The Naja Tool & Supply, Inc. was opened in 1976 and has become the largest resource of tools and supplies in Colorado.
In the early nineties, Travis Ogden was teaching metalsmithing at the Front Range Community College, where on his way to class he would buy supplies from the Naja. Eventually, he started working at the store, and in 1998 he took ownership.
The Naja moved to its current location in 2003. Ogden and his wife, Darlene Armstrong, opened the Denver School of Metal Arts located next door to the Naja a few years after that. Ogden runs the store while Armstrong runs the school where different artists teach metalsmithing classes.
Ogden’s work includes sculptural pieces as well as small-scale jewelry, mainly focused on carving from large slabs of stone using a flexible shaft machine (a sophisticated dremel tool) to easily carve the stones into the shape he wants.
“I make plain carved pendants, and by carving the stones I can make the stone fit the odd asymmetrical metal piece that a cabochon wouldn’t come close to. So it’s very integrated into the entire piece,” he says as he shows a necklace pendant with a stone that curves around the metal anchoring piece.
A main aesthetic element characteristic of much of Ogden’s work is his use of the anti-clastic form, where the axes of the metal piece are going in the opposite direction, creating a form that resembles a saddle shape.
Along with selling supplies at the store, there’s an area set aside as a makeshift gallery, where Ogden displays pieces made by his customers.
“We have some customers who do really beautiful work. For a few years now we’ve been featuring one of our customers for about a three-month period, and it rotates. One of my great joys of this is seeing the work that’s done with the tools I sell people.”