Iced Enamels and Summer CHA

Today I’m packing for Las Vegas and Summer CHA. Well, Ok, so the Craft and Hobby Association is no longer calling it Summer CHA and has changed the name to Create ‘N Connect Conference. Whatever you call it, I’m off to check out the new mid-year releases from the manufactures in the crafts and hobby industry and visit with so many of my amazing Designer friends. There are also a handful of meetings set for ICE Resin, as well as a workshop I’m teaching on Cold Enameling and our fab Iced Enamels. Here’s a pic of the cute charm bracelet people will be making at our workshop Monday from 2-4 p.m.

Cold Enameling Workshop Summer CHA

Of course, my dear friend Elena with Charity Wings invited me to do something with her non-profit organization. I’ll be at the Mystery Craft Box Challenge by Charity Wings Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. If you want to see this little feat of deadline crafting, tune into Charity Wings Live from CHA. You can join her linqto room and watch the live streaming event from the comfort of your own home or office.

I was recently in San Diego teaching workshops in the brand new Metalsmithing area of the Charity Wings Art Center. I was thrilled to see my fellow Designer/Artist friend Jennifer Priest of Hydrangea Hippo wrote a post on Iced Enamels on her blog and did a little video of my workshops. I never have any teaching photos of myself because I’m just too busy working. It was a trip to sit back and watch myself on Jennifer’s video. As you can see, I just get to into what I’m doing that all I’m focused on is teaching!

I’ll be updating my Facebook status and Tweeting from CHA next week. If you’re not following my social media yet, be sure to check in if you’re interested in seeing come of the cool new craft products heading to store shelves soon. This is going to be fun for me. I’m always non-stop busy in our ICE Resin booth at the winter shows that a rarely get time to walk the floors. I’m grateful for the space and time this summer to just see and be.

I hope all of you are staying cool and using the summer heat as a great excuse to hunker down in your studios and be creative.

Artfully yours,

Jen

The CHA Bra

I realized I never did post pics of the bra I made for Charity Wings that was auctioned off at Winter CHA. Here’s a bit of background. Charity Wings did a very successful Crafty Flash Mob at Winter CHA 2012. About 100 folks took over the convention center lobby before the show opened. It was my first and only flash mob and I had soooo much fun.

Resin paper altered bra

Elena being Elena, she had to up the ante this year. A very dear friend of ours in the industry was diagnosed with breast cancer and we were devastated. Elena and some folks cooked up an idea to do a mob flash where all the crafty peeps created altered bras and then “flashed” them before  Winter CHA 2013 show opening. No worries, the ladies wore pink T-shirts with their altered bras on top of the shirts. Because this show was a big one for us with our new releases, there was no way I could sneak out this year and participate in the fun. (sad face here).

As you all know by now, I pretty much support Elena in just about anything she does to raise money for the charities Charity Wings supports. I told her I would make an altered ICE Resin paper bra. I wanted to show the world how cool and transparent tissue paper becomes when a layer of ICE is applied to it, and well, I thought the breast area was the best possible canvas to get my point across. I bought a tiny little bra at the Goodwill, washed it up and then proceeded to cut the cups out of it, keeping the underwire, and attaching resin paper. I also made some wire leaves (a technique Susan created and taught me and a bunch of others how to do in her workshops) and added an Iced Enamels bezel and some German Glass glitter  to it. Just for the fun of it, I created an asymmetrical headband to go with the bra. When I finished the whole thing it seemed to me that I somehow channeled a modern-day Moulin Rouge costume inspired by our summer workshop in France.

The one thing I forgot to do was add extra “material” (resin paper) to the cups so the bra will need to be worn by one tiny little flat chested woman. Oops! I wasn’t exactly thinking of functional art now was I? The cool part of that all of the bras were auctioned off at a Westcott sponsored party with all the money going toward breast cancer awareness.  I have no idea how much money my bra raised,  but I do know that it raised a few eyebrows and was the object of a some scandalous jokes. Of course I love that, as art is supposed to inspire, stimulate and elicit emotion!

Altered bra and headband by Jen Cushman

And to let you in on a little insider joke, when I finished making the bra I held it up for my husband to see. I asked him what else it needed, as in did it need any further crafty embellishments? Being the straight man he definitely is, his response was simply a sly smile, a quick sideways shake of his head and two words; “Just breasts.” I had to laugh. I really love my man!

Headband by Jen

On another non-bra related note, I’m off to Tucson Friday night for the To Bead True Blue show and more workshops and our booth. I doubt I will have time to update while I’m gone. I’ll try to take lots of pics and post them when I return.

 

 

Seaside funnies and wrap up

Me and Elena the day before Seaside Soiree began.

Me and Elena the day before Seaside Soiree began.

If there is one thing I have learned over the years making mixed-media jewelry is that my style is definitely not everyone’s cup ‘o tea. While some people truly “get” me and my funky, artsy style there are others — like my very own mother-in-law — who respond to my work with descriptive words such as “interesting” or “nice” or “wow, different”. I admit it, at one time it used to bruise my ego just a tad when I heard these things because I knew it meant they didn’t like my work. I’ve so gotten over this as I continue to make work and grow as an artist. The bottom line is that I have to like my work. No one else. I’ve learned there are, indeed, other souls who view this world through the same quirky glasses I do and, somehow, we seem to find each other.

I bring this up because of Brooke. I met her this past weekend when I was teaching at Seaside Soiree in beautiful La Jolla, California right at the Scripps Institute with gorgeous ocean views. Brooke is a former Marine and a very dear friend of Elena’s. She worked her booty off as a volunteer at the art retreat, setting up decorations and picking up trash and doing her best to keep things running smoothly. Brooke is not a crafter. She doesn’t get the fascination of playing with inks, paints, resin, etc. She swears whatever she tries to do that’s crafty doesn’t work out.

I was so surprised when Brooke came up to me at the end of the night after the ladies had all poured their ICE Resin bezels and asked to make one. She swore up and down hers would be terrible and the resin would be sticky or not come out. I shrugged my shoulders and told her that it’s nearly impossible to mess up ICE Resin. Guess what? I was right. Brooke made a gorgeous collage and glitter bezel in ICE and it turned out perfectly.

Brooke's face says it all...

Brooke’s face says it all…

I saw Brooke again Saturday night at the Seaside dinner and art auction. I was wearing a resin casting ring. I made a mold of a ceramic doll’s head and then painted it to finish it off. I then embedded the head in layers of resin paper and set it into one of our Art Mechanique prong rings. I happen to love my ring and wear it when I dress up. When Brooke saw the cast doll head, her expression said it all. She was so shell-shocked that she couldn’t even come up with the words “nice” or even “fine”. I burst out laughing at her reaction so loudly that Avila, one of the other ladies attending the retreat, snapped a photo.

I had a wonderful time at Seaside. It was my second year volunteering to teach to help Elena raise money for Charity Wings and I think it was even better than last year. About 40 very talented and very creative women participated and gave myself, Danita Art and Jennifer Priest an incredible outpouring of love and respect. I won’t be returning next year, as I have a pretty full teaching schedule for 2013 already, but I will definitely be there for Elena and Charity Wings when they open the doors to their new art center.

Here are a few more Seaside pics…

Me and Jamie and Trish, my roomies for the weekend. Such amazing women!

Carol LaValley, our social media curator for ICE Resin having fun painting her dress form

Carol LaValley, our social media curator for ICE Resin having fun painting her dress form

Pretty collaged and poured ICE Resin bezels and also resin paper for the journal class I taught the next day.

Pretty collaged and poured ICE Resin bezels and also resin paper for the journal class I taught the next day.

Photo tip for rings

One of the things I’m most proud of with my new book is that my wonderful editor and the kind folks at F&W (North Light Books) allowed me to do my own photography. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you might remember that while I was in the middle of shooting my beauty shots (what publishers call the main photos of your art pieces/projects), I was second guessing my ability to play professional photographer.

I’ve been fascinated with photography since collage when I took two semesters and learned how to do it from shooting manual pics (which one had to do with a 35mm camera back then) all the way to darkroom development of the images. I consider myself an amateur photographer, but since I did all of my pics for my first book, I thought it would be fun to do it all over again.

It was A LOT of work. I’m not sure at the moment if I will do it again for my third book, but for now, I’m happy when I see Making Metal Jewelry and look at the way I styled my pics and shot them.

I know many of you who follow my blog make your own beautiful jewelry. One of the hardest things to shoot well are rings. They never look as good laying on their sides, and it’s difficult to get them to stand up straight. I wanted to share a tip I learned during my process of shooting jewelry for publication. Use a small dot of modeling clay or a little bit of that sticky stuff by 3M that you use to hang pictures in your kids rooms or on the fridge.

Be sure to use natural light and a neutral background surface (I have a small set of white ceramic serving plates that I love to style with because they are neutral but shiny so they can catch the light, which allows the metal to sparkle in the photo). An example of this tip is seen here. I rolled up some modeling clay, stuck it to the bottom of my ring and then to the plate, set up the area in my studio that I use for photography and here are the results.   For this little tutorial, I didn’t pull out my lighting tent that I nearly always use when shooting for publication because well, frankly, I’m being a little lazy. Hopefully though there is enough here with these pics to give you the gist.

Here’s another tip, when you shoot your pictures you might see a little bit of the clay poking through. There is where it’s good if you know the basics of  Photoshop Elements or another photo editing program because you can zoom in close and erase those little protruding bits of clay. I left the clay in these photographs that I would normally whisk away in Photoshop so you can see how much I used and how I placed it on the plate for the rings to stand up correctly.

I made these ocean-themed rings using real shells and a sealer cost of resin for Seaside Soiree, which I’m teaching at Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in San Diego. If you are local and want to see me, please stop by the vendor fair Sunday afternoon. I will have ICE Resin products to sell along with some of my jewelry. The art fair is free and open to the public. Elena and the girls will even be putting out sprinkled cupcakes and lemonade for free refreshments too.

Also — just so you know. These prong rings are super simple to make even though they look like complicated metalwork. Why? Well because I used the cast white bronze Art Mechanique  rings available for purchase on our company website. Check them out!

 

An incredibly great time CREATE-ing

Jessica making her clay beads

I know an instructor is not supposed to ever have favorite students, but I can’t help it when it comes to Jessica. She is just such a wonderful, sweet soul. She and her mother took my class last year and came back again this CREATE for my Mermaid Dreams class. I just adore her!

I honestly had the most amazing time at the CREATE retreat put on by Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine in Orange County this past week. My classes were big time fun, my students were incredibly creative women and I sold lots and lot of earrings and books and mixed-media goodie grab bags at the Artist Faire Friday night. I also got to room with one of my bff’s, the talented Kristen Robinson. It was like having a slumber party, and we didn’t get to sleep before 1:30 a.m. any night of the week. Then up at 6 a.m. Whew! Haven’t done much of that since collage and I can tell you I feel like I’m getting old when I work on 4.5 hours of sleep for nights on end.

Some of the molds a student made

Mermaid Dreams was all about making your own molds from found objects and then casting them in resin clay. One of the students took this concept and ran with it. She even brought some taxidermy eyes to add to her cast focal beads. Love the little mold of the skeleton key for a mustache!

I also took two classes, which was just heavenly for me. I took Jenn Mason’s Dirty Little Secrets Gelli Printing class as well as Alisa Burke’s Larger Than Life Canvas class. Since both of these were printmaking/painting classes playing with all kinds of surface treatments I was just in Heaven to be playing with my paints again with mixed-media. I also got to spend some time with my sweet friends Pam Carriker and Kari McKnight Holbrook. It was wonderful to see them and chat.

crafty friends at lunch

Tami and Elena are both local so they whisked me away from the hotel to get some fresh sunshine. We went to Fullerton to the amazing shop Gilding the Lily and then ate a yummy vegan lunch next door.

Another awesome part was having Friday day off of work, so I got to hang out with my girlfriends Elena Lai Etcheverry from Charity Wings and Tami Bayer, one of the lead Fiskateers. Tami was there giving away Fiskars tooks and spreading the orange scissor love to the students and teachers and Elena was raising money for Soldiers’ Angels. We went to this incredible vintage goodies shop and ate a healthy vegan lunch. We also watched a commercial being filmed on the street right in front of the shop. It just wouldn’t be Southern California without some celebrity or photo shoot or filming going on.

On the quick plane ride home I just kept thinking of the line It’s a Wonderful Life. It is indeed!

my table for vendor night wtih crafty goodies

My table for the Artist’s Faire. Don’t you love the vintage dress form? I wish I could say she is mine, but she belong to my sweet friend Ruth Rae who let us borrow some of her beautiful props for the faire.

Yesterday, I pulled my dirty clothes from my suitcase and put them in the washer and dryer. I took them out and repacked them for tomorrow’s trip to the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee. Back to back trips can be tiring, but I always look forward to the incredible shopping at the Bead and Button Show because it’s where I get a lot of my supplies for my classes. That and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. I also get to meet up with Susan. I haven’t seen her in person since CHA and 6 months is a long time. While we talk all the time for our business, it’s just not the same as getting to see each other and work in person.

Join me at Seaside Soiree

I’m so thrilled Elena from Charity Wings invited me to join her and her amazing group of volunteers for the Seaside Soiree again this year. It was such a lovely, three-day mixed-media art escape weekend. Sheila, Elena’s business partner, is an incredible cook and she fed us the best gourmet breakfasts, lunches and dinners plus a grand luau. In addition to teaching last year, I also got some down time to take workshops from my sweet friends Cheryl Waters and Liz Hicks. These ladies are wonderful artists and instructors.

While I really enjoy teaching at all the various retreats and events, I do have to say this one holds a special place in my heart. Elena and the ladies plan everything down to the very last detail to ensure everyone is pampered and made to feel special. I can hear the call of the Southern California coast now, while thinking about the good times of friendship and art. If you want to take a sneak peek into the event, watch this little video I put together this morning.

CHA Giving Tree Ornament

I’m off to do the CHA CHA CHA. (It’s an old joke, but I never seem to tire of it). This time, I’ve packed up my car with extra stuff for our booth -Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin Booth #1029 — along with my luggage, too many shoes and my sweet friend Carol LaValley, who does the social media for us.  

The booth has been shipped ahead of time and is waiting at the Anaheim Convention Center for me, Carol, Susan, Kristen and a my sweet hubby to assemble it and get it looking “wowza” for the Winter CHA 2012 trade show.

In my car is my handmade ornament for the Giving Tree, which is part of CHA’s theme this year The Power of Community, where a handful of really wonderful charities are participating in all kinds of activities at the show. Each CHA show, Designer members are given the opportunity to make something using products from manufactures they work that will be featured on the show floor. My friend and fellow designer Candice Windham is the coordinator of this program and she does such a fabulous job working with Keri Cunningham of CHA every year on a cool theme/project.

The summer theme of Crafty Couture was so big that I knew it would be hard for Candice and Kerry to top that one. I think stepping back a bit and making this show’s  designing opportunity all about charity, particularly in this economy and how much folks are needing some extra help, is a really lovely thing to do. I’m 100% supportive and all in. If you are at CHA, you can see all the designer’s ornaments at the Community Park.

I chose to make an ornament for Charity Wings, just because they’ve kind of become my pet project this year, which I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve been reading my recent blog posts. I love their “Crafting for a Cause” motto and how the volunteers raise money for all kinds of great charitable organizations. Plus, I adore hearts and their logo is a heart with wings and a crown. Not that’s something I can sink my artistic chops into!

My ornament is an acrylic house shape that I hand cut and layered with vintage sheet music paper that I resined up and then added color to with alcohol inks. It has a die cut swirl that I cut from my stash of Grunge Board that I stained with inks. The focal is one of my favorite SLK bezels, which is is the large rectangle hobnail shadowbox, filled with magnetic poetry pieces, vintage rhinestone chain and ICE Resin. The entire background was sealed in a lovely layer of ICE and allowed to dry overnight.

I formed a paperclay heart by hand, painted it and added highlights. I also took copper wire pieces that I forged and handformed into wings and heated with a torch to give it a lovely patina. To complete the piece, I added a whimsical metal crown to the heart and added a copper wire hanger where I drew a bead on either end for the perfect cold-connection. It just needed a tiny bit more so I added a large wirewrapped pearl and crystals and some on our gorgeous silk ribbon. This stuff is luscious!

The ornament will be donated to Charity Wings and auctioned off for charity. I’m not sure yet if that will be done at the convention, or if it will happen post-CHA. I’ll be sure to let you know if it’s the latter though in case you’d like to own it for yourself.

CHA Video DejaVu

Since I’m heading to Winter CHA this week, I thought it would be fun to share the video Elena Lai Etchverry, founder of Charity Wings, and I did together this past July at Summer CHA. I was so in the moment while Elena was interviewing me, that I honestly just watched this film again the last week. As I’m viewing it (oy, it’s always so hard to see oneself on film isn’t it???), I can’t help but cringing at some of my silly comments. But then I just shrug my shoulders because this is me. It’s who I am when the camera rolling, or when I’m talking to a group of people or even amongst my friends. What you see, baby, is what you get.

Elena and I are teaming up again this coming CHA. I made an art piece for the Giving Tree, where CHA Designer members picked a particular charity and made an ornament for them to auction off to raise money for charity. SLK/ICE Resin is also sponsoring Charity Wings CHA Live Streaming program this year, which Elena and her team do an amazing job covering the behind-the-scenes happenings at the world’s largest Craft wholesale trade show. Here is some more information if you wish to sign up for the program. Insider crafting info and a tax write-off? What’s not to love?

I doubt I will have time to make new posts too often at CHA because we will be swamped with the Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin booth and my other gigs as a CHA Designer Member, but our Social Media Maven, Carol LaValley is coming with us this time to update the company blog and take lots of short little videos during the show. Be sure to check out the ICE Queen eZine and look for me and the rest of the team throughout the week there.

CHA Live Winner

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner….Beverly Jordan, congratulations you won the LIVE from CHA All-Access Pass giveaway courtesy of Charity Wings. I’ll email you in a bit to get your addy and pass along the info that Elena needs.  

Thanks everyone who played along. Your comments were awesome! I will be forwarding them along to Elena as well so she knows what ya’ll are looking forward to seeing. You can be our focus group of sorts!

 

LIVE From CHA Giveaway

Have you heard about the LIVE from CHA webcasting/livestreaming event put on by the fabulous organization Charity Wings? If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to walk around the huge Winter Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show, Elena Lai Etcheverry (the founder of Charity Wings) began this very fun livestreaming a few years ago where they cover the opening 2 days of the event.

Elena began Charity Wings seven years ago to combine her love of crafting with her background in event planning and fundraising to raise money for charity. So far, the Charity Wings volunteers have raised more than $360,000 for great causes. I met Elena last Winter CHA and found out more about her organization. I’m impressed and have been lending a hand whenever I can.

Elena jam-packs CHA Live with tons of interviews from your favorite craft manufacturers and interviews with some of the best and most well-known Designers. In addition to the event, participants get a kit of products shipped to their home that are donations from all the supporting manufacturers. The kit alone is easily worth the $39 price of the pass in brand new product that’s being debuted at CHA. (

Side note: Isn’t the logo above so cute? It was designed by my fellow CHA Designer Member Jennifer Priest who’s a self-proclaimed “addicted scrapbooker”. Love her blog!)

CHA Live takes place January 29 and 30th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to the kit, manufacturers donate prizes throughout the livestreaming so there are lots of chances of winning product AND handmade art. We’ll be participating with Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin, giving away goodies bags worth more than $100, which includes a handmade jewelry piece, some ICE Resin, bezels and a signed copy of my book, Explore, Create, Resinate. She’ll also be at our booth too, so you’ll get a tour of what our ICE Resin team has been working so hard on for the past couple of months. We’re just one of many.

So, here’s the cool part. Elena is giving me (along with other designer friends of mine) the chance to GIVE AWAY an exclusive All Access Pass to CHA to one lucky winner. If you live in the U.S., I will pay the cost of shipping for the kit, which is around $10.50. If you happen to sign up for the giveaway and live in Canada or International, I’m sorry but you will need to fund the shipping costs. Please email info@charitywings.com to get a price quote.

All you have to do to be entered to win the All Access Pass, is leave a comment here to let me know what kinds of products and ideas you are most excited about seeing at the upcoming Winter CHA trade show. Because kits are being shipping at the end of the week, the contest will close Thursday Jan. 19th at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Good luck everyone!