3 Little Houses All in a Row

I’m in sunny California along with Susan and the ICE Resin team setting up our booth. We’ve been working hard for months on the booth, art samples, new products and all kinds of crafty goodness for the Winter CHA trade show.

mixed media canvas by Jen Cushman

Just a quick post today since we’re all busy little artists. I thought I’d share a sneak peek of another one of my mixed-media pieces I made for the show. I call this one 3 Little Houses All in a Row. Sorry the pics are not the best. I had to grab them quickly. It was actually still drying on my kitchen table so I couldn’t even pick the canvas up for a better view.

This is a large 18×24 canvas that is really bright and colorful. I added houses made of hardboard with images from our brand new Art Mechanique collage pack that I resined with our signature product, ICE Resin. There are bezels, resin paper leaves in the tree, a sweet little clay birdie and even some Industrial Chic charms on this canvas. Everything but the kitchen sink!

mixed-media art by Jen Cushman

Be sure to check in with the ICE Queen eZine to see what we’re up to. Carol, our social media maven, is at CHA to collect some video and information for us.

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

CHA Giving Tree Ornament

I’m off to do the CHA CHA CHA. (It’s an old joke, but I never seem to tire of it). This time, I’ve packed up my car with extra stuff for our booth -Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin Booth #1029 — along with my luggage, too many shoes and my sweet friend Carol LaValley, who does the social media for us.  

The booth has been shipped ahead of time and is waiting at the Anaheim Convention Center for me, Carol, Susan, Kristen and a my sweet hubby to assemble it and get it looking “wowza” for the Winter CHA 2012 trade show.

In my car is my handmade ornament for the Giving Tree, which is part of CHA’s theme this year The Power of Community, where a handful of really wonderful charities are participating in all kinds of activities at the show. Each CHA show, Designer members are given the opportunity to make something using products from manufactures they work that will be featured on the show floor. My friend and fellow designer Candice Windham is the coordinator of this program and she does such a fabulous job working with Keri Cunningham of CHA every year on a cool theme/project.

The summer theme of Crafty Couture was so big that I knew it would be hard for Candice and Kerry to top that one. I think stepping back a bit and making this show’s  designing opportunity all about charity, particularly in this economy and how much folks are needing some extra help, is a really lovely thing to do. I’m 100% supportive and all in. If you are at CHA, you can see all the designer’s ornaments at the Community Park.

I chose to make an ornament for Charity Wings, just because they’ve kind of become my pet project this year, which I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve been reading my recent blog posts. I love their “Crafting for a Cause” motto and how the volunteers raise money for all kinds of great charitable organizations. Plus, I adore hearts and their logo is a heart with wings and a crown. Not that’s something I can sink my artistic chops into!

My ornament is an acrylic house shape that I hand cut and layered with vintage sheet music paper that I resined up and then added color to with alcohol inks. It has a die cut swirl that I cut from my stash of Grunge Board that I stained with inks. The focal is one of my favorite SLK bezels, which is is the large rectangle hobnail shadowbox, filled with magnetic poetry pieces, vintage rhinestone chain and ICE Resin. The entire background was sealed in a lovely layer of ICE and allowed to dry overnight.

I formed a paperclay heart by hand, painted it and added highlights. I also took copper wire pieces that I forged and handformed into wings and heated with a torch to give it a lovely patina. To complete the piece, I added a whimsical metal crown to the heart and added a copper wire hanger where I drew a bead on either end for the perfect cold-connection. It just needed a tiny bit more so I added a large wirewrapped pearl and crystals and some on our gorgeous silk ribbon. This stuff is luscious!

The ornament will be donated to Charity Wings and auctioned off for charity. I’m not sure yet if that will be done at the convention, or if it will happen post-CHA. I’ll be sure to let you know if it’s the latter though in case you’d like to own it for yourself.

CHA Video DejaVu

Since I’m heading to Winter CHA this week, I thought it would be fun to share the video Elena Lai Etchverry, founder of Charity Wings, and I did together this past July at Summer CHA. I was so in the moment while Elena was interviewing me, that I honestly just watched this film again the last week. As I’m viewing it (oy, it’s always so hard to see oneself on film isn’t it???), I can’t help but cringing at some of my silly comments. But then I just shrug my shoulders because this is me. It’s who I am when the camera rolling, or when I’m talking to a group of people or even amongst my friends. What you see, baby, is what you get.

Elena and I are teaming up again this coming CHA. I made an art piece for the Giving Tree, where CHA Designer members picked a particular charity and made an ornament for them to auction off to raise money for charity. SLK/ICE Resin is also sponsoring Charity Wings CHA Live Streaming program this year, which Elena and her team do an amazing job covering the behind-the-scenes happenings at the world’s largest Craft wholesale trade show. Here is some more information if you wish to sign up for the program. Insider crafting info and a tax write-off? What’s not to love?

I doubt I will have time to make new posts too often at CHA because we will be swamped with the Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin booth and my other gigs as a CHA Designer Member, but our Social Media Maven, Carol LaValley is coming with us this time to update the company blog and take lots of short little videos during the show. Be sure to check out the ICE Queen eZine and look for me and the rest of the team throughout the week there.

Found Objects and Mold Making

I have a Workshop in the January issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine on making molds of found objects and then casting the molds with both ICE Resin and resin clay. This was such a fun article to write because I was able to spend the better part of a week in October using up more than 2 big containers of my Art Mechanique molding putty on all kinds of bits and pieces I have lying around my studio and almost as much resin and resin clay.

Oh I do love to make molds and cast objects. It really is addicting once you get into it. The little baby above is a frozen Charlotte doll body and face that I made a mold of and then cast in resin clay. I then painted her up to look exactly like the real thing. Her sculptural skirt is 18-gauge bronze wire that I hand formed into a cage and drew a bead on either end for her feet. The rest is a little bit of resin paper, some paint, vintage lace scraps, ribbon and 7Gypsies tissue paper and bookbinding tape from my stash.

The article shows you very clearly how to do this mixed-media art technique step-by-step. My friend, Carol LaValley did the step-out photos (she’s also the person who did it for my book) so they are nice and close on the hands. I’ll be teaching mold making of found objects and resin clay this summer at the CREATE Art Retreat hosted by Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.

The issue also features photos of the dresses made for Craft Couture at Summer CHA. Mine and Claudine Hellmuth’s dress is in there, along with the other winners.

I’ve had people ask me why I don’t also show the step out photos in my blog as a free tutorial. The reason is because once you agree to write an article for a magazine, they own the copyright to the work for usually the first 90 days after the publication hits the newsstands. Even though it’s my art work and writing, if I put the information on my blog now, I would technically be competing with the publisher. I can show you sneak peeks and also a scan of one page or so, but not show it in its entirety. I only mention this because there are often a lot of questions regarding publishing and, particularly with the availability of free information on the Internet these days, folks are often surprised to learn there are some definite professional rules.

If you are a fan of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine, you’ve probably already seen the workshop. If you only purchase it occasionally, head on over to your local bookseller when you get a chance. I’d be most appreciative!

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day.

CHA Live Winner

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner….Beverly Jordan, congratulations you won the LIVE from CHA All-Access Pass giveaway courtesy of Charity Wings. I’ll email you in a bit to get your addy and pass along the info that Elena needs.  

Thanks everyone who played along. Your comments were awesome! I will be forwarding them along to Elena as well so she knows what ya’ll are looking forward to seeing. You can be our focus group of sorts!


My turn for Creative Jump Start

Today is my day to be featured on my friend Nathalie Kalbach’s awesome program, Creative Jumpstart 2012. Nat asked a group of creative women to share tips and advice for getting over the doldrums when we experience blocks. You won’t be able to view my video unless you’ve subscribed to Creative Jumpstart, but that’s as simple as clicking here. It’s free and the information the artists have provided so far has been just amazing. I’ve checked it out every day.

The one bummer for many of you whom might be learning about me for the very first time is that I do not have a lot of new work to show you. I spent the later half of 2011 in my studio making a ton of  jewelry, but it’s all for my book coming out in November. Everything I’ve made stays under wraps until it’s published. The photos featured here are from my first book Explore, Create, Resinate.

I know that many of you work in scrapbooking or art journaling. That’s how I began my creative rediscovery. When my son was born 12 years ago, I left my career as a newspaper journalist to be an ar-home mommy. I joined a mother’s club to make new friends and a woman introduced me to Creative Memories. I was hooked, but immediately started adding crazy things like paint and texture and lumpy bumpy objects. I liked to work fast, so I used rubber cement to glue down everything but my pictures (because I didn’t want them disentegrating). As I broke every rule there was at the time, my invites to crops kept getting fewer and fewer. It used to bother me tremendously to be shunned by my peers, but now, what can I say? I’ve grown.

Within six months of my son’s birth,  I went back to work on a freelance basis writing features. I was asked to be the Visual Arts Editor of a swanky magazine and that’s when my love of fine art, as well as my informal art education, really began. I’ve continued to write and consider words to be my first love. Mixed-media art, particularly jewelry, is my passion these days, but unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow me to make art every day. I do write every day Monday-Friday, but that’s because of my job.

I make the act of creating a priority, but then my articles, my work with Susan Lenart Kazmer and ICE Resin, my book, teaching and my family are also priorities. In addition to my son, I have a 2-year-old daughter. Some days work fills more of my time, but then I balance it out with quality family time.  When I go too long without physically making something I get grumpy and my husband points out that I haven’t taken any time for me. I truly admire people who create every single day, but alas, I’m not one of them.

Fortunately, editors keep me busy so I do get to make art regularly as part of my work. Thank goodness for deadlines! Plus, the organizers of art retreats and independent stores need good class samples, so I’m always creative there.

The thing, though, is that even though I don’t get to work it every single day, these projects stem from the early years when my son was little where I did get to create every day. It comes from all those moments of  art for art’s sake when I had no idea I was working and honing my craft in order to prepare myself for a career.

So here is really my very best piece of advice for you. Know in your heart that Art Chooses You. It chose you at birth when you got that extra special way of looking at the world, when a need for being creative was programmed into your DNA. Whatever your goals or dreams are for yourself creatively are separate from who you are, which is already an artist. It doesn’t matter if you make art under the covers with a flashlight not letting the world see your creations, or if you publish them on your blogs or magazines the world to see. That part of the equation is the final product, not the inherently beautiful act of creation itself.

What matters is that you make stuff. Be it. Own it. Live it. The rest will come because where you put your focus, is where you succeed (or fail if  the focus is negative). You are already a success because Art Chose You.

Thank you so much for taking this time to visit my blog today and, hopefully, get to know me a little better. If you wish to learn a little bit more, here is a post I wrote for my friend Traci Bautista when she asked for advice for a marketing program she created. You can also see my website. If you are looking for some great classes this year, check out where I’m teaching. I love to meet my blog and column readers in person.  

Here’s wishing each of you a truly Artful week!

LIVE From CHA Giveaway

Have you heard about the LIVE from CHA webcasting/livestreaming event put on by the fabulous organization Charity Wings? If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to walk around the huge Winter Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show, Elena Lai Etcheverry (the founder of Charity Wings) began this very fun livestreaming a few years ago where they cover the opening 2 days of the event.

Elena began Charity Wings seven years ago to combine her love of crafting with her background in event planning and fundraising to raise money for charity. So far, the Charity Wings volunteers have raised more than $360,000 for great causes. I met Elena last Winter CHA and found out more about her organization. I’m impressed and have been lending a hand whenever I can.

Elena jam-packs CHA Live with tons of interviews from your favorite craft manufacturers and interviews with some of the best and most well-known Designers. In addition to the event, participants get a kit of products shipped to their home that are donations from all the supporting manufacturers. The kit alone is easily worth the $39 price of the pass in brand new product that’s being debuted at CHA. (

Side note: Isn’t the logo above so cute? It was designed by my fellow CHA Designer Member Jennifer Priest who’s a self-proclaimed “addicted scrapbooker”. Love her blog!)

CHA Live takes place January 29 and 30th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to the kit, manufacturers donate prizes throughout the livestreaming so there are lots of chances of winning product AND handmade art. We’ll be participating with Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin, giving away goodies bags worth more than $100, which includes a handmade jewelry piece, some ICE Resin, bezels and a signed copy of my book, Explore, Create, Resinate. She’ll also be at our booth too, so you’ll get a tour of what our ICE Resin team has been working so hard on for the past couple of months. We’re just one of many.

So, here’s the cool part. Elena is giving me (along with other designer friends of mine) the chance to GIVE AWAY an exclusive All Access Pass to CHA to one lucky winner. If you live in the U.S., I will pay the cost of shipping for the kit, which is around $10.50. If you happen to sign up for the giveaway and live in Canada or International, I’m sorry but you will need to fund the shipping costs. Please email info@charitywings.com to get a price quote.

All you have to do to be entered to win the All Access Pass, is leave a comment here to let me know what kinds of products and ideas you are most excited about seeing at the upcoming Winter CHA trade show. Because kits are being shipping at the end of the week, the contest will close Thursday Jan. 19th at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Good luck everyone!

Art Unraveled 10th Anniversary

Congratulations to Linda Young for creating and organizing a decade of fabulous mixed-media art retreats held each August in Phoenix, AZ. Art Unraveled – or AU, as it’s affectionately called, has such a special place in my heart because, being in my hometown, it’s the first art retreat I ever attended when I was re-discovering my own artistic being.

I am thrilled to tell you that I’ll be teaching 3 classes at AU this year! They are all evening classes, which is good if you’re local and have to work during the day. You can just sign up for my classes and zip over after work to have some art making play time! For those of you whom come in for the whole retreat, I hope you check me out and sign up for something that interests you. I’m packing lots of technique/information in 3 short hours so it will definitely well worth the money spent.

Here’s a peek at my classes:

Tuesday, July 31st — The Pitch, The Project, The Paycheck (it says contract on the AU workshop page, but since I’m not an attorney, I won’t be talking about any legalities). This is a lecture-style class with handouts on how to approach editors to get your work published. It’s a complete “how to” from coming up with an idea, to querying the editor to follow through. I will also be handing out some extras like a sample press release, a non-disclosure agreement should you ever need one, a sample invoice, etc.

Wednesday, Aug. 1st — 1 Mold, 3 Mediums. I’ll be teaching how to cast found objects in molding putty and then how to make cast objects using resin clay, paper clay and ICE Resin. Also, various surface treatments to bring your cast pieces to life. This class is based on a Workshop article I wrote for Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine in their January 2012 issue.

Lastly, on Sunday, Aug 5th — Filigree and Fiber Bracelet where we’ll be putting together a really lovely cuff. I will be teaching some basic metalsmithing techniques, such a cutting and stamping metal and wirewapping beads. This project is something that students can easily translate into pieces for their Etsy stores or craft fairs, as the project is one that’s very desirable to many mixed-media jewelry collectors.

Because its AU’s 10-year anniversary, Linda is offering a 10% discount on workshops if you sign up before March 15th. Also, I don’t know how many of you have been to AU before, but she puts on an all day Shopping Extravaganza on Saturday that’s just the bomb. Not only do the teachers vend, but many of the attendees are mixed-media artists and store owners who bring mini-stores to the event. People always ask me where I get many of my found object treasures that I use in my collages/assemblages/jewelry and usually, my response is Art Unraveled!

Registration is open now. Hop on over and take a drool at all the offerings from many of the top mixed-media artists in the country today.

I’m up on CreateMixedMedia.com

My January column is now up on CreateMixedMedia.com. This month, I’m talking about something rather serious, such as what happens when you find yourself  either stuck in a non-creative job, or worse, laid off from a job you may or may not love. It’s not so much that have a ton of answers with this column, but I am asking some questions that might help someone in this type of situation gain a new perspective.

I got the idea from my Facebook friend Laura Fraderich, who found herself in exactly this kind of situation. How she overcame her experience and what happened to change her life in a new, positive way is such an inspiration to me that I had to share with others. Since, it’s Laura’s story to tell and not mine, here’s a link to her blog post on the subject.

If you have some time, please check out my column and also Laura’s post. As always, I hope you find something in my words that you can relate to. The column stays up for a week. I’d love if you share the link with other people whom you think might enjoy it.

 Thanks and have a truly Artful day!

Belle Armoire Jewelry Winter 2011/2012 issue

This post is a little late in the making, but I wanted to ensure you’ve had a chance to see the Winter 2011/2012 issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry. Another great issue, which is even better than normal, in my opinion, because there are a couple of really good metalsmithing projects this time around. Plus, my sweet and talented friend Kristen Robinson has a wonderful artist profile written by my other incredibly talented friend Rice Freeman- Zachary. Also my new friend Cat Kerr is featured in this issue. Cat is one of our Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin Creative Team members and the stuff she has been making for us is divine!

I’ve already heard some feedback from half-dozen of you on my column “Art Choose You” for this issue. This column is the second-part in the series on having a website and/or blog. I’m thrilled to say this topic hit a nerve with so many readers, which is great because it really is the most basic thing, I believe, a person must do if they want to take their art-making skills to another level of selling, teaching or publishing.

I have friends of mine who are the most prolific artists. Seriously, they work fulltime jobs and then come home in the evenings and every weekend (they’re kids are grown) and are in their studios making jewelry designs to sell at craft shows or art events. Neither of them are technologically savvy, mostly because they just don’t care to learn because they’re too busy making art, so they have only the most basic of marketing materials – business cards and brochures. I keep telling them they’re missing the boat by not having even the most rudimentary of websites, but they honestly don’t care because they’re happy with what they’re doing. I shrug and say no more because who am I to argue with someone else’s happiness?

Here is my under-the-breath “however” though. This world is going more and more digital. My friends are missing the boat, and when they do decide to play catch up (and they will because the pressure for an online portfolio will become too great to ignore), it’s going to seem impossible to begin when they’re so behind the 8-ball.

So I wrote these last two columns for Belle Armoire Jewelry to help others know where to begin. If you are interested, be sure to pick up both the Summer and Winter 2011 issues.

In addition, I have an article in there on making forged bangles. This is a fabulous metalsmithing project that is such an easy way to get started in working with metals. No sawing or cutting. Just hammering to create lots of texture, annealing and forming around a bracelet mandrel. These bangles are featured in my upcoming book with North Light Books, so I’m excited to debut this sneak peek.

Thanks for checking in today. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!