procrastination. I often hesitate about taking new directions, trying new things. I can’t imagine what more I would be doing now if I had gone with my impulses instead of wondering “what if?”

How would you describe your style?
My work is usually very organic and nature oriented, full of trees, vines, and leaves.

How do you deal with periods of “creative block” or low creativity?
When you don’t know what to do, do something. If I can just make something, anything, I’ll often get ideas as I go, and that helps get the creative juices flowing again. I might just polish some tools, or make jump rings, or make some stock pieces, any work might help break my stalemate. And I look through my sketch books, or browse through websites of many talented jewelry artists to remind myself of what I love.

What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting out?
Learn as much as you can about what you like to do. There are so
many great craftsmen happy to share what they know. Find some and enjoy the ride!

Who are some of your favorite artists and crafters?
I love Betty Helen Longhi’s elegantly curved forms, John Cogswell’s beautiful forged (and other) work, Michael Boyd’s amazing stone work and use of color, Michael David Sturlin’s clean perfection.

What would we be surprised to find out about you?
I’m a vegetarian for 25 years, like to live in the woods, and sometimes pick wild plants for my own herbal tinctures. I’m sort of the family doctor.

Define ‘success’ for us……..what does it mean to you?
When strangers compliment my jewelry, not knowing that I made it, that is one kind of success. The first time a customer entered my booth at a show, saying “I have been looking for you everywhere! I bought your bracelet last year…” (fishing for it in her bag… uh oh – it broke… offer to fix it for free…) “Do you have some earrings to match?” Whew! Success! When I get great feedback and repeat purchases from my customers, I know they like my work and consider it good quality, and they measure my success for me.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
I would love to be earning a living from my jewelry in 10 years. I don’t know if I’m brave enough or skilled enough to make it happen, but it’s a goal.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Can I have some of Christy’s tootsie rolls? She’s good at sharing.

A sampling of Lisa’s work:

You can contact Lisa or view more of her work on her website or Etsy store.

Leave Lisa a comment below!

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:
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 Posted by at 1:20 pm
Apr 122010

Today we feature a wonderful wire worker or wire weaver or ummm maybe a wire wizard?

Jill, of Twisted Sister Arts, transforms wire into fantastical designs that are elegant, inspiring, and sometimes, well, a little creepy. No matter which direction her muse takes her, the designs are ALWAYS interesting with so much movement that my eye never gets tired of looking.


Where are you located?

In my office. Actually in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, Naperville, Illinois

Describe your studio space.

It’s the larger of two extra bedrooms in the condo I live in. I’m blessed with the space, and I use the room entirely for me. Selfish, yes, mine, yes. I love it there. I’ve got all the mess I want, with a large two level glass and wood desk/workbench. I’ve got a paper file cabinet with a antique typesetters chest on top with a thousand little compartments to put all my little beads, stones and supplies in. There are 12 drawers with compartments, it’s a fabulous find. I have my photography area set up on one wall, and my favorite chair and ottoman to snuggle in. Sometimes my husband, to see me, will come sit there.

How did I get into jewelry?

Long story made short… I was selling hand dyed scarves and I needed scarf rings. I used aluminum wire, and copper core wire to start with, then switched to finer and finer wire, until I settled for 2 years with parawire. A year ago, a customer came into my store and bought 24 pieces, which gave me a foundation to believe in myself and the finances to buy sterling silver and the tools that I needed. She came back this week and bought another 12 pieces.

If I could go back to the beginning and do one thing differently, what it would be.

Disobey my parents. I love working with my hands, I love creating. I was told that I couldn’t make a living at it, that my art was not worthy of my attention. (Ha Ha, so there!)

How would I describe my style?

One word…organic. Furthermore, steampunk, art neuveau, twisted, rosettian, roccoco. The busier, the better. It’s very hard for me to keep it simple.

How do you deal with periods of creative “block”?

What’s that? I don’t have period of creative block. I have an over abundance of ideas, so I write them in an “idea book” that I keep in my purse so that I can jot them down.

What’s the best piece of advice I’ve received relating to my business.

Set goals. The reason I say that, there was a time in my life I wanted to (do) great things, but had no idea how to get there. If you set goals, no matter how small, you’ll get there a whole lot faster than if you don’t.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give to someone just starting out?

Set goals, see above. Break it down into a daily routine that you can manage. Baby Steps.

Who are your favorite artists and crafters?

Not restricted to wire…or jewelry…Pink Martini. I listen to them while I work.

Jewelry…Mary Lee Hu. Linda Chandler.

How do I deal with the business side of my art?

I have a dear husband that has taken that responsibility from my shoulders. He also takes care of the house, and fixes dinner nightly. There was a time in my youth, when I had a top 500 floral shop chain, that my late husband and I worked together and I did my share of numbers and taxes. It’s much nicer on this side of the fence.

What do I do when I’m not working on jewelry?

My day job is a green and blooming plant buyer for a top 10 floral shop chain. I import plants from Canada, local growers and Florida for 8 retail locations. I love doing it, but the hours are long and the holidays are murder.

What would you be surprised to find out about me?

I like ABBA. Whoohooo!

Define “success” for us….what does that mean to you?

Success to me is the freedom to create what I want, when I want, to please myself creatively, without worry of selling it for money, or to sell my soul.

Where would I like to see myself in 10 years?

See above…I really wish to quit my day job, and be able to support myself and my household with health insurance and an IRA

Anything else I’d like to share?
I’d like to be able to help women if they are in abusive situations, to get out, to grow, to support themselves with truth and beauty. I’ve seen too much hurt and anger in the world to let it continue.
Just a sampling of Jill’s wonderful wirework!
See more of Jill’s work in her Etsy shop:


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See previous SPOTLIGHT! interviews: SPOTLIGHT! archive

Apr 062010


Today we have the best of two worlds – jewelry and rocks!

I found Barney when I was still new to Etsy and was just browsing around.

I came across his jewelry first and was immediately smitten. Later I discovered there were “rock sellers” on Etsy and I eventually wandered into his other shop – although I didn’t know at the time that the two were connected I fell in love with his lapidary work as well.

Both shops offer some of the best on Etsy so be sure to visit them! (links at bottom)

Read on!


Where are you located?
On the far left coast, Eugene, Oregon

Describe your studio/creative space:
Well, I have two spaces, My jewelry studio is a reworked bedroom, is quite homey and friendly, has two benches and being the tool collector I am fairly packed with a wide array of widgets and gadgets. My lapidary shop is attached to my converted garage that is also my machine shop. Its pretty packed with whatever rough stone wont fit in my garden shed and yard!

Which came first for you – lapidary or jewelry art?
I started collecting polished stones at the age of 6, so I suppose that was first.
I made a few pieces of jewelry prior to high school, but it was there that I got the first class on it. Oddly enough, it was my frustration with the way the class was run that spurred me on after school to pursue things I didnt get there.
Actual lapidary work I only brushed on here and there throughout my life. I never really had money or space for it. Though I always knew someday I would and thus always have collected rough.

Which do you spend more time on? And do you try to strike a balance or do you work as the inspiration strikes?
Great question! Ultimately, jewelry. But right now my time is a bit limited so I am kind of going with what is more popular sales wise, and that is my stonework.

My Jewelry tends to center on one of a kind, specifically inspired art pieces. And those dont move as much as commercially repeatable designs would.
My jewelry bench is a bit dusty right now, but its also covered in quite a few sketches. And I also get really amped from time to time to work on something that has really moved me on its concept– somethings just cant wait!

How did you learn your art?
Oddly enough, I am largely self taught. As I said the high school class just irritated me to no end. I knew there had to be more to it, and more satisfaction in doing adornment work. I started making a piece here and there for friends and what not, slowly gathering tools and materials. A few years out of School, I met some folks that ran an actual brick and mortar jewelry store. A father and son team.

I would hang out there after work and absorb from watching them.
Getting a taste of the real world of jewelry from two masters of the craft gave me a lot of incentive to create.

It was a great springboard to me, yet it was a very informal, mostly social interaction. I dont think they knew I was taking in as much as I was. Nor how important at the time they were to me.

If you could go back to the beginning and do one thing differently, what would it be?
Well that same Father Son team offered me an apprenticeship after seeing some of my work. But I worked in a large steel foundry at the time, had a fair amount of debt, and just didnt think I could handle it financially. And probably a fair amount of self esteem issues helped me to say no as well.
I would take that job in an instant if I was to repeat it all.

While I would have spent a lot of hours doing commercial work I didnt care for, I would be hundreds of times more productive today.

And thus many more of my thousands of sketches would be metal and stone.

How would you describe your style/work?
All over the map. Ha ha. I have been told by more than one gallery, that my lack of discernible style holds me back. Oh well. Then again, I have folks that have told me they could tell a Joyful Crow piece a mile away. Go figure!!

What makes your work unique?
As a continuation of the last question. I dont want a style. My work reflects the moods and emotions of life. The inspirations that come our way are rarely felt inside the same way twice.

Do you feel 15 anymore? Well not in the same way. We just chase that feelings memories. My work captures bits and pieces of those fleeting moments.

And yes they will all be different. I think that is a unique perspective to create jewelry from.

What are your favorite materials?
I like the precious metals, obviously. Silver, High karat Golds, Platinum, Palladium. But many other materials have their place as well, Copper, Brass, Mokume gane’.

It isnt the preciousness of the materials as much it is their properties.
In stones, I like the mineral gems in cabochon form quite a bit more than faceted colored stones. Though I do appreciate those as well, I just feel the mineral stones have such individual character.

Has the internet affected your work/business? If yes, how so?
Oh, very much so. Especially etsy. I tried tinkering with creating a website on my own, but it was just too involved for me to make any serious sort of entry. Etsy enabled me to put my work in front of so many more people that appreciate the handmade independent approach to adornment.
And its enabled my stonework to get in front of a much larger audience of stone using jewelers. While it isnt perfect Etsy is a very good augment to the limited amount of shows I am able to wrestle out of my schedule, and augments my web exposure very well.

How do you deal with periods of “creative block” or low creativity?
I leave it all sit for awhile. Do something that reconnects with the passion of the Earth itself. Nothing inspires or makes me balanced as being out in nature.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received related to your

Two little printed cards over the bench of a Mentor. “Crank it out, no prima donnas in this shop” and “No Bullshit Jewelry”
And the advice of one of the same Mentors to go into goldwork. He said folks wouldnt pay me for my silver work despite the dozens of hours I spent on a piece unless I had a name. But they would if it was gold. He was absolutely right. Only if it was to understand the need to sell some of the work to be able to afford to create more.

What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting out?
Maintain an attachment to your inspiration. Dont be afraid of mistakes. Learn as much as you can. Acquire tools and materials as you can afford to.
Sketch A LOT.

What are your thoughts on:

“inspiration, imitation, infringement – when similarities in work go too far”

While its somewhat true, there isnt anything new under the sun, I wouldnt spend a bunch of time looking at others work. Especially commercial work.
Look at work that is beyond your limits by light years. Study Etruscan and ancient works. Then look at your fancy tools and sigh.
Stay humble in the approach and you wont catch yourself copying.

Who are some of your favorite artists and crafters?
Well, I dont approach this from a commercial vantage. At this point in my life it isnt (jewelry) for income, so I tend to look at work beyond the realm of who created it and just that it IS created. I let the work stand alone in that, and see things as art pieces. I do have one absolute hero though.

And that would be John Paul Miller.

How do you deal with the business side of your art?
HA ha, Not nearly as well as I could! But I am getting better. And in that manner, Etsy has also helped a great deal. The business end of things would be better handled by someone else. Its a time vacuum.

What do you do when you aren’t working on jewelry ?
For my day job, I am a partner in a Soy Foods manufacturing business. We make Organic Tofu and Tempeh. Its rewarding being able to bring good Organic food to the community and to be able to provide employment for folks.

What would we be surprised to find out about you?
That despite not owning a TV, I have seen just about every Simpsons episode. More than once.

Define ‘success’ for us……..what does it mean to you?
Being able to do what you love for a living. And to remain passionate despite obstacles to that passion in the things you do.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
I would love to be able to retire and spend a good solid twelve hours a day making my artwork and my stonework. While I love my job in the natural food business, it takes a lot to do it all, and I have more desire at this point in my life to work full time in metal and stone.
We shall see……..

Anything else you’d like to share?

Every 4.2 days there are another million people on earth.


Barney and some of his wonderful works of art

You can see more of Barney’s work here:



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