Sad to see it go

It was a rough week for me last week when I found out that F+W will no longer hold the CREATE mixed media art retreats in conjunction with Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. (If you haven’t seen the announcement yet, please read to the end where I’ve posted the email to attendees). I’ve been teaching at CREATE since the beginning and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The other instructors are like family to me, and many of my students have become my friends. While we often don’t see each other anywhere other than Facebook, it’s friendship born from the face-to-face interactions from these wonderful retreats.

Trust me, running my part of ICE Resin has taught me a ton first hand about business, even more so than when I was a business reporter. I know that the bottom line drives business and that, at some point, the plug gets pulled on ventures that are not supporting P and L. (Profit/Loss). This knowledge, however, doesn’t make it any less emotional for me. As an artist, I will continue to make art. As an instructor, I’ll continue to teach. As an entrepreneur, I’ll continue to seek out new opportunities to manifest my time and talent into ways that nourish both my soul and my income. However, I can’t deny feeling a little sad for my students. I’ve had the sincere fortune to meet some of the most amazingly talented women (and a few good men) over the years at the CREATE retreats who’ve shared their stories of how important it was for them to find their Tribe while improving their art making skills. What eases the hurt is the knowledge that other retreat organizers will benefit from the loss of the CREATEs. Students are savvy and once they know they’re part of a Tribe, they’ll seek out the other retreats run by individuals, rather than corporations, to fill the gap. I suspect we’ll see more smaller, localized and 3-day weekend retreats begin to surface and cement their place.

I realize there are many ideas floating around about what is happening and why it’s happening and, ultimately, what does it mean for our mixed-media community. I have my opinions, of course. The one thing I do know is that online is not the same as individual or group instruction when it comes to something as personal and hands-on as making art. Online is great for many people. I plan to finally start teaching more online classes myself in the future so it absolutely has its place. Technology harnessed truly is an amazing thing.

Human beings, however, need to look into each other’s eyes. We need touch, we need to be in each other’s energy fields so we can have a physical exchange of creative vibes. I can tell you that there are times when I’m teaching that the happy energy coming from a group of people pursuing their passion is palatable. Sometimes, my room is electric; the charge so intense that I can’t even settle down at the end of the day and go to sleep. I’m not ready to give that up.

Of course, I’ll flow with the changes and see what comes next. I’m still teaching at next year’s To Bead True Blue and also the Bead and Button Show. There are a few venues that I’ve applied for that I’m still waiting to see if my proposals were accepted. I have plans in the works to teach at some studios, which I am totally jazzed about. But I also find myself grateful for a bit of a breather in my schedule now to concentrate on a few important things I’ve been trying to get to — like a better website, more frequent blog posts and even an online store to sell my work.

Onward and upward, my friends. All is well. I just wanted to take a moment to ensure you’ve heard the news.

JenSig

 

 

 

 

NOTE: The ideas and opinions above are my own. In the spirit of full disclosure, I write a column for Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine and am a frequent contributor to Interweave publications. I’m also an F+W author. As an independent artist, I’m supportive and grateful of the opportunities I have to work with this amazing media company.

florish

[A Message to CREATE Attendees:

As much as we have all worked together to make our CREATE retreats special for everyone involved (and, we think, with your help we’ve accomplished that), the business-side of these events has fallen short of our requirements. We’ve evaluated increasing prices and cutting costs, but neither will be enough to make a difference to the business, nor will be beneficial to our attendees.

Hence, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the CREATE retreats; as such, we will not be committing to venues to host stand-alone, face-to-face CREATE experiences. Instead, some in-person mixed media classes will be offered at our Creating Keepsakes Conventions while others will be offered online via our expanded craft education website Craft Daily through which we will be adding to the mixed media curriculum on an on-going basis.

Thank you for your support and participation in the CREATE Mixed Media Retreats over the past several years. Your passion and commitment continues to cultivate a robust community of craft enthusiasts for the mixed media art form.

Best Wishes,

The CREATE Team]

Tucson classes are up!

Hi everyone! Just a quick note to let you know that mine and Susan’s workshops for Tucson at the To Bead True Blue show are up. Registration is going on right now over on the ICE Resin website. I’ll be teaching metal and resin techniques, of course. Also wirewrapping and cold enameling with Iced Enamels. Workshop space is limited to 20 students and classes will not be repeated. Space is limited so if you’re joining us, please get your registrations in soon.

Take a peek at my workshop offerings:

 

480-JenCushmanOvertheMoonTucsonl

Over the Moon bracelet. Sign up here.

480-JenCushmanVivid

Vivid Wire Links: Wrapped, Coiled and Colored. Register here.

 

480-JenCushmanTakeFlightCuffTucson

Take Flight Copper Cuff. Sign up now.

If you are interested in going to Tucson to see the largest bead, jewelry, gem and mineral shows in the US, here’s some information/links to get you started.

I sincerely hope I see you there!

JenSig

Handmade Holidays Blog Hop

Handmade Holidays 2014 Hop Logo

Welcome to the 4th Annual Handmade Holidays Blog Hop! A few years ago we were looking online for handmade gift ideas and thought it would be great if there was a resource dedicated JUST to handmade gift ideas. Enter the Handmade Holidays hop! We’ve gathered over 100 of our creative blogger friends in the craft industry as well as some of our fellow product manufacturers to bring you a plethora of inspiring gift ideas you can make now to give to your friends, family, and colleagues. Pin and bookmark these ideas for this holiday season and to use throughout the year! Each day of the hop features approximately 30 gift projects and you can “hop” from one blog to another to check them all out.

florish

When Jennifer Priest approached me this year to participate in her annual crafty Handmade Holidays blog hop, I was excited to see both Walnut Hollow and Graphic 45 on the sponsor list, as I really enjoy creating with these companies’ products. When I looked through the most recent Graphic 45 catalog and saw its fab typography line of papers, an idea started brewing in my head. I knew exactly how to combine Walnut Hollow’s great wood shapes with Graphic 45’s exquisite designs along with Iced Enamels and ICE Resin, of course.

I hope you enjoy my typography necklace. It makes a great gift for the writers, graphic designers, artists and hipsters in your life.

JenCushmanTypographyNecklace1

 

Supplies:

 

Handmade Holidays Step 1

Gather your supplies

 

Handmade Holidays Blog Hop Step 2

Cut Graphic 45 images from Typography paper pack

HH143

Use a paintbrush to apply sealer to front, back and all around the sides of your paper pieces

HH145

 Brush Enameling Medium onto Walnut Hollow Ampersand wood shape and punctuation shapes

Handmade Holidays Step out

Sprinkle Relique Garnet powder onto shape

HH147

Heat with a craft heat gun until powders are glossy and shiny and look like enamel

HH148

Place paper images into hobnail bezel and place cold enameled shapes onto a non stick craft mat.  Mix 1/2 ounce of ICE Resin according to manufacturer’s directions. Let rest 5 minutes after mixing to allow bubbles to dissipate. Use a disposable paintbrush to paint a thin coat of resin onto the enameled shapes.

HH149

Use your craft stick to drip mixed ICE Resin into hobnail bezel, allowing it to naturally dome. Let dry 8-12 hours. As you can see from my work table here that I went ahead and made a few more bezels with other pieces of Graphic 45’s Typography papers and filled the bezels.

 

HH14beauty1

To assemble necklace drill holes into wood shapes for attachment. Cut a 6 inch piece of 22 gauge steel wire and thread two heishi beads through the asterisk punctuation shape. Make a wrapped loop and attach to the bottom loop of the hobnail bezel. Cut another 6 inch piece of wire and thread through the hole in the ampersand. Wire wrap the ampersand to the top bezel loop. Attach necklace with a jump ring to rubber neck cording.

HH14Beautydetail1

 

Are you ready for lots more creative handmade gift ideas and projects? Follow along on our blog hop! Simply click on each of the links below to be taken to that post with additional information and photos on how to create a handmade gift project. Have fun and pin away!

Clearsnap

Ellison Educational Equipment

Walnut Hollow

Graphic 45

Hydrangea Hippo

Westcott 

Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L 

Rowland Technologies 

Neat and Tangled 

ICE Resin   ‎

Therm O Web

Elizabeth Craft Designs

Pink and Main 

The Buckle Boutique

Clearsnap – Vivian Keh

Ashley Rader – Giddy Upcycled

ICE Resin – Jen Cushman   ‎

Candy Spiegel- Candy Scraps

Rina Gonzales – Mothership Scrapbook Gal

Therm O Web – Amanda Niederhauser

Yana Smakula – My Cardmaking & Scrapbooking

The Buckle Boutique – Shawn Mosch

Eileen Hull Designs – Eileen Hull

Angela Muir – Handmade in the Heartland

Krista Winters – eat, knit & d.i.y.

Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L – Erica Houghton

Katie Smith – Punk Projects

Elizabeth Craft Designs – Karen Aicken

Jeanie Hevener – Create & Babble

Ellison Educational Equipment – Hilary Kanwischer 

Fancy Shanty – Stacy Molter

Liz Hicks – Blogerisms

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow our Handmade Holidays Gift Ideas Pinterest board for even more inspiration!

Follow Jennifer Priest of RainMaker Media Works + Hydrangea Hippo’s board Handmade Holidays on Pinterest.

A huge thank you to our sponsors for this hop – please visit their blogs below and follow them. And be sure to come back tomorrow for another 30+ amazing Handmade Gift Ideas!

Handmade Holidays 2014 Hop Logo SPONSORS 300dpi

Clearsnap || Ellison Educational Equipment || Walnut Hollow || Graphic45 || Westcott || ICE Resin || Therm O Web || Rowland Industries || Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L || Pink and Main || Elizabeth Craft Designs || The Buckle Boutique || Neat and Tangled

Additional Sponsorship provided to bloggers by:

Sakura || Fairfield Processing

Home then gone then home again

TeachingCharityWings1

My daughter and I were snuggling on the sofa watching Netflix together when she sits up rather abruptly and asks me, “Mama how many days until you leave for your art teaching again?” I gently moved a piece of hair from her eyes, tucking it behind her ear so I could look directly into her eyes. “Friday, love. Mama leaves again Friday.”

“What is today?”

“Sunday. It’s the weekend. You go back to school tomorrow, Monday, and then I’ll be here Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday too.  I have to leave to California on Friday. I’ll be gone only four days this time.”

She snuggles back into me without saying another word. She’s not sad, or even really thinking about it any longer. For some reason the thought just occurred to her. Most likely because I’ve been home for a few weeks now and she knows it’s about time for me to leave again.

TeachingCHA3

I’ve been making mixed media art for 15 years. I began when my son was a baby. I’ve been teaching since before my daughter was born, but the amount of time away has really increased the past four years. She’s young and doesn’t know anything else besides mama and daddy working. She knows mama is an artist and that just about everything I do is tied to ICE Resin. She knows I leave, get on a plane, am gone for anywhere from three to five days and then I come home again. I’m home for two weeks to a month and then I leave again. She doesn’t talk to me but once or twice when I’m away because it’s just too hard on me.  My husband knows the only way I can really focus and do what I do is to have complete and utter faith in him, grandma and the amazing after school caregiver.

I try not to think too much about this. It’s really hard for me to leave my family and my studio as often as I do. But this is what I do, and I truly love it. I don’t love packing and unpacking. I don’t necessarily love the constant deadlines. I don’t love navigating airports and shuttles and hotels. I honestly don’t mind the 15 hour days working at the art retreats, as I tend to teach both day and evening workshops and also vend at the artists fairs. I adore seeing my friends — the amazingly talented fellow artists/instructors whose work inspires me. I wish we had time for more than quick hugs and 10 minute stand-up gatherings in each other’s classrooms or hotel lobbies, but it is what it is. I really adore most of my students. Sure, there’s sometimes one or two challenging peeps, but there’s rarely ever people who are downright nasty or unhappy. You seriously have to work at it to be angry at an art retreat.

TeachingCHA1

You know what I love the most though? It’s being with my Tribe. Talking about art. Sharing ideas. Learning from the talented artists who take my classes as they’re also learning from me. I love sharing a passion for creativity and to show others how to use my favorite products. Teaching keeps me in the world. It keeps me up on the trends. It gets me out of my own little space that I create in the silence of my studio and forces me to embrace the extroverted side of my personality.

I decided to write this post today because I know there are a lot of people who dream of being instructors. I get questions all the time and so do my friends. I feel it’s my duty to encourage people to pursue teaching if it’s in their hearts. I truly believe teaching – in any capacity -is a calling that comes from something bigger than us.

Teaching Dallas CREATE

I know it can appear that breaking into art retreats is shrouded in mystery. It’s definitely a process. The best way to go about it, in my opinion, is to attend an art retreat you’re interested first as a student so you can get a feel for the event. All retreats are slightly different and have their own vibe about them. Then talk to the organizers and learn their process. Good organizers are always looking for authentic ideas and fresh projects. Here are some tips:

  • Follow the rules for submission. I know this seems like an obvious first tip, but you’d be surprised how many times I hear that people do not fully read through the instructions before they submit.
  • Understand the work absolutely must be your own and must be different from what’s already being offered.
  • Make great samples of the class you want to teach.
  • Take fantastic photos of those samples.
  • Ensure students will be able to make their class work look close enough like yours so they won’t wind up frustrated
  • Write clear descriptions.
  • Understand how much prep time goes into pulling off successful workshops.
  • Think through the out-of-pocket expenses (travel, hotel, food, art supplies, handouts, shuttles, luggage fees, shipping fees, replacing “lost” communal art supplies that you bring, etc.) and understand you will need to have resources and/or credit to pay for these up front.
  • Know that at first this can all be a little overwhelming but like anything else you’ll get better with time and experience.

Teaching CHICAGO Create

I’m so very grateful for the experiences I have over the years being able to travel and teach mixed-media art. I have definitely experienced challenges and frustrations at times too. However, the good always outweighs the rest. As you can see on my face from the pictures above that I plan to keep moving forward in the direction of my dreams and being able to share with others is still a big part of my life. Hopefully one day my daughter will be able to see me in action and understand why I made the choices I did.

JenSig

 

 

Happy Halloween

I hope you enjoy your Spooky day. I’ll be passing out candy and reveling in my little one having the time of her life as she wears her pretty Elsa dress with the flowing snowflake train. Ahhhh, to be young again. Whatever your plans are for this Halloween weekend, I hope it’s full of joyful bliss!

DayoftheDeadJen

To be an observer

Jen Cushman Breaking Out of the Mold Class Sample

I have a fully developed observer side to me. It’s an inherent trait I possess and it’s one of my qualities that made me a good reporter and also serves me now as an artist.

I’m keenly aware of details. How my children are doing when they come home from school each day, what color people are wearing or other outwardly ways they choose to express themselves. I notice body language. I notice facial expressions, like a slight down turned mouth or knitted eyebrows — both which tell me something about what’s going on inside the person. I always make a mental note to myself when teaching to be aware of micro expressions so I can look for clues as to what my students are experiencing and if I can possibly help them through any bumps in the class — emotional or technical. Art is an expression of one’s soul and, sometimes, it’s messy in there!

I also notice shapes and colors and oddities – natural or man made.  I love to see shapes layered on top of each other, like the way leaves on a tree are all similar but still unique and the depth and dimension they have when the sunlight filters through them. While I have never had any formal training in drawing (yet!), I taught myself to sketch by breaking the whole into individual shapes and building from there. It’s the way I look at an art piece. I see the whole and then begin breaking it down to the details. Once I’ve seen every small mark and studied it. I zoom back to the whole picture so I can fully appreciate the work and thought that the artist has put into his or her work.

My husband says my brain never stops. It’s true. Life is just too interesting and there are too many details.

Recognizing this inherent trait has allowed me to hone it over the years. Like a muscle one builds. I want to keep my brain sharp, and I believe that noticing and remembering details is a way to accomplish this. I even do it with my children. Not so much my son any more because he’s not into my “pretending” games that we did when he was younger, but my little one is all for it. When she notices something in the store and says, “Mama, I like that lady’s pink shirt.” I respond with a question that makes her study further. “Do you like it because of the color, or is it the lace detail on the sleeves you like? What else do you see in this store that you like?”

I want her to see that color, shape, form and beauty are everywhere. When she grows up and people ask where she gets her inspiration, I hope she replies “everywhere.” It doesn’t matter if she chooses to be an artist or a teacher or truck driver or an at-home mommy. What I want her to understand is that happiness is found in the details.

I’m sure most of you can relate. Being an observer of life is not a unique trait to anyone who makes art. While it’s always been part of me, I sincerely believe it’s a skill, and a vital one at that if you work in a creative field. Being a good artist, or dancer or musician means doing your craft so well that micro details are executed so seamlessly that the big picture of your work is ultimately flawless. Not perfect, but flawless. Perfection is overrated. A technically perfect piece with no soul can leave one feeling as cold and flat inside as a three-day-old dead fish.

If this is a new concept for you, think about it. Try it on for size. On days that might be a bit slower, use the extra moments to flex your observation muscle. Take a new route home from work, try a little harder to notice your coworkers’ expressions. Take a few more minutes to be fully present in whatever mundane task you always perform and notice how expertly you’re executing the details. If you’re not already doing this, it will become second nature if you wish it to be. Soon, you’ll notice the integration of this into your art. Trust me, it’s a very cool thing!

I’m curious. Do you consider yourself an observer? What are your favorite things to notice?

JenSig

 

Mixed media art journal with Tombow XTREME

TOM-14034-Sticky U_R2

I think I told you about Tombow’s Sticky U program where the company contacted various artists and asked them to participate in a new marketing campaign using the Xtreme glue runner. For a quick refresher, here’s the post I wrote a few weeks ago on it.

Well the deadline has come and I’m excited to share my mixed-media art journal on my blog and also over on Tombow’s blog.

A couple weeks ago I was teaching in Dallas, Texas at a CREATE event. One of my workshops was my Art Journal Jewelry one, where we explore collage, color and mark making and then turn them into one-of-a-kind art jewelry. These images were the pages I created throughout the day as I demoed the techniques and each step in the process.

As I was unpacking my instructor’s box and repacking for my next art retreat in Seattle (Oct. 22-26), I came across my class samples. It seemed the perfect art focal as my Sticky University thesis.

StickyUproductshotintro

A plain black Moleskein journal became the substrate. I cut down the collage painting on the left of the beautiful Geisha and then attached it quick and easy with the Xtreme glue runner. Wanting to test the company’s marketing information that this new glue is 5x stronger than standard tape runners and will work on everything from wood to acrylic to metal, I cut a strip of vintage measuring tape and glued it down.

Next, I wanted to test the boundaries of this glue with delicate objects so I pulled some beautiful Guinea Hen feathers a student of mine in Dallas gave me and attached them with Xtreme too. The feathers are perfectly adhered and there is zero glue showing through, which is pretty cool if you ask me. I’ve worked with real feathers quite a bit and they are a pain to get right with wet medium.

JenCushmanCarnealianQueen1LR

One quick tip: When using the tape runner be sure to end the gluing motion with a side swipe. This stuff is so wonderfully sticky that if you just lift it off your substrate, the glue will pull up and you’ll have strings to deal with. A quick side swipe cleanly breaks the sticky film. Here’s a good video from Tombow showing how to use it if you’re interested in seeing more.

So now that I’ve had time to play with the product my conclusion is that the Xtreme really is perfect for mixed-media artists. I give it two thumbs up and will continue to use it in my work and keep it as an adhesive staple in my studio.  Sure, it’s nice to be a Sticky University graduate, but, really this is a product review and what’s most important to you is to know that it’s simple, easy and works.

JenCushmanCarnealianQueendetail2lr

Tell me, are you a glue aficionado? What’s you favorite adhesive for your mixed-media work?

JenSig