The Life of A Jewelry Artist

Hi Everyone–

Here in the Rocky Mountains, the aspen are turning bright gold and some are burgundy.  They are truly magnificent against the turquoise Colorado sky.  But the true mark of autumn is the Denver Gem and Mineral show, which just finished last Sunday.  Though in reality I needed nothing, I cannot help going to see what Mark Lasater at The Clam Shell, Gary B. Wilson, Greg King-Falk Burger (the duo humorously known as “Burger-King”), Michael Hendrix and many more  have in stock.  They had less in stock after my friend, student and sister, Kathleen Krucoff, my students and I left.  And remarkably, we do not fight over stones.  We all have such different taste in our jewelry and colors that there is always plenty for all of us. Well, truthfully, Kathleen and I do tussle a bit over red jasper, Chinese Writing Stone, and petrified palm wood, but if you follow her blog, you know she is a purple lover, so she buys a lot more purples, while I go for the “earth tones”. (I’m such a child of the 70’s).  As I predicted on my Tucson blog, Mark Lasater had some gorgeous Red Creek Jasper.   Funny thing about names, it’s now called Cherry Creek Jasper, Cherry Creek Valley Jasper and just plain old Red Creek jasper.  That’s the name the owner of the mine calls it, so I’m sticking with that until further notice.  But there was a lot of it at the Denver show.

Fall is also the time for the Castle Rock Art Festival.  The gem show starts the Tuesday after the Castle Rock weekend, so I’m pretty exhausted.  The Castle Rock show was pretty good for me this year, though not even comparable to “The Glory Days” of the 1980-90’s art festivals.   But I had a great time and I always love meeting the other artists.  This year I traded some work with my newest friends,  fabulous wildlife watercolorist Stephen Koury from Lakeland, FL  and metal artist Pamella Goff from Brighton, CO.  Pamella makes diverse art from old spoons, and her pieces are totally delightful.  Her spoon flower hangs in my kitchen.  It reminds me of a delightful and spiritual sister.   Stephen does these unbelievably realistic nature paintings, and my painting features a Harris Hawk and my favorite petroglyph, the “Moab Man”. It is being framed now, and I can’t wait to hang it in my entry hall.  Both of these artists are so outgoing and wonderfully talented that it makes it the whole show experience pretty wonderful.  Plus, the Castle Rock Festival is one of the best run I’ve ever participated in.  They take such good care of their artists.  Kathleen and I have decided that it’s easier to do some shows together so we are  looking forward to doing more shows next year.

Photo of me (on the right) with Kathleen (on the left) at the Castle Rock Festival this year.

A few blogs back I expressed my feelings about galleries and shows, and thought something has to be done about the way we get our work out there, and yet allow us to do more than “break even” on an event.  After some thought, I realized that what we need is a group of sincere artists who come together and present their work at a well-known, but non-gallery,  location and perhaps start a tradition.

Well, I’m very lucky to be on the Board of Colorado Metalsmithing Association (CoMA), so I took my idea to the Board, and they were receptive to trying something totally new.  Previously, CoMA has only shown at galleries.  Now we will have 28 artists, famous, notables, and emerging, those who answered our Call for Artists, and we will be showing and selling our work at the beautiful Denver Botanic Gardens on Oct 16 and 17.

What is so amazing about this venue is that it is timed to take place along with the showing of Henry Moore’s monumental sculptures.   It was Henry Moore who commented “The most powerful artworks are the largest and the smallest”.  I was thrilled to find that quote, and we put it on our postcards.

I would like to thank Kathleen Krucoff of Krucoff Studios for the design of both our poster and postcards.  Everyone has commented on how stunning and professional they are, and it makes them proud to be a part of the show.

Jewelry at the Gardens ~ Post Card


28 Artists at the Botanic Gardens ~ The Poster

So what I’m saying, along with please come see us at the show and sale,  is that we, as artists, are creative people. If you are unhappy with shows and galleries, please take this idea and run with it.  It’s nothing new, but it is a first for a great group of metalsmiths in Colorado.

Look for willing locations in your area.  Look for people who will help sponsor a show, and put one together.  Is it a lot of work?  Yes, tremendously so. Maybe a later blog will be a step -by-step of how to do this, but I’ve put together many shows in Texas and PA.  All it takes is a spark, and you can ignite a whole group of people’s creative processes.  Helping others get “out there”, in turn energizes me, and  I feel a lot more creative.  I hope you will come to see us.  I can promise you it will be worth your time to see what these artisans have created and maybe you will find that right item and become a collector!

Show dates / times / location: October 16 ad 17,  from 9 AM -5 PM, Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, Denver Co, 80206.

I’m off to create  something for this “New Tradition”– I look forward to meeting you at this new event, “Jewelry at the Gardens”.  Please mention you read about it in my blog as I would love to know.  Thanks.

Lexi

THE New Tucson Stone

Hi Everyone,

As I promised, I will share  what we think will be the hot new stone from Tucson this year.  I have heard that it’s the turquoise shot with bronze, which, while pretty,  I believe, (and I’m not positive about this since we have only talked to two people about it) but we think it is a reconstituted block of turquoise, with bronze shot into it.  I did not see any cut into stones, but did see lots blocks of it ready for cutting. Helen and I discovered this stone at The Clam Shell. (Sorry for the bad photo)  This was the stone which made Helen buy me that first margarita.  This was our first purchase and it had to be pretty spectacular to make Helen lose that bet!   It’s brand new and comes from China. It’s called Red Creek jasper, and the colors are breathtaking. It’s yellow, with green, orange and red, or some just have subtle tones of red and green. There is hematite infused through the pieces in straight lines, which gives the stone a bit of elegant sparkle without being overpowering.     Here I have paired it with my old favorites of a round petrified palm wood and an oblong red jasper from Gary B. Wilson.  It’s a work in progress, so the design may change, but I really do like this combination.  Since people like jewelry with movement, I will either do tube hinges or jump ring to give it some motion.

Look for this stone cut as cabochons at the Denver gem show in mid-September. I think it will greatly appeal to those who love a lot of movement and color in stones.  It’s impossible for your eye to go to just one place in this stone.  It promises to bring new excitement to your designs.  Lovers of Picasso marble and tiffany stone will really like this one.  I don’t know how large the find is, or how much will be out there on the market.  All I know is it is gorgeous, and  there was not a lot of rough in Tucson.  I can give you no specific info about it, except the importers say it’s “not quite a jasper”, whatever that means.

A new cutter for me was Jason Penn, thought I have bought his designs from The ClamShell for several years.  I met Jason in Denver a couple of years ago, and what a nice man.  The ones I bought this year were long marquis cuts, a black onyx and a red jasper (I can’t seem to get away from that stone), and they were sandblasted, with elegant highlighted Oriental-influenced designs of un-sandblasted  area showing through. (There must be a word for this technique though it escapes me at the moment.)  I see some Oriental influence creeping into my my designs, and it must be from my friend, potter Mary Sharp Davis, who we had the privilege of staying with in New Mexico, and who joined us on our adventure.  Also, the day before we left for Tucson, Harold O’Connor brought some of his pieces over that had been on display in Japan.  They are  typical O’Connor’s, exquisite, so delicate and beautifully designed and executed.  A few of these pieces can be seen at Patina Gallery, in Santa Fe, NM.  Helen and I stopped by to view his new additions, and some other fabulous jewelry.  Check them out.  I love the excitement of a new idea, so I was awake most of last night, mind whirring with a new way to go.

I’m still recovering from Tucson.   The experience is both exhilarating and exhausting, but you get to talk to so many knowledgeable people, other jewelers and designers. I got to meet up with my old friend from Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths, and sister Lapidary Journal contributor, (and winner of one of their design awards) Maxine Rosenthal. We sat in a vendor’s RV and bought ammonite casts, laughed a lot and drank lot of water.   It will take me a while to process all this.  My stash of rocks on the dining room table needs to be categorized, which leads me to this subject.

How do you categorize your stones?  I have the glass topped Riker cases, and find those work better than the little trays with divisions, since my stones are all different shapes.  Some of my friends separate by shape or color or type of stone.  Now this sounds crazy, but I separate by vendor. That way, if I need another stone from a cutter to match a shape or finish of what I already have, I automatically know who I got it from.  Now to some people that will make no sense.  As an archaeologist, I learned to categorize  pottery shards by maker/Pueblo, so I guess that’s why I do it this way.  Sure, when making a multi-stonepiece I have to get out all my stones and look at them.  Oh darn!  It only inspires me more.

So let me know what you think of our pick for the hot new stone.  As soon as I find out who has it, I will let you know, but I do think  Mark Lasater will have cabs of it at the Holiday Inn show in Denver in Sept.

Off to categorize all my loot. More later…

Cheers,

Lexi

What a Week!

Whew!  This past week has been such a whirlwind of activity.  Though I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of  this time of year, it’s good now to sit back and relax for a few weeks before beginning another big adventure.

First, last week-end was the Castle Rock Artfest, in the neighboring town of Castle Rock, CO.  I had visited this show for many years, and the quality of the work was amazing. There are 175+ excellent artists in the show.   I always found many things that inspired me, and always made at least one large purchase.  This year I decided to apply.  I made it.  I was thrilled.

Saturday was a good day, and I made several large sales. Kathleen and Dan Krucoff came to visit and offer best wishes, and I saw several other friends and former students.  But about 3:30 the sky opened up and it poured, the wind started, and the temperature dropped to about 47 degrees. We all closed up at 5:00.  I came home and filled the bath with the hottest water available, and while my body thawed, I contemplated if I would ever do another show.

Sunday dawned beautifully.  Another day in Paradise.  About 10:30 the entourage of judges walked down my aisle, and stopped and told me they were glad I had participated in the show.  As I was responding what an honor it was to be in the show, one of the judges pulled out a “Best of Fine Crafts” ribbon, presented it to me,  and proceeded to say the nicest things to me.  Everyone applauded.    I WAS IN SHOCK! Then she handed me a check, too.  I was speechless.  I’m not often speechless.   This is the first big show I’ve done in over 10 years. You would have been so proud of me when the radio station interviewed me and I couldn’t remember where I live!  Am I suave and sophisticated or what?  But I cannot  express what a thrill it is to hang a ribbon like that over your work.  My things are very different, totally one of a kind, and all hand done.  My inspirations, as you have read on my website, are my adventures and travels during my years in archaeology. My pieces are not beautifully carved stones with diamonds, gold and platinum. (In fact, at the Philadelphia Buyer’s Market of American Craft, what we call “The Rosen Show”, one lady actually looked at my stuff and said “Yuck!”)  There were many wonderful jewelers at Castle Rock.   Not only this, the glass, wood, and ceramics  artists had fabulous pieces, both in design and craftsmanship.  There were so many outstanding artists, and I congratulate each of them, also.  Their work is inspiring and beautiful.   I am deeply, deeply honored the judges chose my work.  I thank you each from the bottom of my heart. What a feeling!!!  I’m already scoping out shows for next year.

So I guess what I say to you all is “Go For It”!!!  You don’t know what the judges will be looking for.  Work from the heart, do what you love. And most of all, don’t compare your work to anyone else’s.  As Julia Cameron says in “The Artist’s Way”, “Leap and a net will appear”.

The next day, Monday started the Denver Gem and Mineral show. WOW!  Sensory overload. This show takes up 2 hotels lobbies and ballrooms (plus 3 stories of show rooms on each floor),  circus tents in the surrounding parking lots, the enormous Merchandise Mart and Annex, the Denver Western Stock Show Complex, and another hotel out at the airport. I try to do some pre-show appointments because its easier to buy on a one-on-one basis than on the showroom floor. I bought almost exclusively from the 4 cutters I previously mentioned. This year I added Greg King, from Taos , NM to my list of cutters.  I bought from him years ago, and still buy from him when I go to Taos Gem and Mineral. He had gorgeous ocean jasper and dino bone.

After so many years of walking this show, I know just about where everything is, and it takes days to see all of it.  I walked the entire show this year, partly to see if anything was new.  Also, if my students asked where anything was, I could point them in the right direction.  Believe me, when all my friends and students arrive, and we go to the show together, it’s like herding cats. For us, it’s a huge social event…running into friends we haven’t seen for a year, standing the aisles, our arms around each other, sharing what we’ve bought, ohhhing and ahhhing, moving on 3 feet away and seeing another group of friends, sharing,…you get the picture.

Mark and Christa Lasater  (The Clamshell) had the most fantastic chrysacolla I’ve ever seen.  Ka-ching. And gorgous amethyst sage. Ka-ching. Of course Gary B.Wilson had some neat new jaspers.  As I’ve never met a  jasper I didn’t like, I bought several.  (Several????) He has a Cobra Jasper that is orange and yellow…fabulous. More Ka-ching. These two cutters are real artists in stone, they never fail to amaze me.  Their stuff really melts my solder!

There was a lot of shiny stuff from Asia, pre-made jewelry, African beads,  rare trilobites with all these tendrils in matrix, ammonites, mammoth tusks, gold nuggets, emeralds, cool tools, and many things I cannot afford.  Something for everyone. Lots of vendors had some fabulous new dark red beads, that when the light shines on them, they look like red velvet,  Fabulous. Ka-Ching. The fun was hanging with my friends and students, the Lapidary Journal staff and writers, and Colorado Metalsmithing Assoc. friends, both during the show and after.  My friends and I got to bed each night between 2 and 3 AM, and the alarm went off at 6 to start again.  Thank goodness the week is over!

Please consider joining us next year, or if you can do it earlier, try for March, 2010,  for Beadfest in Santa Fe. I’ll be there, just in case I have left one stone unturned!

I’m off to take a nap.

Lexi