Lariats and Texas – yahoo!

Tomorrow I will be in Dallas. What am I most looking forward to? Texas style hospitality, Texas-sized creativity and tons of fun.

When I was working on new classes last year, I came up with the idea of doing some lariat necklaces. I thought to myself, “Self, now as an Arizonan, I love to wear a good lariat necklace. My Texas folks ought to get it too.” The funny thing is I taught it in Chicago in August and I had more than one person come to me and say, “That is a pretty class, but I gotta ask you, what’s a lariat?” Just goes to show the world is not all alike is it?

Jen Cushman Lariat Necklace Blue Dress

If you want to learn a little more about how my lariats came together, take a peek at this blog post I wrote right before Chicago. After you read it, you might be able to picture me in my cowboy boots (round toe, I just can’t wear those pointy kind!), my new cowgirl chic lariat necklace with a hammer in one hand and cold enameling supplies in another.

I’ll be posting pics of the CREATE Dallas event on Instagram and Facebook. Please, if you’re on Facebook and you haven’t done it already, click on my business page and “like” me.

JenSig

 

 

 

I’m a Sticky U graduate

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I love good marketing. Seriously, I luurrrvvvvvveeeee it. Because I do the marketing for ICE Resin with my business partner Susan Lenart Kazmer, I’m always studying companies that manage to capture my attention. It’s not an easy thing to do these days — be heard and break out from the din when information is coming at us 24/7. I’ve found that companies that do stand out are doing something clever to express their vision.

Good marketing, in my humble opinion, is like making a good roux. You take the essential elements, add them together in the correct order and right timing, give it your proper care and attention (don’t walk away from the stove for goodness sakes!) and ultimately create something so simple and delicious that your customers line up for a taste.

Stay with me here. I’m going to jump from food to glue.

American Tombow Inc. recently captured my attention. Their social media specialist found my blog and sent me an email. As someone who’s involved in the crafts industry, you bet I know Tombow. I have dozens of their fab tape runners in my studio and I pull them out every time I need a quick stick. Clean, reliable, refillable and perfectly sticky every time. A staple amongst my adhesives.

However, I admit it, I tend to forget about my glue. I mean, it’s glue, right? Like salt for my roux, my work wouldn’t be the same without it because it’s an absolutely essential flavor. But it’s a connection of one element to another. It’s not something I think about. Just something I keep stocked in my pantry and wouldn’t want to live without.

So imagine my surprise to get an email saying, “Hey Jen, I love your work. We have a brand new thing we’re doing called Sticky U and I’d love for you to be a graduate.” I looked at my computer, did a double take and broke out in a grin. Hand to forehead: What?? Why?? Ok Tombow, you got my attention.

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I enrolled in Sticky U. Kasey sent me a welcome letter outlining the steps to take for my diploma, included the honorary university T-shirt and a sample of the new Xtreme permanent adhesive. I’m seriously excited to try it out because it works on paper, wood, fabric, plastic and rubber. A mixed-media artist’s dream. I have until Oct. 15th to complete my homework assignment (a DIY project) and then they’ll share it on Tombow’s social media channels. I even get an exclusive blog button that is only for Sticky U graduates. Good little motivation — like a Gold Star I got on my elementary school papers that says I’m special.

There are a lot of things I like about this campaign:

It’s clever. If Tombow had taken the traditional route, it’s marketing manager would have simply sent me an XTREME tape runner to use along with the obligatory info sheet. I would have used it. I certainly would source it in my magazine articles/blog hops/etc., but I wouldn’t have gotten overly excited.

It’s essential. Tombow folks made me think about glue and remember how important it is to my art. It’s not just glue. It’s the sticky stuff that holds everything together. Why, without Tombow, my collages would be a hot mess!

It’s fun. Without a lot of effort on my part, I get to be one of the company’s inaugural Sticky U graduates. I even get a diploma and a badge to show loyalty to my alma matter. I get bragging rights.

And the best part, in my opinion, it’s just plain out-of-the-box thinking and I like that. I like it a lot.

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Stay tuned to see what I make for my Sticky U thesis.

JenSig

 

Behind the Scenes of Jewel School

Jen Cushman Jewel School Guest

I had a great time in Knoxville, Tennessee this past weekend. I was slated to be on Jewel School live Monday morning in the Jewelry TV studio, but there was training that I had to undergo Sunday afternoon. I flew in Saturday evening in order to give myself plenty of time to make the 1 p.m. walk through and meeting with the show’s host Kim Prentiss and the production team.

I was thankful for the walk through so I was prepared Monday morning for how the segment was going to go. It’s amazing 20 minutes of TV time goes so quick. It’s conversation on Red Bull! I’ve been working with Julie, the buyer, for the past year to get some ICE Resin kits — Bronze and Silver —   on to Jewel School. Susan invented the coolest technique for making Faux Druzy stones in her book Resin Alchemy and it’s really been a joy to teach that at events across the country. It’s such a simple, but incredibly effective technique using our German glass glitter to achieve a high-end jewelry look – perfect for sophisticated Jewel School customers!

In addition to the Faux Druzy technique, I demonstrated how to get an amazing Faux Opal look from our Shattered Opal inclusions. This holographic frit catches the light under ICE Resin like you wouldn’t believe. The black looks exactly like black fire opal and the white mimics opals exactly. All you have to do is sprinkle a little into one of our Art Mechanique bezels, drip some mixed ICE Resin on top and let it dry. Viola, gorgeous gemstones 10 hours later. If you would like to see the sample jewelry I made for the show, click to my last blog post.

Here are some behind-the-scenes shot of my morning on Jewel School.

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Here’s wishing all of you a truly Artful rest of your week.

JenSig

I’ll be on Jewel School this Monday

A little announcement: I’ll be appearing on Jewel School this coming Monday, August 25 from 10 a.m. to noon EST. We’ve put together two great kits for ICE Resin showing how to make fabulous jewelry using some simple faux gemstone techniques. I think some people are going to be knocked out by the kind of high end jewelry looks you can get from the our signature Susan Lenart Kazmer hobnail bezels, our Art Mechanique glass glitters, Shattered Opals and Fire Opals and ICE Resin, of course.

New Necklace Fire Opals Jen Cushman

I made fourteen pieces of inspiration jewelry for Monday’s appearance on Jewel School, but this little beauty is my new one to wear on air. It’s the end of the day Thursday and I feel so good because there’s nothing left to do for this gig but pack an overnight bag with some pretty clothes, my new art samples, my Wubbers pliers and get on a plane to Knoxville, Tenn. I’ll be in the studio Sunday afternoon undergoing some mandatory training and then up and at ‘em Monday morning for hair and makeup. (So jazzed to have a makeup artist and not having to do it myself this time. My appearances on Sonoran Living  or other local television gigs require me to get it right rather than having a pro on hand.) By the way, you can see a little video on this faux druzy technique here.

Head on over to the ICE Queen Zine Sunday for more details on Jewel School. Carol, our fab Content Coordinator, is writing a post. For now, here are a few more sneak peek photos of the “inspiration jewelry” samples.

Faux Druzy bracelet Jen Cushman

Green Faux Druzy necklace Jen Cushman

Faux Druzy blue Jen Cushman

Hope all of you are having a very Artful week!

JenSig

Collage Class with Crystal Neubauer

Crystal Neubauer, Jen CushmanThe Mixed Media Art Retreat Art Unraveled happens every August in my hometown. I’ve been hanging out at AU for a long time. Not as long as Linda Young has been organizing it, but since I first learned about it in 2005. As an educator myself, I rarely ever get the time to take an art class from the amazing instructors at the retreats I’m at. We’re all too busy working and teaching, usually on the same days! I didn’t teach this year at AU other than a mini class for Iced Enamels. I’ve been looking at the lineup of classes since the schedule came out, secretly wishing I could sneak away for a day to simply fill my own well.

One of the classes that I kept going back to every time I had to look AU up on the Internet for work was Crystal Neubauer’s intuitive Drawing and Mark Making with College. Of course, I know of Crystal as an instructor because she teaches some of the same retreats, but it wasn’t until Seth Apter’s book The Mixed Media Artist; Art Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Dreams came out that I really got to see her work, which is spectacular. There is something about her organic color palette and the way she uses her lines in her composition that gives her work beautiful visual breath and space. I’m drawn to it.

Life is a little sped up busy more than normal right now because Arizona kids go back to school early. AU always hits at back to school time. Work, deadlines, back to school, leaving for Chicago next week to teach at CREATE all made it seem like taking a class was a pipe dream this year. But then, something amazing happened. I managed to finish all my deadline things and I just knew I’d be able to sneak away Wednesday. I literally took the last spot in her workshop at the last-minute (by the way, teachers really dislike this sort of thing because last-minute sign ups can wreak havoc on supplies/kits and one’s overall sense of peace and wellbeing. I’m just sayin’ (wink)).

My workshop with Crystal was exactly what I needed, though not what I expected. I planned to go in with an open heart and mind, to be quiet and just learn her process for art making. I expected my work to be loose and languid. After all, I was a collage and assemblage artist before I started making mixed media jewelry. Easy peasy, right? Nope. Crystal started us with small 4 inch by 4 inch pieces of 100 lb cold press watercolor paper. Since I work small and collage bezels all the time, this should have been slam dunk. For some reason, I just couldn’t loosen up. My first collage was tight with A LOT going on (below). There was no breath, just busy.

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I felt my shoulders tighten, my fists clench, my belly constrict. This was all ME. Crystal was calm and peaceful and so supportive of everyone. As an instructor, she was nothing of what was going on inside of me. Luckily, I’ve been doing this long enough that I suspected what was happening. I decided to take a break. Walk away. Use the restroom, wander in another classroom for a quick hug and hello to a fellow instructor (NOT when they were demoing of course). I loosened my shoulders, rolled my head back and forth, took deeps breaths and placed my hand on my heart to center myself. Then I walked back into the classroom after a 15-minute cooling off period and calmly sat down at my table.

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I began again and reminded myself that I was here to learn and enjoy Crystal’s process. Honestly, I was not caring about how my collages looked. I had no problem that if, at the end of the day, I took them home and put them away to get turned into work later. The pressure I was putting on myself was not about the work. It was about being out of my comfort zone and allowing myself to just not know any answers. The odd part is that even when I was stressed, I was happy. Just happy being there and doing something 100% for ME.

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In between the exercises Crystal planned for her class — which were FANTASTIC by the way, but that I won’t go into because they are her class and her story to tell — I kept doing collage. By lunchtime, I had a lovely triptych that I didn’t initially intend to go together, but related because my inspiration for all three was a colorful piece of old wallpaper and old magazine ad for trim in the same color family. Always inspired by color, I was happy I had thrown into my bag my watercolor sticks at the last minute so I could give shading to my pieces.

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After lunch, Crystal gave us an 8×10 sheet of watercolor paper (I let out a sign of relief and a happy dance to get a larger canvas to work with) as we embarked on more mark making exercises and practicing figurative drawing. It felt like coming home. I was back in my comfort zone and my creative juices were flowing. I had a piece of old sheet music in my kit that said Good Night Nurse. This reminds be of my mother-in-law. I built a college around the love story of my in-laws. She is a nurse and he was her patient. The fell deeply in love. Six weeks later married. Nine months later their son (my husband) was born and the love affair continued until his death five years ago. I thought of her sleeping alone after a lifetime of marriage and how melancholy it must be. She floating, dreaming of being in her beloved’s arms. My collage intuitively came out as the story ran in my head like a movie. I love this piece.

Good Night Nurse by Jen Cushman

Over the weekend I went to Target and bought frames for the work I made in Crystal’s class. The small collages did not work visually with the frame I chose, but I liked the bullnose clips on the black cord. I needed to mount the collages on a larger piece of paper. I burned the watercolor paper as I wanted irregular edges, and quickly clipped them up. Take a look at the piece, which is now hanging in my guest bedroom.

JenCushman Collage Tryptich

While I wanted to write a blog post telling everyone how wonderful Crystal is (Take a class from her. She’s worth every penny!) What I really wanted to do was share my day with you. My take away lesson in this is that we must make time for ourselves to do things that make us happy. Life is sometimes so difficult to juggle, but there is no personal growth without a little discomfort. I felt like I grew as a human being as well as an artist last week. I’m grateful, once again, for this journey and for having some tangible reminders of it along the way.

JenSig

For the Love of Lariats

heres one of my ice resin lariet necklaces Lariat necklaces are hip and edgy. They never go out of style because they are the ultimate in cool yet casual jewelry. I can just as easily wear one with a little black dress as I can with a white t-shirt and my favorite boyfriend jeans.

Last year, I saw a gorgeous dream catcher made my über talented friend Karen Michel on her Instagram feed. The long, luscious and colorful ribbons inspired me to look at my fiber stash. That made me pull out a box of already collaged ICE Resin bezels and my bin of metal components and cold enameled odds and ends. I spent the most glorious afternoon just tying and wrapping and creating about a dozen lariat necklaces. The more I made, the more excited I became with my creations. It’s crazy how my necklaces look nothing like Karen’s dream catchers but that’s how inspiration works. The spark of an idea, or a thought, or a question leads my brain to leap to another thought and then I’m off building a bridge to a new-for-me idea.

I took some of my favorite pieces and created a workshop called For the Love of Lariats. I’m finally getting a chance to teach it at the upcoming CREATE mixed media art retreats. Chicago in the next few weeks is my first stop for this brand new class, which is is filling up with only a few spots left.

Students will spend a day learning how to add color to metal with Iced Enamels, in addition to making some beautiful ICE Resin bezels. For those who want to try their hand at metalworking, we’ll be cutting, punching, doming and dapping bronze sheet metal. For people who just want to continue adding color to metal and digging deeper into Iced Enamels, I have a lots of premade metal blanks to use as a substrate. Finally, I’ll be teaching how to tie and twist and reinforce fibers to create a strong yet elegant lariat that can be double and triple wrapped or worn long and lean. There is going to be a lot of instruction in this class, but I’ve left ample time for exploration and play. I believe students are going to be surprised with how much completed work they will walk out with at the end of the day, in addition to new ideas to try at home.

When I was teaching earlier this summer at the Charity Wings Art Center, I wore one of my lariats. Jennifer Priest, our Social Media Coordinator, spotted it and suggested we do a little video. Always game for some fun, I stood in the metalworking section of the art center and started talking. It’s a one-take, one-hit wonder. Check it out.

I’m teaching other ICE Resin classes at the CREATE events. If you have a minute, head on over to Interweave’s website to check them out. Registration is still going on now.

JenSig

Summer & Sonoran Living

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Just wanted to let you know I was recently invited to return to Sonoran Living with the fab Terri Ouelette. This was my third appearance in the show and it fun to return. I felt pretty comfortable on the set this time around.

I went on to show people how to make simple but pretty bangles using the faux Druzy technique that Susan Lenart Kazmer developed for her book Resin Alchemy. All it takes is a bezel, ICE Resin and some glass glitter.

Take a look at Sonoran Living on ABC 15 in Phoenix to the crafty segment when you get a chance.

I’d love to show you some more behind the scenes shots but I’m on my summer vacation with my family and updating my blog from my phone is not the easiest thing to do.

I hope you are having a terrific summer so far and finding a little time to get your craft on.