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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.

Shout out to B’Sue

 

Detail shot of my Textured Circles necklace from my book Making Metal Jewelry.

Detail shot of my Textured Circles necklace from my book Making Metal Jewelry.

Just a quick post today as it’s my mother’s birthday and we have a fun day of lunch, shopping and a movie ahead of us. I wanted to give a public shout out to my friend Brenda Sue Lansdown, the owner of B’Sue Boutiques.

I met Brenda Sue just over two years ago when a friend of mine told me about her fab online jewelry supply store. I was in desperate need of some hard-to-find brass charms and chain for a workshop I was teaching. I was frantic because my supplier went out of business. I called Brenda Sue on the phone and we had the most amazing conversation. Our connection was so instant, it felt like I had rediscovered an old friend after 20 minutes.

I’ve continued to buy from Brenda Sue for my kit supplies. I also took the time to learn about her background in the jewelry making biz and found her story inspiring. She even helped to illustrate a recent business advice column of mine in Belle Armoire Jewelry. She recently bought a signed copy of my book Making Metal Jewelry, and today she did a review of it on her blog. She wrote such a great review that I had to give her a great big shout out for her support!

Here’s the thing about B’Sue. She’s all about her customers and she tells it like it is. If she doesn’t like a new product — even if it’s been developed by a fellow artist friend — she will not recommend it. People know that when she gets behind something, she’s put it through the paces and believes in it. She has a great reputation in the jewelry community. To know that she liked my book and found the advice helpful, honestly, means a lot to me.

Also, this is a good time to tell you about her community of peeps to love to make jewelry and share their experiments, triumphs and failures with their work. If you are new to making jewelry, the B’Sue Boutiques Creative Group on Facebook  is a great online place to connect with other people who are more than happy to answer questions and share. I try to pop in whenever I can.

Textured Circles and Creativity

Textured and enamels bracelet by Jen Cushman

Textured Circles is one of the workshops I’m teaching this year. I designed this workshop as I was writing my book, Making Metal Jewelry, because I’m wanting to teach some beginning metalworking classes that are fun and simple, but absolutely in line with the fundamentals one needs to learn when first starting to work with metal.

I’ve thought a lot about the silversmithing instruction I received at my community college. My instructor – a 4th generation goldsmith – developed his classes using the exact same learning methods that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather employed. Not that there is anything wrong being a purist, in my humble opinion, other than it sucks the life out of creativity. There is definitely something to be said for starting at the beginning and honing one’s skills. However, my overriding problem with this type of traditionalist instruction is that it’s boring. Plain and simple. BORING! The other problem is that traditional silversmithing instruction often has haughty air about it, which can be intimidating to beginners.

textured earrings by Jen Cushman

Again, it’s my humble belief art shouldn’t be intimidating. Creativity is spontaneous, joyful, free, introspective and unfettered. Even when writing about the visual arts a decade ago, I choose to interview artists whose work had something to say. The expression of art has always been more important to me than technical perfection. This viewpoint would often put me at odds with gallery owners and other art critics who continued to voice acclaim for the same artists; the ones whose technical skills were refined but who, again in my opinion, failed to reinvent, or even push, themselves. What good is a perfectly technical painting when it’s been done over and over? What exactly does it say? How does it inspire? What does anything that tightly controlled make me feel other than reminding me of my grandma’s girdles from the 1940s?

Even though I don’t express these opinions outright in my book, those who know me understand that making art accessible is one of my main missions in my teaching and publishing. I certainly want to create work that is inspiring and joyful, but I also want to be the kind of instructor who stands up in front of the room and sets the tone by saying, “Let’s have fun! You will learn more than you think you will and you will walk out of this room today with some beautiful things to wear.”

Cold enameled earrings by Jen Cushman

A lot of thought and preparation went into my workshops this year. For example, although the sample pics of my Textured Circles class looks rather minimalist, students will learn punching, dapping, doming, texturing with hammers and also a new high pressure rolling press called the Artisan Xplorer, annealing, quenching, pickling, filing, shaping and patinas (including our brand new cold enameling). All of these metalworking fundamentals are tightly packed into this 3 hour workshop. It’s metalworking 101 in a fast-paced and totally fun learning environment.

I’m teaching this workshop three times this year (four actually, as I taught it in Tucson in February); CREATE Orange County, the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee and Art Unraveled in Phoenix. If you happen to live close by any of these retreats, or if you feel like jumping on a plane and coming to meet me in person, it would be an honor to see you and have you in my classes. Also, be sure to check out all the other amazing instructors at these venues. Wowza…talk about creativity being unfettered!

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful weekend. Go have fun! Life is too short to be boring.

Dapped and domed bracelet by Jen Cushman

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.

The Whirlwind of 2012

Ta-daaaaa!!! Here is the cover for my brand new DVD on making molds and casting found objects.

Ta-daaaaa!!! Here is the cover for my brand new DVD on making molds and casting found objects.

I know I wrote about filming for Cloth, Paper, Scissors back in November at the Interweave headquarters in Loveland, Colo. It’s hard to believe that my DVD, Breaking Out of the Mold is already available now for pre-order and instant download at the Interweave store. Wowza, let me tell you DVDs move at a breakneck pace as compared to books! I also wanted to let you know that I had the sincere pleasure of meeting another mixed-media artist at the filming; Jenny Cochran Lee. Jenny’s work is incredible. I don’t sew hardly a stitch, so to see her textile work is just jaw dropping to me. I also want to thank Jenny because she did a wonderful post on me and my DVD on her blog today.

There are so many amazing things hitting all at the same time that it’s making my head spin! All of these were in the works last year and I was running as fast as I could to keep up with them all. Seriously, I look back at 2012 and shake my head at how in the heck we managed to get it all done. Finishing my new book with North Light, new product development with ICE Resin, a DVD and a new column with Cloth, Paper, Scissors and also the Designer Showcase next month with Belle Armoire Jewelry in addition to my normal Art Chooses You column for Stampington. When I meet someone and they ask me what I do, I’m not sure quite how to respond so I simply say I’m an artist and a writer.

Life was so busy last year that I really want to take a moment to thank my amazing husband and mother-in-law on my blog (even though neither of them read it. LOL). They were there for me every step of the way, cheering me on and making sure my kids were fed, clothed and happy. I also want to thank my off-the-charts-talented and totally brilliant business partner Susan Lenart Kazmer, who has been going even harder and longer than I have to run our company, while still managing to dream up endless amounts of creative ideas, building two lines (Industrial Chic for Michaels and the new Media Mixage with Spellbinders that debuted at CHA), teaching workshops, running the ICE Resin office and home front, publishing articles and writing her new book, “Resin Alchemy” that is due out in June with Interweave. (Not to mention raising two teenagers and teaching a workshop in France this summer). Then there was the other person who was standing by my side this past year. Kristen Robinson spent 2012 teaching, building her brand new signature line Rue Romantique, publishing articles, doing a DVD for Cloth, Paper, Scissors and writing her second book — as yet untitled — for North Light that’s due out this Fall.

One of the most interesting parts of all of this to me is that the three of us had to keep completely quiet on all that was going on. Sure, bits and pieces here and there were shared on blogs and social media, but most of the time I told Susan and Kristen that it looked like we were all taking long naps in 2012.

Silly me, I didn't get a picture of me and Susan at CHA. Here is one of us shopping at the flea markets in the South of France this summer.

Silly me, I didn’t get a picture of me and Susan at CHA. Here is one of us shopping at the flea markets in the South of France this summer.

My father used to always say I couldn’t keep a secret if my life depended on it. I can say now that he was 100% wrong. I don’t really care for keeping secrets because I’m just the type of person who likes to share. The best part right now is that I can finally breathe. The cats are out of the bag. The only thing left to do is tell the world about all our new adventures and hope people see and respond to the kind of passion we’ve put into our first real love – Mixed-media ART! As for my next goal in 2013, it really is getting to take that long nap I keep talking about.

Kristen and me at Winter CHA 2013.

Kristen and me at Winter CHA 2013.

To everyone who has hung in there with me on my blog this past year, thank you. This goes the same for the new friendships I’ve made on Facebook and the incredible women (and a few men) whom I have met at workshops across the country. I really hope that if no other message comes out of anything that I do it’s this one: Dreams do come true. Nothing is unattainable. You don’t have to be the most talented person on the block, or the skinniest or the prettiest or the most congenial. All you have to be is yourself. Oh, and it helps to also link arms with some pretty amazing friends along the way who always have your back in any situation. (grin)!

Preview earring project

Looking for a simple and fun earring project to get you started working with metal? I have one in Making Metal Jewelry and the North Light Books folks have published online to whet your whistle. Take a look at CreateMixedMedia for the instructions.

Chased earrings by Jen Cushman

Chased earrings by Jen Cushman

How a book is born

new metalsmithing book

My new book is now at the F+W warehouse and I’m soooo thrilled. Because we’ve been doing so new much product development for ICE Resin this past year, I had to take a short break from writing my column at CreateMixedMedia.com. I’m back at my columns again and happy to be doing so.

Usually when a book is released, you will hear a lot about it. What you rarely hear is the process authors go through to get a book and then see it to fruition. So that’s what I decided to write about. If you have a moment, click on over to CreateMixedMedia.com and read my column.

I hope your holiday preparations are going beautifully. Here’s wishing you a very Artful day!

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.