Category Archives: Events

Our First Denver Botanic Show

OH WOW!  I can’t even begin to explain how I feel right now.  First, to have the gorgeous Denver Botanic Gardens as a venue for us was astounding, especially when we are showing alongside of  a fabulous presentation of Henry Moore sculptures.  Second, it was two of those Colorado fall days—not a cloud in the turquoise sky, and snow clad mountains in the distance, while Denver was a balmy 70 degrees.  And then, add  25 spectacular tables filled with glowing and colorful baubles.  OK,  now you have a picture of our First Jewelry Show at the Denver Botanic Gardens.   We were inside Gates Courtyard, with full picture windows and tall glass doors behind us.  It was spectacular.  Just as much fun was looking at the individual diplays of each artist.

Harold O’Connor’s display was elegant and sparse, with trays lined with white Japanese paper, which showed off Harold’s exquisite craftsmanship to a “T”.  His newest collection, “From My Backyard” was composed of artistically cast elegant rings and pendants of twigs, string and unusual pods he found  in his Salida, Colorado yard. Exquisite Spectrolite from Finland accented several of his pieces. It was such an honor to show alongside of one of the True Masters of Metalsmiting in the world.

Kathleen Krucoff had a stunning display of lanterns, which showed off her earrings and pendants.

For my usual art festival display, I dress in my archaeology gear, and have trowels and archaeology tools in my display cabinets. But for this truly upscale show I had a collection of “antique” suitcases, from which spilled my treasures, and I forewent my archaeology khakis.  Since it kind of went along with my adventure and travel themes, I was happy with my display.

For weeks before  the show I had nightmares that here we were all at the Botanic Gardens, all dressed up  and just standing around visiting with each other because no one came in to see our jewelry.  Well, nothing could have been farther from the truth.

We opened at 9 on Saturday morning, and our first customers started arriving at 9:27. By 10:00 we were having a light stream of customers, and by 11, we were constantly busy.  Jennie Milner said that she didn’t expect it to be like a cocktail party.  There was a constant flow of new people.  The wine and music started at 1:00, and there was not a moment to stop after that.  Sales were brisk, and there were lots of questions about our jewelry, the artists, and  Colorado Metalsmithing Association.  We were packed with customers who were actually buying, not just “thinking about it”.  Customers returned to tables several times to make their final choices.  Gallery owners talked to many participants about showing in their galleries, and the jewelry market seems to be returning.  It was a joy to watch everyone.  It was so great to see so many of you COMA members and friends, and I really appreciate each of you for coming out.  And in addition to that, it was great to sell so much jewelry. As artists we felt validated and appreciative that so many of you like our work well enough to purchase and wear it.  We are truly honored.

I have already started plans for next year’s show.  New ideas are flowing, and I want to start drawing in my sketch book right now.  But my precious 4-year old grandson is spending the week with me as his mom and dad return to Austin and pack and move back to Denver.  I am thrilled. They will live nearby, and I don’t have to make that 1100 mile trek down to Texas 4 times a year!  They are just as exited to be returning to Colorado.

So to each of you, I had a vision.  I acted upon it and didn’t let anything stop me.  The Denver Botanic Gardens Show was the result of that dream.  So follow your dream, follow your passions. Were there some nay-sayers? Oh yeah. And one really hurt my feelings.  But I knew in my heart that this would be a hit, and with the talent we have in Colorado, this would be a stunning show.

I want to thank Harold O’Connor for the initial inspiration from something that he said about 3 years ago, and I thank my sister, Kathleen Krucoff, for the poster and postcard designs.  She made us look beautiful before anything ever happened. And to the artists and Board of Colorado Metalsmithing Assoc, thank you in letting me, as a new Board member with a dream of where we could go, have free rein in doing what I visioned.  To each of you, GO FOR IT!   Follow your Passion! And watch this space for updates about our next show.

Passionately Yours,


Beadfest Texas, Woohoo!

I’ve been teaching a long time.  A quarter of a century (!) seems to have passed in no time.  Some classes have been great, some not so great.  But October in Texas is such a glorious time of year that I knew these classes would be special.  The drive in from Denver is always a grueling drive when  I leave at 4 AM, and drive down Hwy 287, through all those Texas towns.  And to make matters worse, this was Texas-OU week-end, plus the opening of the Texas State Fair,  the week-end for the big Cottonwood Art Festival, and the Intergem show, plus a Rangers game.  So no wonder I spent 30 minutes driving around  in the new Cowboy Stadium parking lot, which was packed with overflow cars.  I could see the Sheraton, I just couldn’t drive to it!  But the days of packing, planning, making copies, ordering tools, supplies, etc  were through, and I was so pleased I remembered everything.  I was feeling quite good, thank you very much.  I met my dear friend Jane from Fairplay, who now lives back home in Pauls Valley, OK. She was my “roadie”.  We had some dinner Friday night and got to bed early, I was prepared for a good day of classes, and Jane planned a day of lounging by the pool.

At 4 AM I sat straight up in bed.  OMG!  I had forgotten the strikers for the torches!  Where would I get strikers at 8:30 in the morning for class?  Oh, man!  How could I be such an idiot! So I gnashed my teeth over that for a while, until I got to Beadfest, and I should have known, my sister Texans would come to my rescue. (The phrase, “Don’t Mess With Texas Women” comes to mind.)  Wild Beads has become my favorite bead store in the world!  They had a booth at the vendor section of  Beadfest,.  They must have seen the panic in my eyes, and they asked the owner, Beverly, bring me three strikers. They let me use their workshop strikers. Thank you so much.  You saved me from tool disgrace!

I knew from the moment people started arriving, it would be a good class.  We were in a tiny room, all 20 of us, ready to learn sawing, filing, and soldering.  The seed beaders had huge rooms.   But we made it work.  (They’ve promised me a larger room next year.) I had the joy of re-acquainting myself with Joanie, one of my favorite students from Big D who took my class in Santa Fe.  We later had dinner at Papadeaux’s (yum) and we will meet again for Santa Fe Beadfest on my birthday in March.  This was a great class, they laughed at my jokes and I got to laugh at Bruce and Kathryn’s “matching luggage”–all their tools, like mine, were packed in the same matching green plastic boxes.  What exquisite taste we have.  The day went fine, and I enjoyed teaching people who don’t make fun of my Texas accent–which got a bit broader as the day progressed.

The students made my signature triangle earrings.  Because I use no electricity when making jewelry,  I introduced them to a tool that has been around for centuries, the old bow drill.

The Egyptians built the pyramids using a drill very much like this, and it’s what we use when I’m teaching in South America.  It’s a bit tricky, and the drill bit broke a few times, but those who got the centrifugal force going really enjoyed it. During the afternoon we  got into “The Joy of Soldering”, and everyone made 3 stacking rings and saw how easy my soldering technique is to learn.

I loved getting the hugs as we parted and want to keep in touch with all of you. I want to say a special hello to Janna from Thrall.  Your smile lights up a room!

I was most impressed with Tony, (pictured) who took the class because his wife was taking another class at the same time, but wanted to learn soldering techniques, so mucho kudos to Tony!  You certainly deserve the Golden Torch Award.  And to Kathryn (pictured with Tony) and Bruce, you were so much fun.  And I can’t forget a big “Thank you” to Tom who gave me some great flush cutters.  They are very appreciated.

After dinner with Joanie, Jane and I went to sleep tired, but happy.

Sunday was another great day.  I snuck away during the lunch break to buy some Gary B. Wilson stones from Gary’s daughter Jesse and future son in law, Spencer. I got some great shapes in petrified turtle shell, which I’ll pair with fossil palm and red jasper, and maybe dino doodoo.   In this class I met more wonderful women, especially Jude and Monette, who we later shared Sunday breakfast with. J, you are my inspiration.  And Glory, no one works that Egyptian drill better than you.  Laura, I love being your friend on Facebook!  Thanks for “Friending” me.  And a special thanks to Patty for  dinner at Gloria’s.  What a cool place!

And mostly, Jane, I can’t thank you enough.  I couldn’t have gotten everything moved without your help.  And thanks for making me stop now and then and laugh.  I love you!

Then it was off to Easter Island, (called Isla de Pascua or in the native tongue, Rapa Nui.)  The Navel of the World is indeed a long, long way away.  Though I was hoping to find some nice beads, I did purchase some unique shell  necklaces, the kind worn by the islanders for the last 400  years. I will hang those with my personal beads, those I can’t part with from the 4 corners of the world.  Rapa Nui is amazing, and the moai are haunting.

The Moai at Anakena

On the way back from Chile, it was announced that the drill had broken through to free the Chilean miners.  God bless those brave men and their families.  My husband is a metallurgical engineer, and I understand their plight so well.

Upon landing, its rush-rush now to get ready for the Denver Botanic GardensJewelry Show.  Twenty eight of us will be showing our jewelry.  Our artists, including the  famed Harold O’Connor, are all very talented and every one is totally different.  Please join us this coming Saturday and Sunday at the Denver Botanic Gardens, from 9-5. You will be amazed at the talent in Colorado.

Thank you everyone in Texas for two of the most wonderful classes I’ve ever had, and I will always remember your eagerness and enthusiasm (and matching “luggage”) and keep these memories in my heart. It was good to be back home in Texas for a few days..  Please keep in touch, as each and every one of you is forever my friend. Email me!



Galleries vs. Festivals and Our Future

I’ve been doing a lot of really Deep Thinking.

Galleries vs. Shows is a big question in my mind right now.  Do I REALLY want to be in more galleries?  The galleries do all the work, display my work, maybe advertise it, and they are taking all the risks. They have a lot invested in me and a number of other artists.  For that I get 50%, or in the case of my most recent check, 30% because the buyer bought “more than one piece.”  I was not contacted on this, and I took the entire “hit”.    (RANT ALERT!  It was an out of state gallery.  They no longer represent me, as of 30 minutes after the arrival of my check.   So I didn’t even cover the cost of my supplies in this one.  I guess you win some and you lose some.  After checking my contract, discounts were addressed, “with the permission of the artist”, which they never got my permission on this.   I understand they have all the bills, but it didn’t seem fair, whereas most galleries are very fair.)  There are some galleries who are really feeling the pinch, and just scraping by, and doing what they have to do to keep the doors open for all of us.  I understand and appreciate that.   The economy has played a huge part in the art jewelry market, and I’m sad that my friends with galleries are hurting.  But it seems like the check is never really what I am expecting.  Sure, it’s an ego thing that lasts for a few minutes when I get asked into some well known gallery, but in this case, that feeling didn’t replace the price of my materials.

On the other hand:  I apply to a show,  have photos made, (they aren’t cheap) pay the jury fee, ($25-50.00),  pay the fee to be in the show, ($300-700.00), buy a tent,  (not the $199.00 one that won’t stand up to the Colorado winds, but the EZ Up Express II, the $359.99.00 one with the sides and a roller bag,,  spend $200.00 for  mammoth sized weights to keep my “stuff” from blowing away,  buy display materials  (the shows are getting so uppity that the jewelery booths are looking like some portable mall store and you look like one of the Beverly Hillbillies if you don’t have all the glitz, halogon lights, pro panels etc), have postcards and business cards made, travel to the show, and either get a motel room or buy a 5th wheel ($48,000.00, or $85,000.00 if you have to buy the big truck, too!)  set up, stand there in the heat, cold, rain, snow, wind, dust (pick one) and smile while I’m dying to take a break, put up with hoards of people in your booth, or stand there wondering why no one is stopping, then take down everything when I’m dog-tired,  (sometimes in the aforementioned rain, snow, wind, etc), lug the mammoth weights, tent, and pricy display cases to the car,  repack, drive home, and I get 100% of the money.

It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  Galleries win hands down.  Still, all that said, I do get really excited when I get into a dynamo show.

I like doing shows for the first 6 hours.  I don’t like having no customer contact through the gallery.  It’s a real toss-up.  Sometimes I really miss the old days of the hippie art festivals, the Rhinebeck Craft Shows of the 1970s, everyone  in tie-dyed t-shirts and their treasures spread out on a wobbly card table for the world to see.  Not that I was into jewelry or art at that time… I was off digging square holes somewhere in the world then.  But  it’s my idealized version, a nostalgic look back and maybe a sanitized version,  of what really went on.

But now that back to basics really appeals to me.  Am I the only one who feels this way?  Bruce Metcalf wrote about so many of the shows looking so glitzy and so much the same. Is that true?   The big shows like the Buyers Market of American Craft  was just not a good fit for me, though they are for some of my closest friends. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a show where a bunch of friends just get together, and put on a nice art show?  I’m  thinking this indie-craft  (independent-craft)  market really has some valid points.

But what has become glaringly apparent in the last few months is how much I make my jewelry just for the pure joy of the process.  I’m at the point that I don’t do it for money, though I do feel the need to sell something to justify my rabid purchases of Gary B. and Clamshell stones. And metal.  OK, more tools, too.    If it sells, hey, that’s really great but I’m not beating myself up anymore if something doesn’t sell.   I enjoy the process. Many of my friends buy my pieces, and I am in a co-op gallery where I get a very fair per-centage of the sale price.  I like this grass-roots feeling of all this.  I am the one maker, only one person,  I own my own multi-dollar company, and I am the premier, outstanding jeweler on my block.  And I like it that way.    I don’t know if I still have that need to set the world on fire, jewelry-wise.   I am enjoying my teaching and writing so much, but I do want to share what I make with the world, just for the joy of being out there with the artists. It makes me feel creative, a part of something really cool.  If I’m successful at a show, Ok, if not, well, it wasn’t the right fit for me.   So I have mixed feelings.  All of life is a trade-off , and I dont know which way to go, thought I have some strong leanings.  Does anyone else feel these confusing feelings? I can’t be the only one who feels this.

So what do you think?.

An Interview with “Jewelry Report”

Hi Everyone–I was very honored to be interviewed by Jewelry Report. If you are interested, please read the following interview.  I was thrilled to be included in this list of  some  really outstanding artists who have been a part of this site.  I hope you enjoy it. –Lexi

BeadFest Final Thoughts…

Hi Everyone–I believe my life is so blessed.  I have the joy of doing my jewelry, teaching and traveling with friends.  Not saying everything is perfect, if it were,  my studio would be completely tricked out and I’d have a maid and an assistant.  But Santa forgot to bring those for Christmas.  But my life is pretty wonderful.  Beadfest brought me new friends (Hi to all the girls from Texas!)  and wonderful students.  But first, I have to give a huge thank you to my to two of my  best buddies, Heather Kautz and Deb Hobgood.  Without these two, I could not have pulled this off  by myself.  They unloaded and loaded through the rain and snow, thunder and cold.  We were just waiting for the plague of locusts.  To say the weather didn’t fully co-operate would be an understatement, but like I said in a previous post, Santa Fe in the snow is enchanting.

We had a great road trip down, taking Hwy 285 down from Denver through the beautiful San Luis Valley,  across the awe-inspiring Rio Grande Gorge and into Taos, where we just did a quick drive by with a promise to return soon.  We took the “low road”  down through Valarde and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.  The  pueblo was known as San Juan Pueblo, and like many in New Mexico, is returning to it’s former name, which is Tewa for “place of the strong people”.  It was  named the first territorial capital of  Nuevo Mexico in 1598, though the pueblo was founded with it’s original name in the early 1200′s.  (Sorry, the Southwestern pueblos are one of my areas of specialization as an archaeologist, and I think everyone is as interested in them as I am.)  Then we arrived in Santa Fe, one of my favorite places. We checked out LaFonda, where Beadfest was centered, and met with some of the other teachers for a Meet and Greet.

Then we headed off for dinner at Tortilla Flats, which is one of Heathyrre’s favorite places for dinner.  We were tired, so we got to the motel about 11:00 and crashed.  The next morning was breakfast at one of my favorite haunts, which no one has ever heard of unless you are a local in Santa Fe.  One of my professors at UNM introduced me to it years ago, and what it’s lacking in decor, it makes up for in green chile!!! Believe me on this one.  Horseman’s Haven is run by the Romero family, and used to be attached to the Phillips 66 on Cerillos Road.  Now it’s a free standing place, still next to the Philips 66.  I think my buddies had to really put some faith in we as we pulled up there  for brunch, but afterwards, there was not a dribble of food left on any of the plates, and we talked about getting some green chile to take back to Denver.

Then we headed off to  shop at Jackalope, to buy some last minute supplies at Santa Fe Jewelry Supply, and off to our hotel  to get tools, torches, etc  re-packed into our truck.  Bless Deb’s heart. She road the entire way with “stuff” packed  into the back seat along side of her, and never complained once.  But suddenly, the sky darkened, the wind kicked up and the thunder rolled.  It rained for a whole 45 seconds, until it started hailing, and then ice and finally five minutes later, snow!  Tons of it just dumped.  We were lucky to find a loading zone and stated uloading in the snow. The Convention Center is gorgeous, and we got all set up and were finishing just as the first students started arriving.  Because of the restrictions, I had to use the EZ torch, which is pure propane, and runs a lot cooler than my Smith ambient air/acetylene, and lights differently.   But after a bit of fooling with it, I got it to light and it worked just fine.  I had the students that every teacher dreams of.  There is a lot of beginning lecture about “the how and why” soldering works, and new vocabulary words we must go over when teaching people who are just learning to solder.  They were so patient as I droned on and on, and they took notes and asked really intelligent questions.  Finally they got to work with the torch, and they soldered a ring closed, and learned some tips and tricks along the way.   Its a beautiful thing when a class works like mine did.  I think everyone left with a lot more knowledge and a quest for more advanced info.  It was a successful class.  No one burned down the Convention Center!

My traveling companions and I celebrated that night with BBQ and margaritas at the Cowgirl BBQ, the restaurant who catered the meals at the Convention Center.  We highly recommend it next time you are in Santa Fe.  Then back to the hotel.  Three hot mamas in Santa Fe, and we were in bed by 11:00, again.  I guess we’re not real party people.  The next day we repeated the same drill, with breakfast at Tecolate and visiting a cowgirl antique store on Guadalupe St.   EXCEPT, as Heathyrre an I were setting up and putting out everyones handouts, I suddenly remembered their packets of silver and supplies were back in the hotel room, and Deb had the truck.  Well, I caught her just as she was getting ready to go to a movie and wait for us, and she had to rush back to our hotel and get the packets and get them to us at the Convention Center.  WHEW!  But she got them there in record speed and no one was the wiser.   I was a bit frazzled at forgetting them,  for everything had gone so smoothly, but it all worked out.  Again, it was a great class, full of the most wonderful students.  I know what I’m teaching is difficult for most people to truly comprehend, especially the first time, but we didn’t have the resources to have 15 soldering stations set up at once, and everyone was very patient. They all lit the torches like pros, and got their rings to solder   I am so proud of all my students.  Again, a successful class.

I learned that it is so rewarding to teach at Beadfest.  Not everyone has the opportunity to study at a college or jewelry school. The teachers are all knowledgeable in their field, and are all pros.  It was great to be with such people.   The students were so excited and so sweet to me.  I am truly touched by their willingness to try something new, and a bit scary.  Helen Driggs, the editor of Lapidary Journal and I will be team teaching at Beadfest in Dallas, Oct 1-3.  We will be teaching Intro to Metalsmithing, Intro to Tools, and Intro to Soldering, again, if our classes are all approved by the fire marshall!  Thank you for all of you who were in my classes and are reading this.  I learned so much from you all.  Please keep in touch and remember, if you have any questions, once you are my student, you are always my student.  And Beadfest is great.  If the teachers are having fun, I’ve been told that means the students are enjoying themselves.  I know I had a blast.  Hope to see you again in Dallas.  October is a beautiful time to visit Texas.

Life is beautiful, and even better when your solder flows!


Getting Ready for BeadFest Santa Fe

Here it is Sunday afternoon, and it’s rainy/snowy and messy outside.  I’m glad to be inside, and putting the final touches on my class packets for Beadfest in Santa Fe.  This is my first time to teach at Beadfest, and I’m really excited about it.  I can’t think it will be very different from teaching my adult beginning jewelry classes at the college, but one never knows.  The class is called “Soldering With Success”, and I don’t know what level of students I will be getting.   Some  will be beginning, I know, but some may be fairly accomplished, just with specific soldering problems.  I have promised them I can solve their soldering problems, whatever they may be.  I sure hope I haven’t let my mouth overload my rear end!

Being a teacher is a tremendous responsibility.  I want to make sure I am giving my students reliable information, so I continue to research every new technique that is out there.  Tevel Herbstman at Allcraft Tools recently made a new wire solder for me. It comes in a rod, like a piece of 16 gauge wire, so I will debut that.  It’s great for “soldering from the stick” or “stick soldering”.  Also I’ll be teaching pick soldering, sweat soldering and my own  way of soldering rings and jumprings.  What constantly amazes me is that something I think is “old hat”, is brand new to so many people, and that’s the fun of teaching.  I teach all the tricks and bench tips, and hold nothing back.  Why have students re-invent the wheel?  They can take where I leave off and maybe invent a better wheel.

But being a teacher is, like I said, an awesome responsibility.  I have a 30 page hand-out for them.  So there is writing the handout (mine is a compilation of my writings for the last 3 years plus some new stuff), colating, exroxing, and putting them in their orange folders (the color of a solder flame).  Yes, I even think about the color of their folders.  Then I have to order their supplies, like solder, silver, flux, solder picks, everything that will be in their supply bags, and don’t forget to order the zip lock bags, too.  Then putting everything together,  cutting the solder, silver, making sure you leave nothing out of someone’s bag. Its harder than you think, and takes a lot of organization.   Then after that’s done, I have to put together my classroom sets of pliers, files,  etc., clean and pack my pickle pot, check the torches,  and at the last minute, find out that I cannot take my acetylene tanks!!!  So we will be soldering with something that runs cooler than I’m used to.   But that’s OK, I am used to the torch we will be using, since that’s what I used in Chile for 3 years.  In fact, it’s the torch most of the world uses.  But I will miss my trusty Smith torch!

But I do this because I love teaching. Doing all these things are what I love.  I mean, its not like taking the dishes out of the dishwasher or folding clothes. (Gag)   I love writing and making packets and organizing.  I know that at the end of my last class I will have the satisfaction, that really good feeling, from sharing with my students the techniques and information that will help them become a better jeweler.  Teaching is a tremendous high for me. I make so many new friends from students, and to me, that’s what life is about.

I look forward to all of you who are coming to Beadfest in Santa Fe.  I hope to be teaching at the newly announced Beadfest Dallas, Oct 1-3.  Even if you are not taking my class in Santa Fe, if you are there, please make yourself known.  I know one of my favorite cutters, Gary B. Wilson, will be there with his glorious beads and cabs.  I’m eager to see who else is there with new and fun things.  And besides, it’s such fun to be in Santa Fe, with it’s budding Creamsicle-colored hollyhocks and adobe walls dappled with soft shadows of the bare tree branches.  I love Santa Fe in the winter.  The snow on the adobe walls makes all of Santa Fe  look like a giant carrot cake!   The pinon smoke fragrance of logs burning in fireplaces add so much to the ambience of the town.  It is wonderful, plus seeing the galleries, shops and restaurants.  I went to college in Albuquerque, so my love for all of New Mexico goes back a long way.  My soul lives in Santa  Fe and Taos.  This will be such a huge treat for me.  I’m excited.

So, See you in Santa Fe.  For those of you not going, I’ll post a full report after we return next week-end.