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.










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


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!


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.

Jen Cushman Trptich Detail 4

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.

Jen Cushman College Tryptich detail 2


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.

Jen Cushman Tryptich 1

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.

Jen Cushman Good Night Nurse Detail 3


Jen Cushman Good Night Nurse Detail 2

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.


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.


Summer & Sonoran Living


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.

Happy Independence Day!

fourth of july inspired necklace with ICE Resin and Craft Attitude

Here’s wishing you a Happy 4th of July. I hope you are getting a long weekend to have some good quality time for family, creating, art, friendship or even just enjoying the warm summer days.

We’ve got people coming to the cabin this weekend, so I’m all ready for a house full of family and friends. I so love days like this; BBQs, mojitos with fresh mint that I’ve grown, homemade potato salad and lots of yummy fresh-picked corn and sweet watermelon.

I’ve been looking forward to our town’s July 4th celebration for weeks. It’s a total small town party! We head down to the community park, spread out blankets, bring our picnic basket and then listen to the band play live music while the kids run around at our feet playing with each other and all the new friends they just met and formed instant bonds with.

Weekends like this I forget all about work. I don’t even think about art or crafting. Deadlines just have to wait. Is it like that for you too? Or are you like some of my fellow artist friends who juggle day jobs and art and use these long weekends to “catch up” on their creative work?


Just a quick little note on the necklace above. I recently participated in a blog hop with Craft Attitude and made some fab pendants using their film that I printed on my home ink jet printer in ICE Resin. In case you missed the post, here is the free tutorial. Because I tend to work on multiple bezels at once, I had quite a few finished focals. I finished this one into this patriotic necklace using a vintage World War 2 poster image along with some of our glass glitter, crystal beads and bronze wire. This is the necklace I’ll be wearing for tonight’s festivities.


Craft Attitude July 4 Blog Hop


I’m so jazzed to have found a new-to-me product that works Awwwwwwwwwwwwwweeeesome with ICE Resin! (Can you hear the song in my voice??? Seriously, it’s a high-pitched squeal). It’s called Craft Attitude and its a transparent film where you print images from your inkjet printer to use in your mixed media, jewelry, paper arts, craft fashion or home décor projects.

Normally, images printed from an ink jet printer will smear when resin is applied. That’s because with ink jet, the color ink feels dry to the touch but actually sits on top of the paper. Anything wet will cause the ink to run. That’s why when I teach workshops and write articles on ICE Resin, I direct people to print images from their ink jet printers but then take them to a local copy shop to get copies made with toner ink. (You can use a laser jet printer too.) I even do this for my transparencies/acetate images. BUT, I was able to print onto Craft Attitude from my ink jet printer and use it right in our Art Mechanique bezels with ICE Resin without having to seal first. You have no idea how exciting this is to me!  I could wax poetic about this discovery, but I won’t since today is really a blog hop/free tutorial. I’ll save my resin and Craft Attitude findings for a future post.

Let’s get to the project!

“She Slept Through the Festivities” necklace

Supplies: Jewelry Attitude printable film, ICE Resin, disposable cup and stir stick, Art Mechanique Hobnail bezel Medium Shield, Industrial Chic by Susan Lenart Kazmer chain, 18 gauge blackened steel wire, 20 gauge bronze wire, Art Mechanique jump rings, blue crystal beads, copper heishi spacer beads, scraps from your paper stash, vintage royalty free image.

Tools: Wubbers baby round nose, Wubbers chain nose pliers, Wubbers extra large round mandrel pliers, steel bench block or anvil, ball peen hammer.

Directions: The first step involves some basic Photoshop Elements skills. Search for royalty free images on the Internet that you can save to your computer and create a collage sheet with in Photoshop Elements or your favorite digital imaging program. NOTE: If you are publishing or selling your work, it is important to use your own images, works that you have permission to use or vintage images in the public domain. For more information on images and copyrights check out this .pdf from the United States Copyright Office.  A good source for royalty free images on the Internet is the Graphics Fairy.

I create my collage sheets by opening a new 8.5 x 11 file in Photoshop Elements. I then open the image I want to use and resize. I copy the image, cut it and then paste it into my new file. I resize the image so it’s smaller and will nicely fit into a bezel for jewelry. I do this multiple times with multiple images until I create a full 8.5 x 11 collage image sheet. If I’m printing something with words on it, be sure to flip the sheet horizontal so the words/image prints backwards.

Cut image from Craft Attitude to fit inside the bezel.

Cut image from Craft Attitude to fit inside the bezel.

Rummage through your paper scraps to find something interesting to "back" the translucent image. Here I chose a paper scrap with vintage sheet music. The reason I used scrapbooking paper is that I wanted smaller music notes that what I would normally find in vintage sheet music.

Rummage through your paper scraps to find something interesting to “back” the translucent image. I do this for visual interest and to add another layer of mixed media to my work. I normally would have used vintage sheet music, but this bit of 7Gypsies scrapbooking paper fit the bill nicely

Mix ICE Resin according to manufacturer's directions

I tend to collage and work on multiple bezels at once. Here you can see the image I used for this project, as well as some others in various stages of the process. After you’ve placed your images into the bezel, mix up at least 1/2 ounce of ICE Resin in a disposable mixing cup with a craft stick for a full minute. Slowly drip the resin into the bezel using the craft stick and fill bezel to the top, letting it form a nice round dome.

gather chain and wire and jump rings

After your bezel is dry to the touch (8-12 hours later) and feels like glass, gather supplies to finish the necklace. Here I used Industrial Chic by Susan Lenart Kazmer chain, but altered it to add the necessary blue to the project for Fourth of July.

disassemble pices of the chain

The Industrial Chic chain comes with the brown rosary chain and a pretty end piece of red rosary to hang down the back of the neck. I used my round nose pliers to open the links and separate these pieces to use in future projects.

Use your Wubers mandrel pliers to form a Shepherd's Hook clasp from 18 gauge blackened steel wire

Use your Wubbers X-Large Mandrel Pliers to form a Shepherd’s Hook clasp from 18 gauge blackened steel wire. Lightly work harden the middle of the clasp by lightly hammering it on a steel bench block. Alternatively, you can use a lobster clasp and attach it with jump rings. Add a jump ring to the end of the pearl chain to hook the clasp.

Remove about three inches of pearl chain from the necklace so you can create and add a blue crystal bead link

Use your round nose pliers to remove about three inches of pearl chain from the necklace so you can add a touch of blue.

You can make a wire bead link from 20 gauge bronze wire, metal heishi spacer beads and blue crystal beads.

You can make a wire bead link from 20 gauge bronze wire, metal heishi spacer beads and blue crystal beads.

create a bead link with blue crystal beads, metal spacer beads and bronze wire

Use your round nose pliers to wire wrap a 4 inch piece of wire. Make a wrapped loop at one end and then thread a blue crystal bead, a metal spacer bead,  blue crystal, another washer, blue crystal, metal spacer, blue crystal and then make a wirewrapped loop on the other end to close off the link.

Using round nose pliers open each the end of the pearl rosary chain and attach blue bead link. Attach Craft Attitude and ICE Resin focal pendant to the center of the necklace using a jump ring.

Wear your pretty and patriotic necklace to your Forth of July gatherings. Just don’t be a party pooper like our vintage gal here and sleep though the festivities.

(Note: Image originally painted by Illustrator James Montgomery Flagg for a World War 1 poster called Wake Up America. )

Here’s a few more finished pics that I hope inspire you to play with Craft Attitude and ICE Resin!

Jen Cushman patriotic necklace




Jen Cushman necklace