Archive | April 2012

A CREATE video

A little video I did about my classes next month at the CREATE mixed-media art retreat in Irvine, California. Yep, these woods are the view from my back deck. Pretty huh?

Visit their website to find out more about the event and all the fabulous instructors.

It’s a good day!

It's a good day!

I’m feeling happy and complete today. I turned in my manuscript for my book yesterday to my editor. It’s been a lot of hard work creating what I hope are beautiful projects, doing the step-out photos and writing the manuscript. It’s also an amazing experience to be having and one I am just so very grateful for. I’m celebrating today by playing around on my computer with some images. This is a digital collage I just made in Photoshop for a new Timeline header on my Facebook Page. The collage is a taken from an assemblage of mine and bits and parts of some Instagram photos I took yesterday when I was shopping in the Melrose District (central Phoenix). The sentiment is how I’m feeling today in general.

What about you? When was the last time you walked on Cloud 9?

ICE Resin Paper Tutorial

Here’s a little video tutorial I did last summer at the Stampington & Co. offices for the Shoppe at Somerset. The video is still online in their shop, but I thought it would be nice to include it on my blog as well. There’s also an entire chapter on making resin paper, with gorgeous art samples, in my book Explore, Create, Resinate; Mixed-Media Techniques using ICE Resin.

If you’re interested in all kinds of crafty techniques for free, head on over to Stampington for more great videos by some of the top mixed-media artists working in the field today. Also, be sure to check out this chic and easy Art Mechanique necklace made by Shoppe Manager Vanessa Spencer, inspired by a piece I created and gave her at Winter CHA 2012. Vanessa did a tutorial on how to make it, so be sure to check it out.

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More renovation this weekend

20120415-174244.jpg

We spent another weekend cleaning our new-old family home. We filled another 3 garbage cans, the 3 recycling bins and are still not quite done.

We also rented a industrial floor scraper and my husband ripped up the old linoleum flooring from when my in-laws built a new family room on to the house in the 70s. We also pulled it from the kitchen. I’m afraid hubby is going to be quite sore tomorrow. Our son worked hard helping too, picking up all the pieces and throwing them in the trash. He’d much rather be playing video games, but as he’s living there too soon he must help as well. I think it’s teaching him important life lessons. Maybe he’ll have more enthusiasm for his chores after doing real hard labor.

As I was getting into the top cupboards wayyy up high, I found this beautiful coffee set. It was my mother-in-law’s that she bought in the 50s when she was single and attending nursing school. On Sunday afternoons, she and her best girlfriend hung out in her tiny apartment, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes (it was the era for it) and dishing about school and boys.

I love it and am saving it for my studio. I think I will use the set with my French press and invite over my best girlfriends to make art and dish about life and children and maybe even boys.

Pinterest Testimonials from Artists

This month’s column is up on Create Mixed Media where I decided to talk about Pinterest and how it’s being embraced by artists and other creative people. Pinterest is a new social media phenom that’s growing in global membership with each passing day.

Here’s a little secret of mine. I’m lucky to have more than 1,500 Facebook friends, with the majority of them being other mixed-media artists and crafters. Considering I’ve been on Facebook since 2008, this is not a huge number of friends, but then again I rarely go looking for people to friend. Social media is not a numbers game to me. I’d rather have two people following me who really care about my work and what I to say rather than 5,000 people who will never look at my Timeline or bother to read my Tweets. I believe in quality versus quantity in life, business and even social media.

Because of this approach, I have made some über talented Internet friends whose opinions and values I trust and respect. Whenever I want to bounce an idea for one of my columns off someone, I find myself going to my Facebook page and asking questions. The responses I get are tremendously insightful. I received so much positive response to my Pinterest questions that I thought it’s a shame to keep my friend’s thoughts to myself. I wanted to share their brilliance with you, too.

Here’s what other artists are saying about Pinterest:

“It is a phenomenal tool, for both creative inspiration and for social networking. Just as one needs to be pinning responsibly, people also need to be responsible for content of what are pinning. Make sure before you click “pin it” that the photo is something that you want all of your followers to see. Pinterest is like any other social media, we are often judged by what we present to the world – good or bad!” — Suzann Sladick Wilson  of Beadphoria (my artist friend who originally invited me to join Pinterest a year ago).

“My advice is to brand your photo with your url and bless people who pin your work!!” — Kathy Cano Murillo, aka The Crafty Chica

“Pinterest has become a huge source of traffic to my blog. Pin away!” — Theresa Momber

“I need a Pintervention! I love using it for color inspiration, and finding quotes to use in my artwork. I’m fine with my work being pinned as long as some kind of link or credit is given so I can be found as the artist.” — Jen Osborn (no, not the person in my CMM article whose family did a real Pintervention. She remains anonymous).

“By using Pinterest, I can better bookmark, organize and categorize all the things that keep me inspired as an artist and photographer.” Niki Miners

“I like it. It’s another way to get my work out to a wider audience. And what a source for inspiration for the works of others and fabulous color combinations. It’s an easy way to help define what you are drawn to.” — Doris Arndt

“Now that Pinterest has changed their TOS and rules, it is more welcoming to artists. When artists raised concerns about the rules, Pinterest was very proactive, listened, and made changes quickly. I’m impressed with them as a company. I’m back on Pinterest and do brand each photo like Kathy. Every photo on my blog or those that I pin, have my copyright and website url. I thank those who repin any of my work. The CHA Design Section does have a Pinterest board on which we pinned items we saw or had displayed at the show.” Carol Heppner

“I love pinterest – it’s a wonderful source of inspiration and a way to connect with a larger audience. ” — Heather Powers

“I LOVE Pinterest and use it almost daily! It is a great source of inspiration and provides insight into trends because people are USUALLY pinning the best of the best images and things that interest them RIGHT NOW. It’s free trend research! As far as having my own work pinned, I encourage it. I watermark all of my images with my logo and web address so that if my image is pinned and that info is not provided by the original “pinner”, people still know the source of the image and can find me. It is the best kind of advertisement money can’t buy — not only is your image potentially exposed to millions of people who may or may not be involved in crafting, but it is a huge compliment that people choose YOUR image to pin. Who doesn’t want their work to be cataloged along with the best of the best? I sure do!” — Jennifer Priest

“I’ve been on pinterest forever! I don’t brand each and every photo on my blog – only the finished project shots & I’m thoughtful about what I put on my blog because of pinterest. ” — Vicki O’Dell

“I am a new and huge fan of Pinterest…..just ask my hubby who doesn’t see me at night until the wee hours!!! I love to just go look at all the stuff I pinned for inspiration…it’s everything I love in one place! How does one go about branding their images…..that might be something I might look into since many times my work is repinned but there is no name attached to it…..???” Laurie Mika

“I LOVE Pinterest. As an artist, I would LOVE to have my work being repinned, it is a fabulous place to find things without having to specifically knowing what you are looking for, like you would through a search engine. I have found the most awesome ideas for decorating, places to shop and things that inspire me. ♥ I don’t think that they should be making a big deal out of legalities and such. I have heard some negative concerns. If it is on the web, why wouldn’t someone want to reach as many folks as possible~ that is what privacy settings are for.” — Tracy Dove

“I love Pinterest and I’ll tell you why…. because it’s free advertising for your art. I don’t sell my art but I have bought art by going to the link in the original post. I have pinned Jane LaFazio’s art because it’s amazing. I also like that I can find information about supplies, artist techniques and tips.. It’s more detail than Facebook and not as tedious as trying to find something on an artist’s website.” — Sharon Newby

“Hey Jen, I love Pinterest and I agree with Sharon, it’s a great way to get your work exposed and direct them to your blog or business website. I don’t worry about images being stolen and used for commercial use by others because the images are 72 dpi and because they are so small they can’t be used for much.” — Melissa Harnett Ustik

“Love it, and am happy to be pinned if they credit the source. I don’t have much free time either, but I budget the time into my Social Networking slot each day. I pin my own work, if people don’t like that so be it. It’s only a small part of my page. Besides, with the Pinterest terms, they really send out a mixed message on that front.” — Margot Potter
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Big Changes and New Transitions

Ivy growing up the back of the house. My mother-in-law has an incredible green thumb.

One of the things I keep writing is about following your heart and pursuing your dreams with authenticity and unrelenting determination. When you dream a bigger dream for yourself than you ever could have imagined and then physically put yourself in the direction of your dreams, you’re telling the universe what you want and are attracting it to you. Opportunities come to you. People and events line up in your life with beautiful synchronicity, which is how you know you’re on your right path and living your life’s purpose. Not the life others wish for you, but the authentic life you both desire and deserve.

There’s been so many amazing synchronicitys in my life this past year, in particular. Opportunities I could never have imagined and things I never would have dreamt that I even wanted. One of these is moving back to Phoenix, my hometown. My father-in-law passed away four years ago, meaning my mother-in-law has had to find a way to move forward and create a new life without her soul mate. The house they bought a year after they married, and remodeled a few times throughout 45 years of a life together is still in the family. She’s been slowly going through it, figuring out what to save and what to discard. It’s incredibly difficult as everything is a memory, including the most stirring reason they called it home — to be in love and raise a family.

The last of the pile for Goodwill ready to go in my sister-in-law's car.

With 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a huge yard and swimming pool, the house was too big for one person. She moved two years ago into a smaller condo and has been trying to decide what to do with it. The housing market in Phoenix is still at an all-time low. Despite two major remodel projects — one done in the 70s and another 15 years later, the house needs some major love and updating. It’s got great bones, but there is A LOT to do.

Enter my husband and myself and our children. Work responsibilities have been taking us back to the Valley far too often, so we made a decision with Mom’s blessing to fix up the house and move back. It sounds so simple, so easy, so wonderful and, in many ways, it is. Then there is the Yikes! factor where we look at each other and say, “Are we really doing this?”

The traditional mural that's been in the dining room since the first remodel in 1971.

We are with the help of the entire family. We spent all day Friday and Saturday cleaning and clearing. We filled 3 large garbage cans, 3 large recycling bins, a full trailer load to the dump and one more full trailer to Goodwill. We also took down wallpaper they lovingly applied over the years in nearly every room.

My mother-in-law was very quiet, but such a trooper. She’s let go, which is an incredibly difficult and brave thing to do. As I was working on the bedroom that will now be my daughter’s, I kept thinking that it was my husband’s childhood bedroom. How many nights did she spend rocking him to sleep, or holding him in her arms when he was sick? How many times did she kiss him goodnight and smile in the mornings, happy to see his face? How did she get through the teen-age years when he became insolent and asserted his independence, as all children must do in order to separate their identities from their parents?

The family room where everyone spent their time. Hard to believe a fireplace was so well-loved and often used in Phoenix. They loved their winter fires, long before burn restrictions were put into place because of the Valley's air quality issues.

Soon it will be our house and we will be making a safe haven for our children. History will repeat itself, only this time, if the walls could talk they would tell stories of my loved ones and not some unknown family or faceless generations. This is the way it used to be in America, but those days are long distant. It feels odd to be living what I consider to be a very untraditional lifestyle while embarking on a plan that is firmly rooted in history and family.

My mother-in-law has given me free rein to change the home to make it comfortable for us. We have wildly different tastes, with her being very traditional…dark woods, floral, cutesy country. My style is colorful and quirky. I like rust and raw edges. Recycled vintage paired with strong lines and…always, something completely unexpected and quirky thrown into the mix.

As I try to wrap my brain around these upcoming changes, I’m taking time to stop and smell the roses, literally, as she’s an incredible gardener. My new studio is going to be huge and comfortable. I can even hold intimate workshops in the space if I so desire. The view from my studio is all greenery and garden, a bit of life’s sweetness. Another new beginning…

Inspiritment; A Free Ebook

I mentioned last month that my friend Melissa Bolton had a wonderful idea where she asked a group of women to contribute to “Inspiritment; A Collection of Affirmations from the Web’s Most Inspiring Virtuosos.” She sent all the contributors a link today to the free ebook she’s compiled for women just starting out in business.

Inspiritment free ebook cover

I love, love, love this idea and am proud of Melissa for giving so generously of her time and talents to help women entrepreneurs. As I was reading through the book today, pleased to know almost every single contributor, I found myself being inspired by the words of 15 successful business women. Their encouraging words are truly spot on, and it’s once again, a reminder to me that I’m following my path and passion and doing exactly what I’m supposed to do with my life. It’s not always easy, and there are days when I get overwhelmed, particularly balancing work and motherhood. But then there are days that are just over-the-moon, where I get excited to check my email in the mornings because wonderful opportunities keep finding their way into my in-box.

That is how you know you are doing what you’re supposed to. You dream a dream, set your intentions and then work hard to put your authentic voice into the world so others can hear it and feel it. The Universe will ensure that not only is your voice heard, but that others will come into your life so things can happen to mutually benefit each other’s businesses. I believe in being about the love and keeping a positive attitude. A positive attitude and hard work, along with being grateful for what I create and receive are the tenets of my business.

Go check out Melissa’s wonderful ebook. You can get it at her business, Designer Brands. On a side note, I really like her design aesthetic. Her website is gorgeous!

Thankful for Editors

jewelry affaire cover spring 2012

One of the things I enjoy the most about being involved in the media and publishing for  many years is that I get to meet so many new people. My brain is trained to always be on the lookout for stories — people stories, feature stories, new trends, etc. Because I naturally do this, I’ve had the privilege of working with many editors of the top arts and crafts magazines over the years.

As I’ve delved deeper into my own mixed-media art career, I’ve found these women to be a constant source of inspiration and support to our art community as a whole. When I talk to them, they always say they’re “just doing their jobs,” but I always wonder if they realize how large their reach is and how influential they can be to people’s careers.  A few editors, like the incredible ladies at the Stampington publications, are so supportive of my work I honestly don’t have words to express my gratitude.

Beth Livesay, the ahhhhhmahhhhzing editor of Jewelry Affaire, showed her true spirit in spades with the newest Spring 2012 issue (on bookstands now) when she gave a glowing review of my book Explore, Create, Resinate. Not only did I wish to publically thank her for her beautiful words on my blog, I wanted to share with you all what she wrote:

“Jen Cushman is no stranger to the pages of this magazine. Her contributions to the world of jewelry and mixed-media have not gone unnoticed and her love affair with ICE Resin continually inspires. Complete with tips, tricks and explanations of how to work with photographs and findings, this book will make you want to add resin to everything. The chapter on making resin paper is especially cool. Jen’s passion for teaching and jewelry making shine through in this book full of fun and extraordinary creations that are unlike anything out there. ” — Review by Beth Livesay, Spring 2012 issue of Jewelry Affaire.

Thank you Beth. You made my month!

It’s an overwhelming feeling when people compliment my work. It’s also an incredible thing to see so many people being receptive  of Explore, Create, Resinate. While I wrote the book and did most of the photography, it’s important for me that people knowthe book is a collaboration of some of the most talented artistic women I know, including my business partner Susan Lenart Kazmer (who created ICE Resin) and our first “Dream Team” of designers; Kristen Robinson, Deryn Mentock, Barbe Saint John, Jane Salley and Kecia Deveney. While we’ve all gone on to do other things (though still making jewelry and teaching), my heart holds such a special place for each of these ladies for giving so generously of themselves and their talents to make my dream of writing a very special craft book unlike anything else on the market a reality. I feel like Beth’s review is a tribute to all of us.

It’s been over a year since we self-published and ECR seems to still be building in momentum. I know its through the support of our friends and the generosity of the mixed-media art community.

Explore Create Resinate Book review