Lariats and Texas – yahoo!

Tomorrow I will be in Dallas. What am I most looking forward to? Texas style hospitality, Texas-sized creativity and tons of fun.

When I was working on new classes last year, I came up with the idea of doing some lariat necklaces. I thought to myself, “Self, now as an Arizonan, I love to wear a good lariat necklace. My Texas folks ought to get it too.” The funny thing is I taught it in Chicago in August and I had more than one person come to me and say, “That is a pretty class, but I gotta ask you, what’s a lariat?” Just goes to show the world is not all alike is it?

Jen Cushman Lariat Necklace Blue Dress

If you want to learn a little more about how my lariats came together, take a peek at this blog post I wrote right before Chicago. After you read it, you might be able to picture me in my cowboy boots (round toe, I just can’t wear those pointy kind!), my new cowgirl chic lariat necklace with a hammer in one hand and cold enameling supplies in another.

I’ll be posting pics of the CREATE Dallas event on Instagram and Facebook. Please, if you’re on Facebook and you haven’t done it already, click on my business page and “like” me.

JenSig

 

 

 

Hump Day Humor

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I’m working in my studio like a mad dog this week getting ready for Dallas next week (Sept. 17-21, 2014) where I’ll be teaching five workshops at CREATE. Since I’ve been at my bench more than usual, I thought I would share one of my favorite graphics that I found a few years ago on Pinterest. I have no idea who the originator of this art is so if you are the creator, please drop me a comment and let me know so I can appropriately credit your work.

I remember the first time I took a workshop from Susan in 2005 where I got to experience a blowtorch for the first time. I drew beads on the end of bronze wire and watched slack-jawed how the beads seemed to defy gravity as they balled upwards on to themselves when I dipped them in the blue tip of the flame. That was a defining moment in my future metalworking career.

Like always, I’ll be traveling with my plumbers torch next week. No worries, I don’t bring it on the plane. I pack just the hose and nozzle in my teaching box and ship it ahead of time and always find a kind local student to buy me some MAPP gas from the hardware store. I always have it with me, like a teaching security blanket. I feel it’s my duty to introduce women to the wonders of fire and power tools. Can I get a high-five?

I’d love to hear from you. Do you use a torch? What is your favorite kind? Let’s wax poetic about the wonders of fire.

JenSig

I’m a Sticky U graduate

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I love good marketing. Seriously, I luurrrvvvvvveeeee it. Because I do the marketing for ICE Resin with my business partner Susan Lenart Kazmer, I’m always studying companies that manage to capture my attention. It’s not an easy thing to do these days — be heard and break out from the din when information is coming at us 24/7. I’ve found that companies that do stand out are doing something clever to express their vision.

Good marketing, in my humble opinion, is like making a good roux. You take the essential elements, add them together in the correct order and right timing, give it your proper care and attention (don’t walk away from the stove for goodness sakes!) and ultimately create something so simple and delicious that your customers line up for a taste.

Stay with me here. I’m going to jump from food to glue.

American Tombow Inc. recently captured my attention. Their social media specialist found my blog and sent me an email. As someone who’s involved in the crafts industry, you bet I know Tombow. I have dozens of their fab tape runners in my studio and I pull them out every time I need a quick stick. Clean, reliable, refillable and perfectly sticky every time. A staple amongst my adhesives.

However, I admit it, I tend to forget about my glue. I mean, it’s glue, right? Like salt for my roux, my work wouldn’t be the same without it because it’s an absolutely essential flavor. But it’s a connection of one element to another. It’s not something I think about. Just something I keep stocked in my pantry and wouldn’t want to live without.

So imagine my surprise to get an email saying, “Hey Jen, I love your work. We have a brand new thing we’re doing called Sticky U and I’d love for you to be a graduate.” I looked at my computer, did a double take and broke out in a grin. Hand to forehead: What?? Why?? Ok Tombow, you got my attention.

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I enrolled in Sticky U. Kasey sent me a welcome letter outlining the steps to take for my diploma, included the honorary university T-shirt and a sample of the new Xtreme permanent adhesive. I’m seriously excited to try it out because it works on paper, wood, fabric, plastic and rubber. A mixed-media artist’s dream. I have until Oct. 15th to complete my homework assignment (a DIY project) and then they’ll share it on Tombow’s social media channels. I even get an exclusive blog button that is only for Sticky U graduates. Good little motivation — like a Gold Star I got on my elementary school papers that says I’m special.

There are a lot of things I like about this campaign:

It’s clever. If Tombow had taken the traditional route, it’s marketing manager would have simply sent me an XTREME tape runner to use along with the obligatory info sheet. I would have used it. I certainly would source it in my magazine articles/blog hops/etc., but I wouldn’t have gotten overly excited.

It’s essential. Tombow folks made me think about glue and remember how important it is to my art. It’s not just glue. It’s the sticky stuff that holds everything together. Why, without Tombow, my collages would be a hot mess!

It’s fun. Without a lot of effort on my part, I get to be one of the company’s inaugural Sticky U graduates. I even get a diploma and a badge to show loyalty to my alma matter. I get bragging rights.

And the best part, in my opinion, it’s just plain out-of-the-box thinking and I like that. I like it a lot.

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Stay tuned to see what I make for my Sticky U thesis.

JenSig

 

The soundtrack of our lives

 

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My children are both going to new schools this year. My son is in high school and my daughter just started Kinder. I had them together in a charter school the last two years where I drove them to school and back each day. It’s lovely that we can now all walk to school in the mornings. I get a little exercise and also get to hold my daughter’s hand while we walk. I had a moment this morning where I held her hand just a little tighter because I recognize these days, while they seem long when I’m in the middle of them, will go by in the blink of an eye. Soon she will be like my son and not even want to walk next to me, let alone show mom any public affection.

One of the small details I enjoy every morning as I’m walking her to class is how the school tells its students to leave the playground and get moving to their classrooms. Rather than a bell, like I had at my school as a kid, her elementary school plays music. There are four songs that take about 12 minutes to cycle through, giving the children plenty of time to get from point A to point B. The first song is always Pharell’s Happy. Every day when this song begins my daughter and I can’t help but dance/walk. We naturally do a little jig every time he gets to the line, “you can’t bring me down, love is too high to bring me down.” I smile seeing her little blond head bounce up and down as she’s responding intuitively to the song.

After I’ve dropped her off and started my walk home, I get the sincere pleasure of hearing What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. The last song each day was a new introduction to me but I don’t think it could be more perfect and profound message for our children to hear. It’s called Nothing More by the The Alternate Routes. If you get a chance, read the lyrics and then click on over to hear the song.

Here’s a little taste to whet your whistle:

To be humble, to be kind.
It is the giving of the peace in your mind.
To a stranger, To a friend
To give in such a way that has no end.

We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done.
We are Peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and Nothing More

Can I say how much I adore the music teacher who put this little daily program into action for the kids? Arts in the public school system. YES! As important as reading, writing and arithmetic as far as I’m concerned.

 

JenSig

Behind the Scenes of Jewel School

Jen Cushman Jewel School Guest

I had a great time in Knoxville, Tennessee this past weekend. I was slated to be on Jewel School live Monday morning in the Jewelry TV studio, but there was training that I had to undergo Sunday afternoon. I flew in Saturday evening in order to give myself plenty of time to make the 1 p.m. walk through and meeting with the show’s host Kim Prentiss and the production team.

I was thankful for the walk through so I was prepared Monday morning for how the segment was going to go. It’s amazing 20 minutes of TV time goes so quick. It’s conversation on Red Bull! I’ve been working with Julie, the buyer, for the past year to get some ICE Resin kits — Bronze and Silver —   on to Jewel School. Susan invented the coolest technique for making Faux Druzy stones in her book Resin Alchemy and it’s really been a joy to teach that at events across the country. It’s such a simple, but incredibly effective technique using our German glass glitter to achieve a high-end jewelry look – perfect for sophisticated Jewel School customers!

In addition to the Faux Druzy technique, I demonstrated how to get an amazing Faux Opal look from our Shattered Opal inclusions. This holographic frit catches the light under ICE Resin like you wouldn’t believe. The black looks exactly like black fire opal and the white mimics opals exactly. All you have to do is sprinkle a little into one of our Art Mechanique bezels, drip some mixed ICE Resin on top and let it dry. Viola, gorgeous gemstones 10 hours later. If you would like to see the sample jewelry I made for the show, click to my last blog post.

Here are some behind-the-scenes shot of my morning on Jewel School.

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Here’s wishing all of you a truly Artful rest of your week.

JenSig

I’ll be on Jewel School this Monday

A little announcement: I’ll be appearing on Jewel School this coming Monday, August 25 from 10 a.m. to noon EST. We’ve put together two great kits for ICE Resin showing how to make fabulous jewelry using some simple faux gemstone techniques. I think some people are going to be knocked out by the kind of high end jewelry looks you can get from the our signature Susan Lenart Kazmer hobnail bezels, our Art Mechanique glass glitters, Shattered Opals and Fire Opals and ICE Resin, of course.

New Necklace Fire Opals Jen Cushman

I made fourteen pieces of inspiration jewelry for Monday’s appearance on Jewel School, but this little beauty is my new one to wear on air. It’s the end of the day Thursday and I feel so good because there’s nothing left to do for this gig but pack an overnight bag with some pretty clothes, my new art samples, my Wubbers pliers and get on a plane to Knoxville, Tenn. I’ll be in the studio Sunday afternoon undergoing some mandatory training and then up and at ‘em Monday morning for hair and makeup. (So jazzed to have a makeup artist and not having to do it myself this time. My appearances on Sonoran Living  or other local television gigs require me to get it right rather than having a pro on hand.) By the way, you can see a little video on this faux druzy technique here.

Head on over to the ICE Queen Zine Sunday for more details on Jewel School. Carol, our fab Content Coordinator, is writing a post. For now, here are a few more sneak peek photos of the “inspiration jewelry” samples.

Faux Druzy bracelet Jen Cushman

Green Faux Druzy necklace Jen Cushman

Faux Druzy blue Jen Cushman

Hope all of you are having a very Artful week!

JenSig

Guest Post on Cloth, Paper, Scissors today

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Happy Monday everyone! I hope you are ready for a little wireworking tutorial today. I did a little guest blog over on the Cloth, Paper, Scissors website talking about my upcoming workshop called Clasps, Links, Components and Chain. Since I know not everyone is able to jump on a plane to an art retreat, I also did a little tutorial teaching how to “write” your name or favorite word in wire. If you don’t have time to be creative right now, not to worry. There is a handy link embedded in the article to pin the tutorial for later.

So grab your round nose pliers, chain nose pliers and some 16 gauge dead soft wire and come play with me. Here is that link again to my Name Your Necklace free tutorial.

Chicagoland Peeps: I’ll be teaching this class this coming Thursday August 14th at CREATE. There are still four spots left so if you’re interested in learning how to save money making your own clasps, chains and components please join me.

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Dallas and Seattle Peeps: I’m bringing this workshop your way too. Registration is ongoing. Learn more here.

JenSig