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The Mixed Media Artist, a new book!

MixedMediaArtist CoverThe sweet, kind, funny and über talented Seth Apter revealed today on his blog the artists featured in his brand new book. I am so jazzed to let you all know that I’m one of those artists in The Mixed Media Artist: Art Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Dreams from Over 40 Amazing Artists, available here at Amazon. As part of his book launch publicity, Seth is doing a thing on his blog called 30 Artists in 30 days, where each of us get to take a turn in his blog hop. I’ll be posting later in the month. I hoping to get a little video done for my day showing some of the techniques I used to create the pieces of art for his book. I’ll also be doing a giveaway of my book Making Metal Jewelry on the day of the hop as well, so be sure to keep an eye on my blog for the deets.

I have to tell you that when the loooonnnnggg questionnaire from Seth came in last year for this project, I was a little intimidated by all the amazing and well, kind of personal, questions he asked. After reading through it a couple of times, I decided I was just going to take a deep breath and go for it. I wanted to answer them as honestly and “off the cuff” as I could. I know Seth well enough to know that it’s important for him to get to the truth of matters and to really talk about art and its power to change the world in a myriad ways. It’s one of the reasons I respect him so much. I’m a little nervous — and excited — to see myself in his incredible book. More than anything, I can’t wait to read about the other artists’ processes and see how they chose to answer the Q&A.

For now, if you haven’t already, take a little jump over to Seth’s post to learn more about the artists involved and what his fabulous plans are.

Happy Friday everyone! Thanks so much for all of you who checked out my blog and took the time to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about what kind of jewelry they like or want to make. I also want to give a shout out to Kristal for taking the time to tell such a sweet story about why elephants are a sacred talisman for her. It really touched my soul. I truly believe every human being in the world has a story to tell, and that its through the sharing and telling of stories that we connect with each other on a deeper level. I also want to send a quick thanks to our amazing ICE Resin Creative Team members who shared my giveaway on their Facebook pages — Jen Crossley, Cindy Cima Edwards, Lexi Grenzer and Pamela Huntington. These ladies inspire my soul with their gorgeous creations and I’m so blessed to call them friends.

So the winner of an autographed copy of my book is Yoli! Sent to my blog for the first time from Lexi. As you can see, I used randomnumbergenerator.com and the winner was 22. I counted backwards in the order they appear  from the first person to comment to the last one. Yoli, I sent you an email and need your address. For those of you who didn’t win, keep an eye out on the ICE Queen eZine (our company blog). I will be sprinkling signed book giveaways here on my blog and also there on the company one too. To learn about it, be sure to read the blog and “like” our ICE Resin Facebook page.

random number generator

Happy Hump Day Giveaway

new metalsmithing bookI woke up on the sunny side of the street today after a terrible stress headache that lasted all day yesterday. There are times when all the different things we’re juggling in the air will collide on the same day and then all I want is to crawl back into bed and fast forward to another day. Luckily, the yucky headachy days are few and far between. Anyhoo…..since I am HAPPY, happy, happy today and because I have NOT been able to get my website re-done as of yet with the back-to-back shows, I decided it was time to finally do a book giveaway on my blog.

If you’ve been reading and following my journey, you know that Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Form, Forge and Fold Metal Jewelry Designs is out in major bookstores now. (Yippee!) It’s also available on Amazon. But in order to get a signed copy, you gotta come to me. So, please leave a comment about….hmmmmmm…let’s go with a broad category of jewelry. Tell me what is your favorite kind of jewelry, or what you wish your sweetheart would buy you, or what pieces you long to create, or if you already have my book what project is your favorite one. All I’m looking for is something fun to read about one of my favorite art subjects — Jewelry!

Not only will you get a signed copy of the book, but you will also get an ICE Resin plunger and some of our Art Mechanique cold connection micro nuts and screws. I will keep the giveaway up until Friday morning 8 a.m. MST. And never fear, if you don’t win this one, there will be another give away soon over on the ICE Queen eZine while we are teaching workshops at the To Bead True Blue show in Tucson.

Hot off the press, literally….

making metal jewelry

Advance copies are here!

Look at the photo my super-fabulous-amazing editor Tonia Jenny sent me. Earlier today, FedEx delivered two advance copies of my new book — one for her and one for me. Luckily, I live only about 3 miles from Tonia so I drove over to her house to collect my copy. My sweet and silly friend made the suspense extra special for me by gift wrapping them. Here’s a little video of my first reaction of seeing all those months and months of work come to final completion.

To be clear, these are advance copies that were delivered by air from the printing plant in Hong Kong. The remaining copies — the ones that have been pre-ordered — are getting loaded onto a boat today in China and being shipped to the U.S. for distribution to everyone on Dec. 13th. That is the date I’ll be getting the remainder of my author copies. By then I plan to update my website with an all-new shopping cart so I can sell autographed copies of both Making Metal Jewelry and Explore, Create, Resinate.

On my to-do wish list is to also photograph and sell some pieces of jewelry that I have in my studio. I have been very slow to get an Etsy store going as an artist, as I’ve spent the better part of the past four years making work for publication and only selling them during the artist vendor nights at the events where I’m teaching. Things just take time, and definitely more time that you ever originally plan for.

The great thing is that today reminded me that the odds of me reaching my dreams are definitely stacked in my favor. Success takes hard work and focus. It also takes a certain amount in faith to believe that if you truly follow your natural talents and passions, you will be led to the people, place, events and opportunities that make it all come together. Right now this means my latest book. Honestly, how cool is that?!?

More Moving and a Sneak Peek

Life has been busy the past few weeks with the impending move. I’ve spent the better part of this past week purging and packing my studio. It’s been an interesting outer and inner excavation as I go through my boxes and stuff, accessing if I will ever truly have to time to make X, Y or Z art project that I envisioned for the corresponding object(s).

I think being a mixed-media artist automatically means I’m a hoarder of unusual stuff. One of my favorite ways to spend free time is to scour thrift stores and garage sales treasure hunting for interesting items that I can re-purpose from their worn out and “worthless” state into something unexpected and creative. I know I’m not alone in this obsession, as I have met so many women and men at art retreats across the county who share my affliction. I’ll be thrift shopping and spot something and think, “Oohhhhh this is going to make a fabulous light fixture or assemblage or whatever.” I take it home and do my best to strike while the idea is fresh. However, writing the book and all of the other things we have going on with ICE Resin has put a serious dent in my free time, so I’m unearthing too many unrealized art projects these past few days.

Making Metal Jewelry book photo

Since I’m not quite ready to put photos of my studio in its chaotic, moving state on my blog, I thought it might be fun to every once in a while publish a sneak peek photo of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry. It’s still in the last of the design phase right now. My editor tells me I will have final author review of it next week and then…off to the printers. The date it will be in bookstores across the county is Dec. 13th. Again, Lucky 13!

This little pendant pictured here is one of the “filler” pieces I made. When the writing is done, all the photos are taken and the book is finally laid out in its “thumbnail” format, there will be some holes that need to be filled. It’s up to the author and the editor to decide what to do. I was fortunate that I only had three holes for the entire book, so I quickly whipped out a few “variations” on the main projects to give readers additional design options.

There are a few things I love about this little pendant. First, I made the decision to not flux my sterling silver wire when drawing a bead. Flux helps wire form perfect little balls when dipped into hot flame. However, I really like the reticulation holes and dents made during the melting process so I rarely take the extra few seconds to apply flux. The other thing is that I made the bead caps larger than the crystal focal bead and only lightly dapped the discs. This gives the piece an asymmetrical look and allows the discs to spin, rather than tightly cup the bead.

I don’t mention any of this in the book because it doesn’t seem relevant, but it’s fun to talk about here. I know from my years of profiling artists, I was always interested in their process and why they made the artistic decisions they did. What I learned is that while many artists work intuitively, there is always a measure of control, or a purpose when it comes to utilizing a particular technique. I find the same to be true in my own work.

Next week, I’ll be in the “new” old house. My computer will be down for a few days because hubby is taking this opportunity to back up my hard drive and wipe it clean. A digital fresh start. I’ll be out of sight, out of mind for a while on the blog.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful week (or two) until I see you again.

Studio Solitude

beautiful typography

I’m back into the studio for a few days finishing up some variation pieces for my book. My editor has gone through and organized the book and done a thumbnail layout so it can go to design. It’s during this process when the book comes together with the visuals and the text that you find out where the “holes” are, meaning blank pages or blank half pages etc. that needs to be filled in. The easiest and most sensible things to fill these few editorial holes with are inspirational (beauty) photos to show alternatives or variations in design of the techniques being taught or explained in the book.

I have a list of three projects that I need to make some variations for, which is what’s up next for me to do as soon as I finish checking and responding to emails and updating my blog. The hardest part about this process for me has not been anything to do with the book, but rather having so many things going on behind the scenes that I have nothing I can really show you guys on my blog. In the world of social media where information is instantaneous, it’s terribly hard to write “I’ve been busy for months on end working on wonderful things…I promise to show you soon”. (grin)

This is why I used the photo above saying Forget about the jewels and gems. But only for now, just for a little while longer until I can start showing and talking about the end result, rather than the process.

I’m off now to the solitude of my studio to make some more metal jewelry. The pickle is warming up in the crock pot and my torch is waiting patiently for me to anneal some metal. Nothing else to say except to wish you all a very Artful day!

My book cover!

new metalsmithing book

Here is the very first peek of the cover of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry, due out December 13 by North Light Books. I know what my family and friends are getting for Christmas this year. (grin)

Seriously, it is such a big thing to write a book. It’s an honor, a chore (at times), a thrill, a fear, an exploration, an inner excavation and dozens of other emotions all wrapped together like a giant ball of string!

Tomorrow I will get my first glimpse of the entire book with my author review pages. I need to make the edits and answer all my editor’s questions by Friday so that’s what I’m doing the rest of the week. After that, design happens and it gets wrapped up pretty quickly.

I’ll share more as I can. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

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

More on Step by Step

I spent two days last week starting the step-out photos of my book. I know it’s shocking, but I’m doing things a little differently than the norm. Rather than going to North Light Books photo studio in Cincinnati for a week, I’m meeting with my editor in Phoenix to do the shoot.

Behind the scenes of a book photo shoot

Me and Tonia going over one of the projects after a full day of shooting

My dear friend and co-worker, Carol LaValley is shooting my step-by-step pictures. It’s familiar territory for us, since last winter we were working together to do the same thing with Explore, Create, Resinate. She did such a fabulous job that I saw no reason to not work together again. I’m thankful my editor Tonia Davenport is so open and willing to allow experimentation. In many ways, the process is more difficult because we don’t have the fancy, fully equipped photo studio to work in, but all of us being located in the same place seems to make up for the rest.

We worked two days straight last week and got a little less than halfway done. Next week, we’re back at it to finish up. It’s not difficult to do per say, but it does take time to record all that information both in photography and written form. All steps and directions are checked and re-checked to ensure readers are getting 100% accuracy, and that’s a good thing.

I’m still writing for the next few weeks. After that, the manuscript goes to Tonia for editing and the photos begin the design process. The cover is being designed as I write this, and its coming along beautifully.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance my regular work duties with writing the book, along with social media, class proposals and my columns, not to mention my son’s Spring Break right around the corner. Frankly, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. I’m at the point where I’m going to have use that big, nasty word – NO – pretty soon.

Do you ever feel this way?

Time to unplug, turn off the phone, let the world do its thing while I finish the task at hand. Why is this so hard?