Finally…a new website!

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Jenwebsitescreenshot 
Jenwebsitescreenshot  
Are you a list maker? I am. I have a list of things I need to do for myself that sometimes seems a mile long. One of the things that's been on my list for a while has been creating a new website.

I finally cleared enough from my plate last week to work on building a new website for myself. My dear friends at Paper and Metal Scrappers in Payson, AZ inspired me to get my rear in gear after they debuted their new site. Brenda said the provider they used made it really simple, so I decided to give it a try.

I've known Intuit as the people who make Quickbooks, but I had no idea they were doing website development/hosting. I downloaded my free trial, looked through the templates and got to work.

I knew that I wanted something graphic and bold, which made it easy to find a template I liked pretty quickly. Though it had nothing to do with art, one immediately caught my eye even though color scheme was nothing I wanted.

I started playing around with Sitebuilder lite, changing the color scheme, the links, the boxes, etc. I added my text, uploaded photos of my work that I had already manipulated in Photoshop Elements and started to build my layers, working exactly like I do when I'm doing my artwork.

I was pretty focused and worked steady for about 5 hours. When it was time for the babysitter to leave, I had about 80% completed. I picked it up again the next day and finished it with some tweaking here and there. I almost forgot my meta tags, but luckily the Muses thumped me on the head and reminded me that when doing something teckkie, it's important to speak both human and computer. (Without the right meta tags and keywords, search engines won't find you).

I learned html ago when I worked at AzCentral, but it was so tedious that my skills went by the wayside pretty quickly. Technology has come a long way and the people designing for companies like Intuit or GoDaddy or other web development companies are doing a great job at making things simpler for the end user.

If you've been waiting to do your own website, give it a try. You will need basic designing skills like using Photoshop or another digital editing program. It helps if you have some layout and design experience, but it's not an insurmountable task. With a little patience, you can do it!

One more tip. Website hosting does not have to be a big business expense. You can get a simple 5-page website for around $5/month. If you are working with a lot of images, you can ask how much it is to upgrade. Oftentimes its only a few bucks more a month. Do your homework by asking questions before you shell out $20/month for a business website, particularly if all you are looking for is an online portfolio.

So check me out when you get a chance. My new website: www.JenCushman.com

Working with wire

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I've been playing around with wire a lot lately in the studio. When I first began making jewelry, I bought all my findings — jump rings, headpins, clasps, etc. I always admired people's gorgeous wire work and how they so easily twirled wire into beautiful shapes and coaxed texture from something that seemed, to me at the time, so difficult to manipulate.

A few years ago I decided it was time for me to put my own stamp on everything I made. This included creating my own findings. I learned to draw a bead on a piece of wire. Oh my, it was so exciting to see that little piece of wire curl into itself in, literally, seconds when dipped in a hot flame. I've drawn a bead on thousands of pieces of wire and I still love this simple act of making my own headpins.

Then I moved on to the more complicated things. Making my own wire links and clasps and incorporating them into my work. Here's a picture of a clasp I made recently for an upcoming magazine article. It's only a spiral and a loop, but I love it because it's pretty.

I enjoy the process so much now that it's difficult for me to use the pre-made findings still in my jewelry making stash. I think its time to donate them or use them up in class kits. I know not everyone wants to learn metalworking in conjunction with their beading, but I can't imagine not working with wire. The more I learn, the more I want to still discover.