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Goodbyes are always hard

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Some of you may know that’s I’ve been writing a business advice column every issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry for the past three years. I still remember when the invite to write a column came into my email from Cynthia Levens. It was one of those moments where you read something and then pause a moment because the news can’t immediately sink in. I clearly remember reading the email, tilting my head to one side because I wasn’t really sure she was asking what I thought she was (offering me a regular column!) and then looking about my studio to see if there was a hidden camera somewhere. I know it sounds very silly now, but at the time I was sure it was a cruel hoax. How could it be that my most favorite publication in the entire world wanted me to become a columnist?! After jumping up and down in my studio like an idiot with a huge smile on my face, I calmly and professionally wrote this amazing editor back with this very simple reply: “Heck, YES!!!!” (I figured a little enthusiasm and passion wouldn’t hurt me too much).

From that point, I submitted a year’s worth of column ideas to her and also came up with a name for it. I didn’t want something like Business Success, even though that is the gist of what I write about. Instead, I asked Cynthia if I could explore this idea that I had in my head for a long time. I call it Art Chooses You. What it means is that I’ve done enough interviews over the past (mumble mumble) years of writing that I have the firm belief that artists are simply born artists. There is no choice. It’s just part of our DNA and as much a part of us as our eye color or if we are right-handed or lefties.  Cynthia took a leap with me and allowed me to do my thing. She always supported me and she made it so easy and enjoyable to work for her magazine. I have truly loved every moment of writing Art Chooses You.

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This January as I was driving home from CHA, I knew it was time for me to give up my column. As much as I love writing it, so many things have changed for me in the past 3 years. Namely, ICE Resin is growing very rapidly and running my part of the company (marketing/education/sales) is demanding my entire focus and attention. I actually missed my December deadline because I was so eyeball-deep in CHA and Tucson preparations. It was the one and only time Cynthia had to come down on me, and rightly so.

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I care too much about all the Stampington & Co. publications and the personal friends I have made with the editors, director of photography and the manager of the Shoppe at Somerset to let them any of them down. So it was with a heavy heart that I resigned from my column. As I was writing my last one, I began to feel a bit free because I knew I was making the right decision. It’s time for the readers of Belle Armoire Jewelry to have a fresh perspective on business success. It’s time for me to set a few more boundaries on my time. It’s the ebb and flow of life and business, and I’m here to tell you it’s so worth it to listen to the small inner voice deep inside you.

This voice is the whisper of our soul. The whispers of our heart. They will continue to whisper to us until we listen. When we don’t listen, they grow louder until they scream. My decision was at the low, low whisper stage. But I know myself well enough to know that it was time for a change, and that change is good.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with all my past columns. Friends have asked me to make them available on my blog. There’s enough good stuff there that I think I’d rather turn them into an ebook. I’m not sure. Stay tuned!

A few pics and thoughts to share

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I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family — lots of great home cooking, talking, laughing and reminiscing with my parents and godparents, whom I love so much. For those of you who have had to watch your parents age before your eyes, you know how hard it is to see them become frail with each passing year. I’ve been so busy lately raising my kids and working and moving fast that it was painful to see how slow both my godmother and father are moving these days. But the interesting thing about stopping to notice their fragility made me consider how frail we all can be at times.

The theme was reinforced by Saturday morning when both my son and I came down with a pretty bad cold. The job to care for us fell to my husband, who did everything he could to take care of our needs and keep my little one busy so I could sleep and sleep and sleep to let my body heal. By Sunday, I felt as frail and slow moving as my elders and I think it was the universe’s way of telling me to STOP and rest my body because the pace I’ve been keeping has been a tad off kilter.

Another synchronicity appeared during this time of illness. I received my complimentary contributor’s copy to Seth Apter’s new book The Mixed Media Artist. I’ve written a number of posts on this in the past few months as he’s been ramping up for it’s release. I knew the art pieces and information I had contributed, and I’ve followed the other artists he’s featured on his blog. After sleeping for almost 14 hours straight (no exaggerating), I woke about midnight and had to get up and move. In the utter stillness of my house with my family sleeping soundly, I sat on my sofa with only my reading lamp turned on and devoured every single word of Seth’s book right there. As I was absorbing it — literally wringing it out like a sponge — I had a moment where my body is present but my mind is detached and observing, almost like watching a film. I was so engaged in the complete quiet of my home in the literal dead of night by the artists profiled in his book that the experience was nothing short of profound.

Jen Cushman sketch of piece for The Mixed Media Artist

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I could even re-create this moment should I wish. Not often am I in such a quiet, slow moving state where I’m a non-normal version of myself. Had it been a normal day, I would have opened Seth’s book, turned to my page to look at my photo, glanced at my work, leafed though the pages to make metal note of the work and artists who intrigued me and then put it down until I could make an hour or two in my schedule that week to read.

Absolutely I would have laughed at some of the clever responses, felt a twang of this or that at other bits and pieces of insight and been inspired by some of the absolutely amazing art within its pages. Even in a normal day I would have Facebooked or Tweeted to give Seth props for a job well done. I probably would have emailed him to send a personal note of thanks and to congratulate him. But because I was taken so far out of my comfort zone and normal routine by the circumstance, I did none of that. Instead I sat down to share my experience here.

Here’s a fact. To be a working artist now in mixed media means there are some wonderful opportunities…amazing opportunities… to get your work in front of others. One does not need to solely rely on publishers and printed books and magazines for praise, criticism and feedback. Artists can reach out though Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, forums, Instagram and so many ways to create connections and get their work seen and talked about by others.

Amongst all of this is a lot of promoting and publicity. Yep, I do it too. Mostly because it’s truly an integral part of the job in today’s world as a contemporary artist (not as in genre but as in living in today’s era, contemporary times, meaning right now). But I also do it because telling stories is who I am. I love to tell people about articles I’ve read, art I’ve seen, cool people I’ve met, opportunities I’ve jumped on and some personal details here and there as much as its possible to share without being nauseating or narcissistic.

I can tell by the book Seth just wrote (as well as his first one, The Pulse of Mixed Media) that he’s a kindred spirit in life’s unfolding. This book is not about promotion. It’s 40+ people who took the opportunity to be real and honest and raw. I see it as a moment in time telling myself and others that sometimes we need to just slow down and draw inspiration in the stillness.

This is the studio shot of me that was published in the book. I had just moved a few weeks before the deadline and my walls were bare. My friend Samie Kira Harding took the next pic of me a few months later and had it been possible, this would have been the profile pic I would have submitted. It's not a big deal, but I thought you might like to see how deadlines come and go and how things come to be.

This is the studio shot of me that was published in the book. I had just moved a few weeks before the deadline and my walls were bare. My sister took this photo for me. Honestly, I wanted desperately to clean up my studio for the shot. I simply ran out of time. The frame in the background is an old homemade silk screen that I picked up for $1 at a garage sale. I love the raw frame and faded colors on the silk. It inspires me.

My friend Samie Kira Harding took the next pic of me a few months later and had it been possible, this would have been the profile pic I would have submitted. It's not a big deal, but I thought you might like to see how deadlines come and go and how things come to be. The painting on the wall behind me is one of mine. Actually the pussy willows in the painting was my inspiration for the imagery for the piece I made as one of my two submission's for Seth's book.

My friend Samie Kira Harding took the next pic of me a few months later and had it been possible, this would have been the profile pic I would have submitted. It’s not a big deal, but I thought you might like to see how deadlines come and go and how things come to be. The painting on the wall behind me is one of mine. Actually the pussy willows in the painting was my inspiration for the imagery for the piece I made (Be Brave as shown at top) as one of my two submission’s for Seth’s book.

Stencil Girl Book Contributor

Stencil Girl book Mary Beth Shaw

Yew haw, My friend Mary Beth Shaw’s brand new book is out. Stencil Girl; Mixed-Media Techniques for Making and Using Stencils has been released by North Light book. Last year, Mary Beth asked me if there was anything I could do with stencils to make some jewelry. Ummm….heck yes, that’s the awesome part of mixed-media jewelry. You can ALWAYS make jewelry using just about any technique there is. Mary Beth said, “Great! Can you do something for my book?” My email reply was one word: “Absolutely!”

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I think a lot of you know that my art background is self-taught and that it began with paper crafting. To this day, I love, and I mean LOVE creating with rubber stamps. The cool thing about knowing how to rubber stamp is that anything you can do with a stamp, you can also do with a stencil. Etching onto metal is a technique that I really enjoy doing in my studio. I have quite a stamp collection of images and lots of copper and bronze metal sheet and my trusty StazOn ink pads. These basic supplies and some ferric chloride and I’m good to go.

For my etched bracelets in Mary Beth’s book, I began with 20-gauge bronze sheet metal. When Mary Beth and her husband began Stencil Girl Products a few years ago, they began with her designs. I still have her original stencils and love them for their abstract and organic nature. I pulled the stencils from my stash, taped them to my metal sheet and rubbed black StazOn ink over them to transfer the pattern to the bronze. I then etched the metal and did the metalworking to complete the cuffs. Of course, I wanted to add something more to the cuffs, but since the purpose of this art project was to showcase the technique, all I did to finish them was to add the patina of Jax Brown and then polish with extra fine steel wool.

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This is the only metalworking jewelry project in her book.  The focus is amazing surface design techniques and all kinds of crafty projects that you can easily create at home using stencils. There are lots of “wow” factor projects that show just how versatile stencils are for mixed-media art; such as her wood burning and encaustic art boards and her painted memories travel journal of her workshop in Durfort. (The same place Susan and I teach when we’re in France.) There are also some wonderful inspirational art samples from some of the top mixed-media teachers/artists in the field today like Pam Carriker, Seth Apter, Leighanna Light, Jane LaFazioLaurie Mika, Traci Lyn Huskamp and others. I highly recommend buying this book for yourself or other mixed-media art/craft lovers on your holiday shopping list. Also, for more stencil inspiration, be sure to check out Stencil Girl Products company blog.

Here’s wishing everyone a truly Artful day!

My Turn: 30 Artists in 30 Days

30 Artists 30 DaysWhen I received an email last year from Seth Apter asking if I wanted to be a featured artist in his new book, I was honestly a little stunned when saw the list of participants. There were so many people whose work I admire. I felt a little flip in my stomach that I think so many of us get when opportunity  knocks on our door. The first reaction is “wahooooo!” The second thought is, “Gulp!” and the third is “Wow, what an honor. Did he really mean to send this to me?” Guess what? He did.

The deadline came at such a crazy time last year. I had wrapped up my book and it was in the printing phase. I was organizing Susan and mine’s workshop to France, working on a what was a secret collaboration at the time with Spellbinders Creative Arts and we were in the midst of developing Iced Enamels to create a brand new cold enameling system for permanent color on metal. When I read Seth’s email, I almost turned down the opportunity because I honestly had no idea how I was going to fit it into my schedule. However, it was something I really, really wanted to do. I spoke to Seth and decided I would find a way.  I had no time with this project to even evaluate if the work I made was even “good enough” for a book. I went 100% by my  instincts and created pieces that were inside me at the time.

This was what I had in my sketchbook as the idea before I went to France. It was going to be a necklace. When I found this cage at a Paris flea market however, I knew my piece was going to be an assemblage.

This was what I had in my sketchbook as the idea before I went to France. It was going to be a necklace. When I found this cage at a Paris flea market however, I knew my piece was going to be an assemblage.

The most immediate gratification thing that came out of this opportunity was that I sat down and really began working out a new concept I had been playing around with in my sketchbook and spare moments in my studio. These explorations were the seeds of my new Art Journal Jewelry work and the workshops I’ll be teaching on these techniques next year and into the future. I’m not sure if it ever would have happened without that deadline and me not wanting to let Seth down. It’s another tangible lesson in saying YES! and how I can see that when I push myself to do things I don’t think I’m capable of at the time, the universe responds to leaps of faith by opening doors and unlocking new insights.

When you write books, you’re not allowed to reveal the projects early by contract no matter how much you want to spill the beans. This cast ICE Resin self-portrait piece has been sitting amongst my found object collections in my studio for months and months. Since it’s my turn for Seth’s 30 Artists in 30 Days blog preview of his brand new book, I figured that I can finally reveal the assemblage. Here’s a little video I made talking about the piece:

I hope you take a moment to check out The Mixed-Media Artist: Art Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Dreams from Over 40 Amazing Artists. Also, if you want to take an inspirational journey, take a peek at the other artists being featured on Seth’s blog. There are people whose names I recognize, of course, but there are some incredible folks I’ve  just had the pleasure of seeing because of Seth’s skills as an art curator.

I’m in Somerset Workshop!

I’ve been so fortunate to have my work featured in lots of Stampington & Co publications over the years. The most career-enhancing one, of course, was March when I was featured in the Designer Showcase of Belle Armoire Jewelry right after my new book Making Metal Jewelry came out. I thought it really couldn’t get any better. So I was really (really, really) surprised when Jennifer Jackson, the editor of Somerset Workshop emailed me late Spring and asked if I’d do mixed-media metalworking projects and be featured in her amazing magazine.

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My heart leapt a little in my throat and then I kept reading her email to the requirements. Four to five projects with step-outs of every single step to be sent to Stampington HQ for photography, an article, 10 to 12 brand new pieces of work using the techniques and showing variations and range of work, captions for every image and written instructions for every step. Then there were paragraphs for deadlines and compensation. My heart sank from my throat to my feet. Let me say right now on my blog for all to read. Dang, being in Somerset Workshop is an incredible honor, but also a LOT of work. Considering I was coming off a brand new book that I had been working on for months and months on end, it seemed crazy to jump right into another big publishing committment, along with my teaching schedule and ICE Resin.

Did I say what an amazing opportunity it is? Particularly because I’m on the second person to be featured in Somerset Workshop making jewelry (the first was my sweet, dear friend Kristen Robinson) and the first to show beginning metalworking. The publication only comes out once a year, so the honor of being hand-picked by Jennifer is huge. So I did what I do and went to work by scheduling it in my master calendar and setting a individual deadlines for making pieces. The problem is that life with a capital “L” got in the way and I ended up pulling some nearly all-nighers to get it done by Jennifer’s deadline, rather than my self-imposed ones that came and went. I made it though, and am proud of the work that’s in the magazine.

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The issue is available on newsstands right now. It’s amazing! Every Somerset Workshop is so much more akin to a book than a magazine with 144 pages and stunning - stunning - photography. The step out photos are, honestly, the best quality I have ever seen, and it’s because of Jennifer’s eye and commitment to her magazine that the format is so visually clean and beautiful. In addition to my work, you will see incredible art by Colette Copeland, colorful and whimsical mixed-media by Junelle Jacobsen, quirky and playful stitched artwork by Taryn Reece.

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I’m off on a busines trip today for ICE Resin, so I’ll be sure to post more pics of my jewelry pieces on the magazine when I return. But don’t let that stop you from ordering online or visiting your local bookseller. If you love mixed-media art, do yourself a favor as I do and make it a point to never miss Somerset Workshop.

P.S. You’ll also find a piece of jewelry using Iced Enamels in the current issue of Jewelry Affaire and also a mixed-media art piece I did in the newest issue of Somerset Memories. I forgot I’d been that busy until they all came out at the same time. (grin)

Gooooo Team! #handmade bracelets

handmadebraceletsHere’s a little bit of news. Our fab friends over at Interweave — particularly the Cloth, Paper, Scissors editors, under the direction of Jenn Mason — worked hand-in-hand with us to publish a brand new 108-page ebook showing the bracelets myself, our ICE Resin 2013 Creative Team and some staffers made for actors and actresses of the Academy of Arts and Television Sciences for our recent Gift Lounge the Saturday before the Emmys. When Jenn and I first began kicking around this crazy idea of putting together a book in less than 3 weeks time, we looked at each other like we were a little off kilter. But then if there’s one thing I’ve learned working with Jenn over the past couple of years, it’s that she moves as quickly as I do and enjoys a challenge even more. (As an aside, I first began writing articles for Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine and that morphed into my column, “The Mixed-Media Metalsmith” that I currently produce for every issue. I’m lucky to spend time with her each year at the CREATE Art Retreats as well.)

Long story short, as the team was working on their handmade bracelets for the celebs, as well as making all their charms for the make n’ take, Carol LaValley, ICE Resin’s Content Coordinator, started working with Paige Martin, CPS associate editor, to push the ebook to fruition and put the publishing machine into drive. I asked the entire team to document their journey with behind-the-scene pictures. Everyone also had to write step-by-step instructions for their bracelets and also talk about the inspiration behind their pieces. I even hunkered down in my studio and made leather cuff bracelets for the guys. Thank goodness for my friend Dahlia Ziffra who came to my rescue to provide the incredibly beautiful leather cuffs to use a base for my ICE Resin bezels and designs. I’ve made cuffs before, and absolutely love doing them, but there was literally no time to pull it together. What is that saying about necessity being the mother of invention?!

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Every artist on the Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin  team made the most beautiful, inspired original wearable art for the celebs. Carol ended up editing/compiling nearly 10,000 words for this book, along with getting Paige all of the photos. Jenn, Paige and her art people designed an incredibly beautiful ebook so others can, in turn, make jewelry like what the stars will be wearing.

Interweave’CPS_IceResinWebinar-500-register[11]%20copy_jpg-130x130s marketing department is doing a wonderful job spreading the word. Take a look at what was sent out today to subscribers of Cloth, Paper, Scissors daily email blast. I’m so thrilled and proud to see another publication in our line up. I hope you find #handmade bracelets  inspiring and fun.

In addition to the ebook release, we did a webinar with Interweave yesterday. More than 1,700 people signed up to attend! If you happened to miss it and still want more information, here is the link to download it and listen in, Creative Members Pamela Huntington and Cindy Cima Edwards were the moderators, along with myself, and they rocked it!

Stampington & Co Freebie

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How fun to open my email and see a project of mine on Stampington & Company’s Postscript newsletter. As I do these kinds of articles, I mark them on my big office calendar, do the work, turn them in and usually forget about them until I happen to open a magazine or an email and there I am. It’s always kind of cool to see the process come together. I really do love working with all the Stampington editors because they know their stuff when it comes to layout and typography. Johanna Love, Stampington’s Director of Photography, has such a gift for taking pictures that I do believe every piece of art sent to her looks better after she’s styled and shot it.

For this Guest Artist piece, I created a little house triptych with lots of surface layers of paint, rubber stamps and color. I had a blast playing with Dina Wakely’s stamps. I know Dina and she’s an awesome artist. Her new stamps are perfectly in line with my own aesthetic; a little  edgy with an urban vibe. I used her circles and random number stamps for this.

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Believe it or not, I struggle when it comes to giving my work titles. I have no idea why considering I like to think of myself as a wordsmith. However, as soon as I finished this triptych and looked at the images, the storyline “Ma, Pa and the Cousins visit the Big City” immediately popped into my head. The family is dressed up for a night in the city and the tickets represent an invitation to attend a swanky gallery gala, given to them by a worldly artist they met when he came through their hometown in search of a rural landscape for his paintings.

Altered vintage photographs

I had so much fun using these altered vintage photographs that are in Spellbinders® Media Mixage ™ with Susan Lenart Kazmer™ line (Available in the paper crafting section of Joann Fabric and Crafts stores). I’m not sure how many of you know this, but ICE Resin’s Art Director is Karen Michel, an amazing mixed-media artist, author and instructor. As a matter of fact, Susan and Karen became friends 13 years ago when they first started teaching the national mixed-media art retreat events together. Karen is the person who’s responsible for all of our new packaging, our website design, our company blog design, etc. She’s also the artist who created the collage ephemera papers for Susan’s licensed line with Spellbinders® Media Mixage ™ .  Her eye is impeccable! The other reason I like the ephemera packs so much is because it contains so many old papers — all over 100 years old — that we’ve collected on our trips to France’s flea markets. We’re talking the real deal.

All said, I really do like this art piece. It makes me smile. It’s colors are happy and uplifting and there’s just something kind of giddy about it.

Anyway, enough of the “behind the scenes” talk for this piece. Pop on over to Stampington’s website and take a look at my project here. The best part is it’s a freebie!

Calling all Art Journalers…

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Oh yeah, there’s a new eMag in town from the fine folks at Cloth, Paper, Scissors. Art Journaling Exposed was such a hit that über editor Jenn Mason followed up a second edition filled with more great inspiration and education for people like myself who love art journaling.

Now, I have to admit, that I’m not nearly as prolific in this art genre as I would like to be. I have so many mixed-media jewelry ideas in my sketchbook that when I get creative time I tend to spend it at my bench working with metal and/or resin. Luckily, almost every Saturday morning is playful art time in my studio with my 3-year-old daughter where we get out the paints, paper and pens for a couple of hours of special mother/daughter time. Once I get her paint palette all set up at the big round table in my studio, I’m free to grab a journal of my own to work on. Sometimes she wants to dig into my collection of rubber stamps and other times we grab my big box of recycled objects for mark making.

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When I read Art Journaling Exposed 2 last night, I was so inspired that I immediately wished for Saturday morning. My friends and fellow artists/instructors in the publication got my creative wheels turning with their responses to the creative prompts Jenn and her team sought from us. Heck yes, you can bet I’m trying out Indian Yellow, Leaf Green and Magenta as my next color combination, as suggested by the fabulously talented Jenny Cochran Lee. I also adored the video of my dear friend Kari McKnight Holbrook’s technique of raindrops on backgrounds. Seriously fun stuff. I also couldn’t help having my face split into a big happy grin to see one of my BFFs Kristen Robinson show how to make an awesomely up cycled journal from plastic cereal bags. Trash art where there’s nothing trashy about it.

Of course, it wasn’t quite as easy watching myself on video in this publication showing how to make ICE Resin paper. (This was shot, but the way, when I was in Colorado last October to shoot my DVD Breaking Out of the Mold). But then again, I don’t know any one who actually enjoys watching themselves on film. My journal pages look great though when the resin is applied to it, so I’m sure there will be lots of readers out there who will want to try out a cool new technique. I’m truly thrilled for the opportunity to be part of this new eMag.

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If any of this piques your interest, here is the link to Art Journaling Exposed 2 at the Interweave store. (I know the image above looks like you can click those video links, but alas they are only screen shots from the eMag). Also, if you haven’t yet joined the Cloth, Paper, Scissors online community and sign up now, you can get a free copy of the Art Journaling Exposed 1.

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

Iced Enamels makes my creativity soar

My Creativity Soars with sheet metal, Iced Enamels, Susan Lenart Kazmer Media Mixage by Spellbinders bird blank and hobnail bezel and ICE Resin.

My Creativity Soars with sheet metal, Iced Enamels, Susan Lenart Kazmer Media Mixage by Spellbinders bird blank and hobnail bezel and ICE Resin.

I wanted to show you a necklace I made for the Spring Belle Armoire Jewelry article where I was featured as the issue’s Designer Showcase. I turned in a lot of work to Cynthia, the editor, for the feature, but this particular piece is one of my favorites. I think it really shows my artistic voice and what I do with metal and resin and fibers and, now, our crazy amazing Iced Enamels.

I began this necklace with a sheet of 24 gauge nickel silver (didn’t bother using sterling because of the expense and because I knew I would be applying color to the metal anyways) and cut it into a crescent shape with my wonderfully sharp French Shears. I filed my edges and texturized my metal with the ball peen part of my hammer, creating hundreds of dimples in the metal. Then I put the textured crescent into my large wooden dapping block and began forming the edges to give it a three-dimensional shape. Making this crescent base is a QR code video in my book Making Metal Jewelry. Check out the link on it over at the F&W CreateMixedMedia website.

Then came even more creative fun! I applied our Enameling Medium to the metal — this medium is especially formulated to adhere the enameling powders to metal — with a paintbrush, putting on just a thin coat. I sprinkled Relique Turquoise on one side of the metal crescent and then covered the other half in our gorgeous German Silver and melted it with a craft heat gun. I added Relique Ivory onto the adorable bird blank, torn some text from an old book for the bird belly window. Then I took one of the sweet little Susan Lenart Kazmer Media Mixage hobnail squares and added the word “frisky”.  I have no idea why I chose that word, but it just struck me at the time so I tore it from the book. A little side note on this: I no longer over think my image/word choices. I go with my very first instincts and run with them. I’ve learned over the years to trust my instincts, as my art always looks better when I do.

I mixed up some ICE Resin from our handy dandy plungers and painted on a thin sealer coat over the Iced Enamels. The addition of ICE Resin, which is a glasslike surface when dry, is what makes our new Cold Enameling program. Without a sealer coat, any color you add to metal jewelry will wear off over time as your pieces are worn. Here’s another little trick: I layered all the components together while the ICE Resin was wet so they would bond together stronger than glue as they dried, causing a cold connection that’s inseparable.

After the pieces dried, I cold connected the bird to the metal crescent with an eyelet rivet for additional strength. Then I wired up the crescent with an organic knot on either side and added fibers to one of our sterling silver tassel bezels. I created a connection for the fiber bundle and made a clasp from sterling silver wire. The other side of the necklace is vintage rosary chain that I bought from a friend at last year’s Art Unraveled that I LOVE. All in all, this necklace took some work and some steps to complete, but, as I said, it really is one of my favorites.

Here’s hoping this provided a little inspiration today. Now, get into your studio and start playing — hopefully with the brand new Spellbinders Media Mixage line designed by Susan Lenart Kazmer and our brand new Iced Enamels! These components are da’bomb!

Covergirl…

Belle Armoire Jewelry Cover March/April 2013

Belle Armoire Jewelry Cover March/April 2013

Remember when I said there were A LOT of big things in the works last year that I had to keep quiet about? Well, I finally can tell you the last of the secrets! My work is being featured in Belle Armoire Jewelry as the March/April issue Designer Showcase. The issue — with my necklace from my book Making Metal Jewelry on the cover (!!!) just arrived in subscribers’ mailboxes today and I’ve heard a resounding positive response from soooo many of my artist friends.

To say it’s an incredible honor to have my work featured is, truly, an understatement. I know there are people who will think that it was a natural fit for me because I write a business advice column for this magazine every issue, but the truth of the matter is that being a “regular” with the Stampington publications can actually make the selection process tougher. I liken it to being a mother and not wishing to play favorites to any of your children.

ICE Resin bezel by Jen Cushman in Belle Armoire Jewelry 2013

ICE Resin bezel by Jen Cushman in Belle Armoire Jewelry 2013

The editors go out of their way to judge every piece of art work that comes into the magazine based on some pretty high standards. That’s why I’m always impressed when I meet someone whose been published in Belle Armoire Jewelry because I’ve seen the editors at work during the selection process. It takes a considerable amount of thought and consideration on their part each month.

When Editor Cynthia Levens emailed me to say that she wished to feature me, I jumped up and down in my studio and couldn’t help but have a big smile from ear to ear. Then she told me what I had to do. Not much, just submit 25 pieces of jewelry (!) for photography and then catch up with Ricë Freeman Zachary for her to do the interview. I’ve known Ricë for a few years now, but it’s always nerve wracking to be interviewed, particularly for something as wonderfully big as a Designer Showcase profile.

Belle Armoire Jewelry Jen Cushman profile

Belle Armoire Jewelry Jen Cushman profile

I could not have asked for a better person to interview me. Ricë is a very accomplished mixed-media artist and independent writer/author. She’s been in the trenches teaching and selling her work. She knows when people who are being authentic with her and she can spot from a mile a way when someone is being politically correct..aka saying what they think they’re supposed to say rather than speaking their truth. I love talking to Ricë because she’s real and ensures people respond accordingly. I knew I’d have some tough questions, but that was part of the fun. The article is wonderfully written. After reading it through for the second time, my favorite part is this (page 23):

She (meaning me) turned her focus on the most salient detail of the life she wanted: learning to value her creativity and skills enough to give them the time and space to flourish, and then learning to value the concrete results of the process enough to share them with the world instead of putting them in a drawer.

I know I pulled this out of context, and I do hope you find the time to read the whole article, but every time I read this paragraph that Ricë wrote, I get chills. It’s an incredible thing to feel that someone “got me” and she really, truly understood what I was trying to say as a human being and an artist.

Thank you, Ricë and Cynthia and Christen for your faith in me and my work. This Designer Showcase is a major highlight in my life. Also, as always, my incredible appreciation to Susan Lenart Kazmer for making such gorgeous and high quality hobnail bezels and creating ICE Resin so myself and millions of other artists can explore their creativity.