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An Artist’s Heart

 

Coral heart rock my son found and gave to me

I’ve been exploring this idea in my studio the past few weeks; The Artist’s Heart is markedly different from the hearts of others. This is not a judgment call. I’m not saying in any way that artists’ hearts are better (or worse) than people who are say, doctors or lawyers or accountants. I’m simply saying, in a great big sweeping generalization, is that artists tend to hold their hearts as their emotional centers — looking at them as the genesis of their genius. There is no doubt by anyone who creates, or appreciates the arts, that art definitely comes from the heart. For me, the best work is not always the most technically perfect. I’m drawn to imagery and ideas that capture an emotion, an intangible feeling – or a tumbling of feelings - that takes me on a journey.

I have found that artists, again in general, are more sensitive than non-artists. More in touch with their emotions — more vulnerable. I  have come to believe it’s a genetically coded to see and feel the world differently than left brainers. I know that I grew up feeling different from the other kids. Silly things kids do, like stepping on an already wounded butterfly or making fun of someone who was nerdy or chubby or gay, would upset me so badly that I would come home from school and cry. I never just sat and cried. I worked out these emotions with my paints and crayons; I cried quietly as I drew. Even my childhood drawings were different because at a young age I put my heart into hands.

I know I’ve professed this about a zillion times, but  the heart shape is a personal Talisman. I see them everywhere; clouds, a leaf, rocks, cracks in the sidewalk, pieces of shell. I’ve been looking for a new shape, experimenting with hexagons and shields. I’m excited by the triangle, but it just doesn’t have anywhere near the comfort vibe for me that my faithful hearts give. While it still has the pointy bottom, there is something about the softly rounded humps on a heart that continue to inspire.

Original coral heart (top) along with an already cast piece in ICE Resin that's just waiting for surface application of color (left) and a finished pendant ready to be made into a necklace (right).

Original coral heart (top) along with an already cast piece in ICE Resin that’s just waiting for surface application of color (left) and a finished pendant ready to be made into a necklace (right).

I had a particularly rough week recently. Personal issues surrounding my aging parents and trying my best to take care of their needs despite a huge weight on my heart that feels and knows my options have narrowed. To counter balance the sadness, I went into my studio and found my small collection of heart rocks and crystals. My husband and children collect heart-shaped rocks and give them to me as love tokens. I save these as Talismans.

During Spring Break this year we took a Disney cruise. An offshore adventure at a beach in the Grand Caymens yielded the most amazing natural treasures. Gorgeous white coral and shells. My son found a piece of white coral in the shape of an asymmetrical heart with a natural vertical fissure in it. I tucked it into my bag, counting the moments I could get into my studio so I could mold and cast it. When we returned home, before I even unpacked our suitcases, I went immediately into my studio with my new treasure. I have no problem these days of waiting for my resin to dry, but not this time. I dreamt of the piece when I went to bed that night and woke up with no other thoughts on my mind but finishing it. I knew I needed copper to accentuate the red of the piece and a few rivets for more texture.

My original inspiration and the finished necklace.

My original inspiration and the finished necklace.

This little heart rock my son found and gave to me on our trip is now my literal touchstone. On days when I know I need a little extra positive energy, I either wear my necklace Talisman or slip the coral heart into my pocket. My plan is to cast at least 2 dozen of these rocks and turn them into necklaces this year. I know it’s not a perfect, smooth heart by any means, but I think my rock as a Talisman will intrigue others. For now, I cannot think of a better representation of my Artist Heart.

I’m gonna put on my, my, my boogie shoes

Remember last summer when ICE Resin and Susan Lenart Kamer participated in a celebrity gifting suite the Saturday before the 2013 Primetime Emmys? No worries if you don’t remember. I told you all about how the question of what to wear to the event came up almost immediately. My answer was to alter a pair of Steve Madden wedge shoes using Iced Enamels and ICE Resin — of course! — so I could be fashion forward and still comfortable at the same time. I think I showed a sneak peek of the shoes and then never got around to a full reveal. My bad!

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A little brag here, but my shoes really did turn out fab! All of the art techniques I had in my head translated beautifully to the heels. Iced Enamels worked like a dream as did my cute little heart bezel embellishments at the peekaboo toe cutout. I wore these shoes for the full 8 hours of the event. I even loved them so much that I wore them to a friend’s wedding a couple of weekends later. My Cold Enameled shoes have not chipped, or cracked or needed any repair at all. I think that’s pretty amazing.

Thrilled with the outcome, I sent an email to my favorite editor at Stampington & Co. Cynthia Levens in not only the editor of Belle Armoire Jewelry, but she also handles Belle Armoire and Altered Couture magazines (whew!) pitching an article on my Cold Enameled shoes. She liked the idea, so I sent them off to Southern California. They made it through art selection and I was asked to do a write up on them. Most magazines are working six to eight months ahead. That means the issue of Altered Couture with my shoes is just now available for pre-order. I received the Creative Impulse newsletter this morning and, viola! a picture of the spread is part of the issue’s sneak peek:

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Take a look at the entire sneak peak of the upcoming Summer 2014 issue. That altered denim skirt is so stinking cute. I want to make one…if only I could sew.

Since I never did do a full reveal of my shoes on my blog, here are some pics of them that I took. The magazine article teaches you exactly how to achieve the same look. And remember, you can Cold Enamel canvas sneakers just as easily as you can do high heels! Come on and join me. Let’s make some fun and festive boogie shoes!

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My Talisman Word for 2014

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New Year’s resolutions are just too hard to keep. Like most people, my good intentions the first week of January quickly go out the window long before Valentine’s Day. So when I saw a group of scrapbooker start word of the year projects a while back I, too, decided to skip the whole resolution idea and instead focus on a power word for myself for the year. Being a wordsmith, I responded well to this idea and have incorporated it into my life for past five years now.

Picking my power word is a process of reflection that usually happens the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I tend to go over the big events of the past year in my mind’s eye. I think about all the things I’m truly grateful for and send this love and gratitude into the Universe. I also think about what I’d like to accomplish in the next year and write down a list of goals in one of my art journals. Then I pick a word that helps me set my intention for the year. A word that sums up what I hope to accomplish on an individual level and also in my career. For 2013 my word was “Focus.” As you know, there’s a lot going on right now with ICE Resin. My word was appropriate because last year was another huge building block year for our company.

Jen Cushman Talisman necklace

I thought really long and hard about my word for 2014. I thought about the things I love in my life, the challenges I’d like to address and what I want to draw more to me. I’ve been working so much that I really miss spending time with friends and family. My girlfriends have been patient the past couple of years as I’ve been running too hard and fast to get together. I want to make more time for personal connections and real intimacy with the people. On a business level, I’d like to start working a bit more with other likeminded companies and other artists. Being asked to participate in Seth Apter’s book last year was really enjoyable because it made me feel part of a community rather than always working along in my studio/home office. What I want to draw to me in 2014 is to once again feel this strong sense of community the mixed-media art world offers. My word for 2014 is “Collaborate“.

To that end, I made a necklace using ICE Resin, Iced Enamels, our fab Art Mechanique Hobnail Oval. Since hearts are still a huge symbol in my life, I hand-formed a Paperclay heart and painted it with acrylic paints. That gorgeous texture you see was made by adding delicious Relique German Silver on the surface and then a coat of ICE Resin for permanent color.

I hope you read more about our Talisman project over on the ICE Queen blog. There you will learn about the project, who is participating and how you can get involved if you wish. I’m truly hoping this will resonate with you as an artist and that you take the time to make your own power necklace this year. After all, it would be an awesome thing for us to collaborate on!

Here's a selfie of me wearing my new power necklace. Yep, lovin' the red. When it comes to your chakras in the body, red is your base chakra and it represents you family and tribe.

Here’s a selfie of me wearing my new power necklace. Yep, lovin’ the red. When it comes to the body’s  chakras, red is the base chakra and it represents your family and tribe. A great power color and also goes well with my 2014 Talisman word of “Collaborate”.

Hot 20 inspiration necklace

 

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If you’ve been following our ICE Queen eZine or any of our social media channels for Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin, you know by now that Iced Enamels was named one of the Hot 20 products of the CHA Winter 2014 show. We were so excited when we receive the email in December announcing the win, and then all the details of how we had to keep the secret until right up to the Friday evening event when the news was announced before members of the press, craft bloggers, designers and buyers. A representative from each manufacturer was given the opportunity to give a 60 second elevator speech letting folks know why the products are awesome. Here I am explaining that Iced Enamels rock because they allow for the look of torch-fired and kiln-fired glass enamels without the use of a 1400+ degree heat.

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As part of the Hot 20, we were upgraded to a large space pedestal on the show floor in the Innovations Showcase, which was pretty awesome in itself. On display was a statement necklace piece I made using a cold enameling ombre technique to get this graduated color in our Relique enameling colors starting with Relique Ivory at the top and then working down to the debut of our new Garnet color on the bottom. The brass shapes are our Geometric Shapes from our Art Mechanique Silhouettes. To add extra bling, I did some ombre bead work with crystals on 18 gauge wire that I did the technique of drawing a bead on the ends of the wire and then hammered flat.

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All of the Hot 20 displays in the CHA Innovations Showcase are heading to Germany. They will be on display at the Paperworld trade show in Frankfurt this coming weekend. I can’t wait to see how the Europeans respond.  Here are some pics of the display on the CHA show floor and also the full piece that I took photos of in my studio before I left for Anaheim. Just as an aside, I made a sketch of this necklace in November, and kept dreaming about it until I finally found the time to get it made. It came out exactly like I saw it in my head. As an artist, it’s always so cool when that happens!  I hope you find a little bit of inspiration in the piece.

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Hot 20 Iced Enamels 

Some CHA pics and wrap up

Susan Lenart Kazmer and myself in front of our ICE Resin booth CHA Winter 2014.

Susan Lenart Kazmer and myself in front of our ICE Resin booth CHA Winter 2014.

The Craft and Hobby Winter 2014 trade show and convention was a whirlwind, as always. I’ve nicknamed this show my annual “corporate dog years convention” because we do five or six months of work crammed into 5 days. There are so many things I absolutely love about CHA every year. The top one being that I get to see so many of my friends. I love being in the company of wildly creative people and get so inspired seeing all the artwork they’ve made as samples for various manufacturers, as well as the creative outfits and jewelry they’ve put together to represent themselves and their brand at CHA.

There was some amazing behind-the-scenes business relationships that were established for me and Susan and ICE Resin this show that I can’t talk about yet, but that will be keeping me busy the next few months. I’m squealing inside when I think about how these opportunities are going to fling us even deeper into the growth we’ve been expecting and working so hard for. What I can share though is that Iced Enamels was named one of the Hot 20 products of this Winter CHA show. As part of that recognition, I gave a quick 60 second presentation to buyers, bloggers and other media the Friday evening before the show began to tell everyone exactly how revolutionary our cold enameling program really is. It was a little crazy at the time because Susan was at the other end of the Anaheim Convention Center teaching her Artisan Workshop during the exact same time as our Hot 20 presentation.

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The honor definitely helps create a little more buzz for us on the show floor. Our booth is usually packed each year, but this show in particular was busy as people came to see our constant Iced Enamels demos. Some of the incredible artists from our 2014 Creative Team ( and one from our 2013 team Susan Walls) were helping us out working their fingers to the bones with demos, demos and more demos. Thanks Jamie Dougherty, John Petersen, Tatiana Allen and Candy Rosenberg for the 2014 team, Susan Walls from 2013 and our amazing Designer friends Vicki O’Dell and the totally fab-u-lous Suze Weinberg!

This show also proved 2014 is going to be the year for Rue Romantique by Kristen Robinson. All new packaging and brand new styles of backless bezels designed by Kristen were hot, hot, hot! People could not get enough of her workshop, demos and designs!

Here we are with our respective books. Jen Cushman, Making Metal Jewelry; Susan Lenart Kazmer, Resin Alchemy and Kristen Robinson, Making Etched Metal Jewelry. What a trio!

Here we are with our respective books. Jen Cushman, Making Metal Jewelry; Susan Lenart Kazmer, Resin Alchemy and Kristen Robinson, Making Etched Metal Jewelry. What a trio!

In addition to our ICE Resin company business, Susan, Kristen and myself all had book signings at the F&W booth. People were lined up to get signed copies, and it was awesome to talk to folks who are true fans of ICE Resin and all of our jewelry designs. It’s a pretty incredible feeling to know people are reading, seeing and finding value in our creative work. I did have one humorous comment during my book signing from someone who follows my blog and Facebook. “What Jen, no new book this year?” I had to laugh because Making Metal Jewelry just came out January of 2013. Knowing how much I publish, she really expected a brand new release. I laughed and told her a new one is in the works, but that it’s still a year away from release.

Every year at CHA we do a team dinner at Buco di Beppo where we bring in some form of mustaches. We started this five years ago as a lark before mustaches reached the trend they are today as an ice breaker and to get the party and socializing rolling. It’s now become our thing. Dear Kristen is over the mustache trend, but I just can’t seem to let it go. Our sweet friend and Booth Manager Misty Grosse is the one who found the handlebar mustache straws for us to use this year. Last year, it was stickers and we placed them all over the pictures in the walls of the Pope room. The cutest thing is our waiter this year was the same as last year and he even still had the ‘stash sticker on his holder where the bill goes. He was so thrilled to see us again, but sad that we had gone to straws and that he couldn’t collect a new sticker. Now that’s staying power and a testament to our craziness.

Mustaches at Buco 1

Mustaches at Bupo 2

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My absolute favorite moment this year was getting to meet Rupert Boneham, one of the most popular players ever on Survivor. My husband and I are HUGE Survivor fans. When I heard that ilovetocreate hired Rupert this year as their national spokesman for their tie-dye line, all I could think of was brilliant! I want to know who thought of that idea and I would like to hire that marketing person to work with ICE Resin. Susan and I were invited to the ilovetocreate party (which was awesome with a massage therapist and makeovers and gourmet popcorn and even a professional photographer to take new blog headshots) Saturday evening. I was sooooo hoping Rupert would show up, and he did. Not only did I get to get have my picture taken with him, but since the party was quiet at first because it was at the same time as a huge blogger event, me and Rupert grabbed a drink and sat down to talk about Survivor and Life. One of the things I adore about him so much is that you can tell he is all about his family. In this aspect, he reminds me of my husband. Just a good, solid man and human being. We had a very real and authentic conversation and I’ll remember it for a long time. Thanks, Rupert for just being you!

Me and Rupert, my favorite Survivor player ever!

Me and Rupert, my favorite Survivor player ever!

Here are a few more pics from CHA…

My dear friend Debbie Cole and me getting ready for our joint demo at the Makerspace Theater. This was a collaboration to show how incredible Stampendous stamps work with ICE Resin and our Art Mechanique and Rue Romantique bezels. Debbie totally rocked her art samples. We had a great time doing a 45 minute class showing all kinds of advanced techniques.

My dear friend Debbie Cole and me getting ready for our joint demo at the Makerspace Theater. This was a collaboration to show how incredible Stampendous stamps work with ICE Resin and our Art Mechanique and Rue Romantique bezels. Debbie totally rocked her art samples. We had a great time doing a 45 minute class showing all kinds of advanced techniques.

Anthony Ryan Auld from another one of my most fav television shows, Project Runway. He is a spokesman for the brand new Scan and Cut machine from Brother. Both Anthony and the new machine ROCK!

Anthony Ryan Auld from another one of my most fav television shows, Project Runway. He is a spokesman for the brand new Scan and Cut machine from Brother. Both Anthony and the new machine ROCK!

The wickedly-talented and ever charming Suze Weinberg. She LOVES using ICE Resin in her art jewelry.

 

Resin, Wire and Paper; a beautiful combination

I’ve been making sculptural wire forms for my jewelry and mixed-media for a while now, so I decided it was high time to teach a workshop on the techniques. I have been smitten by the transformation paper undergoes since the first moment I learned how to make resin paper from Susan years and years ago. I’ve talked about this moment many times. It truly was like the Heavens opened up so new Art Muses could take my hands and lead me down an entirely new path of work. I have experimented with every type, shape, size and kind of paper over the years. We’ll be working with a dozen more of my tried and true favs during our time together. If you’re interested in this process at all and plan to be in Tucson for the Gem Show, please take a look at my class. We’ll be at the To Bead True Blue Show Feb. 2- 10, 2014. As always, I take all those experimentations in my studio — all the fails and successes — and develop workshops for my students so its guaranteed success with none of the heartache. I like to tell my students I always ask myself “What if?” so you don’t have to. (grin)

With three hours together, you will definitely be able to make multiple pairs of earrings. Or you can make one pair of earrings and use the rest of your time to make a pendant or focals for other pieces of work. While I always put together project-based classes for people who wish to walk out with a completed art project, I work space for play and experimentation in my teaching style so people leave with pieces that express their individual expression.

Come join me. Learn how to take humble materials like this:

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to this:

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Tucson registration open

If you adore making jewelry then you know that Tucson, Arizona is the place to be in February with all the shows that pop up in hotels and tents from one end of town to the other. I’ll be teaching ICE Resin, metalworking and mixed-media jewelry workshops again this year at the To Bead True Blue show. Susan is teaching some killer enameling workshops this year where students will not only play with both hot and cold enameling, but will also create Talisman shapes that will be the base for color. Linda McNulty, Susan’s sister and an amazing encaustic artist, is teaching encaustic jewelry techniques that can be translated to all mixed-media from collage and assemblage to jewelry. Kristen Robinson is also at the show teaching how to make some of the loveliest adornments using her Rue Romantique line.

Jen Cushman Breaking Out of the Bezel

One of my brand new workshops for 2014 that I’m really excited about is Breaking Out of the Bezel. You know how much I love making molds from found objects and casting them in ICE Resin. While it’s been awesome to see my students walk out with so many cool components to use in their work, I decided it was time to take the workshop up a notch and teach some intermediate to advanced resin techniques to create truly unique and dimensional finished works of wearable art. I am seriously so jazzed about this workshop that February can’t get here quickly enough!

I’ll be talking about and showing art samples of all my Tucson workshops on my blog over the next few days. However, I wanted to start getting the word out that registration is going on now. We’ve set a smaller student number on workshops so be sure to take a look. If you’re interested, I suggest you go ahead and sign up rather than waiting. When they’re filled, they’re gone.

Here’s wishing you a joyous weekend! I’m sure most of you are attending holiday parties or involved in family events, as I am. This means no time in the studio for real work, but it’s OK. Tis’ the season!

Thankful Chicken Candy Necklace

Jen Cushman Candy Turkey Resin Necklace

Thankful ChickenWhen I picked my daughter up from preschool on Monday, she was so happy to show me the picture she made for us. “Mama, mama,” she said patting my arm to get my attention because I was talking to her teacher. “I made you and daddy a Thankful Chicken!” I couldn’t help but breaking into a huge grin because she seriously says the cutest things. Her teacher immediately corrected her to say it was a Thanksgiving turkey, but secretly I thought she was more brilliant than all the other kids in her class because it was indeed a very happy and very thankful chicken. Now that’s art!

A few weeks ago, I was shopping for some artisan bakery items for a girlfriends get together when I found these adorable candy turkeys. The head baker had just made them and packaged them up. Not sure if you know this, but I’ve been embedding candy into ICE Resin for a long time now. I’ve also covered Peeps in it at Easter, lips and hearts at Valentine’s Day, candy monsters for Halloween and sweet shoppe Snowmen for Christmas. This is my first turkey though.

Because I’m so thankful I get to live every day of my life as a working artist, writer, business woman and instructor, I thought it might be fun to share a little stepped-out tutorial on how I repurposed candy into a wearable holiday-themed art necklace. Of course, just as this little guy from A.J’s Fine Food Market in Phoenix, Arizona created by an unknown food artisan is no longer a cupcake topper, my necklace is not really a turkey. In honor of my smart, creative, miracle baby girl, whom I’m also so grateful for, this necklace is titled “Thankful Chicken.”

Candy turkeys

Step one: Prepare your work surface by having your candy items ready on a non stick craft mat. You can use a plastic trash bag (the heavy kind, not a grocery bag), but I prefer a silicone mat because the resin won’t stick to it and because it’s surface is completely smooth so the dried resin peels right up.

Turkey Necklace  Step 2

Mix up ICE Resin according to the directions and use a disposable paint brush to paint a layer of ICE all over the candy piece -  front, back, sides and bottom. Set aside 6-10 hours to dry.

When the resin-covered candy is dry to the touch, drill a hole into for attachment. For less dense candies, you can use a sharp-pointed awl in most cases if you don’t have a drill. I have my flex shaft always at the ready on my workbench, so it’s quickest for me to use my drill.

Turkey necklace step 3

Now comes the fun part. Add beads to your candy to turn it into jewelry. I drew a bead on the end of a piece of 20-gauge bronze wire and then threaded on two small spacer beads and a larger crystal rondelle bead. Then I put the “resinated” chicken (turkey) on it. I added another spacer bead and a red crystal and then made a wirewrap loop.

Turkey necklace step 5

To finish it off, I pulled some Industrial Chic by Susan Lenart Kazmer chain from my stash and made a necklace. Since I wanted it on the longer side, I didn’t worry about a clasp. The necklace slips easily on and off over my head.

Turkey necklace step 5

All that is left it to wear a complimentary top for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner with my large extended family. When we go around the table like we always do to say what we’re thankful for, I will be answering my family, my work, my friends and my new chicken.

Turkey necklace finished

Here’s wishing you an AMAZING Thanksgiving and a truly artful long holiday weekend.

A Rue Christmas

I hope you’ve been enjoying the Rue Romantique Holiday Blog Hop and the beautiful things showcased yesterday by Kristen Robinson, Jen Crossley, Cindy Cima Edwards and Cindy Bisson. If you missed it, be sure to catch up (links at bottom of this post).  Today’s hop is brought to you today courtesy of Lexi Grenzer, Pamela Hungtinton, Susan Walls and yours truly.

I adore Kristen Robinson’ romantic look when it comes to her jewelry and mixed-media. I’m always captivated by the Victorian-inspired bezels in Kristen’s gorgeous Rue Romantique line with ICE Resin. One would think this line would be artistically challenging for me, as I tend to fall more on the “Bohemian artsy” aesthetic with my work rather than the beautifully polished, but the undulating lines and feminine shapes in Rue always speak to the part of me that loves to dress up for date night with my hubby and wander the aisles of Sephora looking at makeup palettes and pretty packaging.

When it came time to do our ICE Resin Rue Romantique Ornament blog hop, I knew I wanted a part of it. Mostly because Kristen is one of my dearest friends and I’m hugely supportive of her work and career, but also because I wanted to see if I could put my own twist on Victorian Christmas. I wanted to create a substantial piece, incorporate some of my ICE Resin casting work and use Iced Enamels. Naturally, The Relique Ivory and Glitz powders are wonderful with Rue.

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The resin casting is from an ornamental hardware piece that I picked up at a Paris flea market last year. I have made at least two dozen of these castings for various projects and have brought the object to my workshops. It’s a favorite of my students as well. The finely detailed metalwork in the hardware creates such gorgeous undercuts that it’s one of those ” wow” factor objects for resin casting. I melted Iced Enamels on the casting and then added some Gilder’s Paste in German Silver for the final vintage-looking patina.

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I used Relique Ivory on the center focal of the bezel and then stamped on it using Kristen’s Love Lines stamp set that she created with Stampington & Co. I sealed that in ICE Resin. To tie the silver of the bezel into the vintage patina of the casting, I also rubbed a little German Silver Gilder’s Paste onto it.

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To attach the two pieces together, I threaded Kristen’s beautiful red velvet and red organza ribbon through the center holes and tied at the top. A wire wrap in 22 gauge blackened steel wire from Art Mechanique reinforces the tie for strength and works as a design element. To create a hanger, I added a wirewrapped loop to the top of the casting.

While the piece was pretty, I felt like it was too pretty and needed something more. I searched through my stash for this large crystal drop from Connie Crystal and did a chunky, organic wirewrap to gives this part of the piece my touch of a messy, bird’s nest type of feel. If you’ve taken any classes from me or read my books or articles, you’ll know that one of the ways you can always identify my work is that there’s always a touch of chaos or wildness in my pieces.

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The piece ended up being a rather large ornament. I can see it on a big tree that’s taking center stage in the ballroom of an old Southern mansion. If you don’t happen to live in a 17- bedroom house, I think it would be lovely to use as a holiday home décor piece.

Here’s some more exciting news, Kristen and ICE Resin have teamed up with Interweave to create an exclusive Handmade Ornament Kit, which included Kristen’s DVD Romantic Bezels, her brand new book Making Etched Metal Jewelry, along with Rue Romantique bezels, Iced Enamels in Relique German Silver and more. Here’s more information to check it out.

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I hope you found this inspirational. Be sure to check out all the amazing artists from the ICE Resin 2013 Creative Team on our ICE Queen eZine company blog to see what beautiful things they’ve made this holiday season with Rue.  Also, be sure to come back to the company blog tomorrow as Lesley Venable, JoMama Jones, Sandy Martin and Susan Weckesser are rounding out the 3-days hop with some gorgeous designs.

Here’s links to the hop:

You can look forward to these ornaments:
Saturday, Nov. 9
Sunday, Nov. 10

Handmade Holidays Blog Hop – My Turn!

Christmas Tree with Handmade Holiday Charms Jen Cushman

As promised, today is my turn for the Handmade Holidays Blog Hop. There are LOTS of amazing artists participating today, so you’re in for a treat — a grand finale of crafty goodness! My project today is a petite Christmas tree trimmed in 19 handmade ornament charms and a sweet little tree topper that I cast in ICE Resin.

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Before I had my daughter 4 years ago, I was a traditionalist when it came to my holiday home decor. Red and Green all the way. Having a daughter has changed me in so many ways, but the one thing I notice in my work now is that I’m attracted to pink. I thought it would be really fun to deck out a small table top tree that I bought from Michaels using a 50% off coupon with a non-traditional girlie holiday of Pink and Green and Ivory color scheme. Of course, I had to incorporate lots of rhinestone chain and also some fun crystals using Norma Rapko’s brand new fab tool the Crystyler. I now enjoy hand-setting crystals because of Norma’s tool. Before that… Meh, it was wayyyyyy too much work to incorporate pave-type settings into my jewelry.

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I used the Silhouettes from the Art Mechanique line along with Iced Enamels and ICE Resin. Of course, I had to collage some of our Susan Lenart Kazmer signature Hobnail bezels from Art Mechanique. I incorporated wire work into the charms by creating the ornament hangers, as well as adding some crystal beads and crystal rondelles. For those of you who know me, you know I love love love making molds of found objects and doing ICE Resin castings for my mixed-media and jewelry work. The techniques for this can be found in Breaking out of the Mold, my DVD from Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine that released in March. I knew my little tree needed a handmade topper, and since my daughter inspired the project, I simply had to cast a Snow Baby. The glittery snow that’s peeking out from the piece is our new Art Mechanique Fire Opal inclusions. It catches the light so beautifully when embedded in ICE.

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To make these charms, you will need:

To make things easy, I made a little video tutorial showing how to use Iced Enamels and our brass number charms.

For the larger ornament shown below, I layered these numbers on top of our circle and diamond charm after cold enameling all the components and using ICE Resin as a “glue” (just laying the numbers on the charms while the resin was wet). I added a dot of sparkle with the Crystyler. Once the charms were dry, I then cold connected them to a metal filigree piece I had in my studio with wirewrapped loops. The metal hanger was made from 20 gauge bronze wire attached with wrapped loops on each side and then formed into a three-quarters circle with my fingers. If you’re wondering why I used the number 24, rather than 25 it’s because when I was a child, my dad worked Christmas day so Christmas Eve was always what I looked most forward to.

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If you are not someone who makes jewelry, you can still do this project by attaching jump rings to the enameled charms and then attaching to pre-purchased ornament hooks. These charms can be used in a multitude of ways for the holidays. You can make wine charms, advent calendars, gift tags or even necklaces for your girlfriends and family members. I hope you give Iced Enamels and ICE Resin a try if you haven’t used it before. The art possibilities are endless and the products are, honestly, addicting!

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Ok, now for the giveaway on my blog. Be sure to leave a comment and one lucky handmade holiday elf will win a copy of my mold making and casting DVD, an ICE Resin plunger and a Hobnail bezel to get him or her started.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Handmade Holidays Blog Hop 2013 Logo

Be sure to hop on over too all these amazing blogs today. I can’t wait to see what some of my über talented friends are up to!

November 3: