Mon Petit Coeur workshop

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be teaching at one of my favorite guilty-pleasure vintage shops in Southern California called Gilding the Lily. Every time I go to the Orange County area, I always find a way to sneak over to this little slice of retail therapy Heaven. Owner Nancy Jamar is a beautiful jeweler herself and, wow, does she have an eye for quality. The vintage beads, the rosary chain, the millenary items, the lace, the trim..swoon…my heart is beating faster just thinking about it!

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I created a brand-new class just for Gilding the Lily and called it Mon Petite Coeur, or My Little Heart necklace. I’ll be teaching how to use ICE Resin with backless bezels and how to train your artistic eye to design for both positive and negative space. The necklace includes three beautiful Rue Romantique by Kristen Robinson bezels, vintage bits and bobbles, one-of-a-kind transparencies, some lovely Connie Crystal beads, as well as gorgeous tattered ribbon and gilded rosary chain found only at Gilding the Lily. Students can easily bring a family photo or a vintage tin type to include in bezel if they wish to personalize it.

I adore the store in Fullerton and the people there so much I wanted to make the class special. It’s a deal at $115 for the day and includes everything you need to make your unique piece of art. This is my last teaching gig of the year and thrilled to finish off 2014 on such a beautiful note.

You can sign up now. Space is limited to 15. I hope you see you there!

JenSig

My home has gone to the (cat) and dogs

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Four months ago we brought home a feral kitten. She was about five weeks old and from a litter of four. She was most definitely the runt, and she had a bad eye infection that was so sticky that she could hardly see. The kittens and mom lived outside at the house of my daughter’s babysitters. These people are cat lovers and have been feeding and watering and keeping ferals alive in the neighborhood for 20+ years. Unfortunately, our neighborhood has a bad feral cat problem. Fortunately, there are some families who’re active in getting city grant money to participate in the catch, spay/neuter and release program.

Each morning this summer as we walked to the sitter’s house, we’d have to spend an extra 15 minutes outside catching and playing with all the kittens. This sweet little tuxedo kitten was the first one to always get caught by my girl. I think it was partly runt, partly eye infection and partly because she was used to being picked up by children and adults already. My daughter begged me for a kitten. I said no. Every afternoon I would send my teenage son down the street to pick up his sister, and the two of them would spend another 15 to 30 minutes playing with kittens. He started begging me for a cat. I said no. I was holding strong because my husband was dead set against it.

But then I stated to hold this little one, and the mama in me kicked into high gear and I found myself worrying she would go blind from the eye infection. I have never in my life owned a cat. My mother can’t stand them. Dogs only. My kids begged and then we all started begging my husband. Outnumbered, he gave in, but he made it very clear this is not his cat. My daughter kept calling her kitty cat, kitty cat so she named her Kit Kat.

We took the kitten to the vet and cleared up her eye infection. She’s had her shots and next up we’ll be getting her fixed. We kept her in my son’s room and slowly introduced her to the dogs (all shelter animals because I believe these animals have an endless capacity for love, like they know they’ve been saved somehow). Kit Kat didn’t have run of the house until just last month. Her and my little dog play every day. She likes to hide in a box and then when the dog isn’t looking, the cat jumps on her kamikaze style and scares her. Then the two of them tussle and play for an hour. Even my old boy (the white one) has taken to kitten. He won’t play, but he’s usually the first one she snuggles up next to for nap time. I believe Kit Kat thinks she’s one of the pooches.

This picture is what I see every morning about 10:30 a.m. when I walk from my studio/office through the living room and into my kitchen to get water and a handful of nuts. My animals napping, all touching on our old, worn-in sofas where babies, kittens, puppies, kids and animals are welcome to sleep, jump, play and chill. Our home is comfortable, lived in and people/pet friendly. Sometimes I dream of having an artist’s abode where the entire house is magazine worthy, but then I remember that in my world love looks like this.

JenSig

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