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

Bead and Button Show Wrap Up

Well I made it to Milwaukee and back for the annual Bead and Button Show. This jewelry show is really a crème de la crème where hundreds of the world’s top instructors in metalworking, silversmithing, beading, fine silver, chain maille, stitching, foldforming, etc.  come together. It’s an amazing show that goes for 10 full days from beginning to end. People come from all over the world to take classes and shop the event.

In addition to teaching, Susan and myself had some really great meetings for ICE Resin. We also went to dinner with some of our wonderful amazing artist friends such as Mary Hetts, Anne E Mitchell and Richard Salley, and ran into dozens of other friends at the convention center for 10 to 15 minute catch up on our lives sessions. These little impromptu gatherings are some of my favorite parts of the shows always.

The event is so busy that it’s hard for me to snap as many pictures or do quite as much social media on the spot as I would like too. However, I did want to show you a smattering of fun photos from the week.

Here's our ICE Resin booth looking all pretty and ready to go right before the Thursday night opening night of shopping. Misty Grosse, our Booth Manager and Cindy Moss, Director of Sales and John Petersen from the 2015 Creative Team did an AMAZING job with set up. Susan and I were teaching classes and at the Meet the Teachers event so the booth was their baby from beginning to end. All I provided was a little creative direction.

Here’s our ICE Resin booth looking all pretty and ready to go right before the Thursday night opening night of shopping. Misty Grosse, our Booth Manager and Cindy Moss, Director of Sales and John Petersen from the 2014 Creative Team did an AMAZING job with set up. Susan and I were teaching classes and at the Meet the Teachers event so the booth was their baby from beginning to end. All I provided was a little creative direction.

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A close up of the booth with our sign and more goodies on the tables for purchase.

A close up of the booth with our sign and more goodies on the tables for purchase.

Here's a selfie taken at Meet the Teachers right as the door opened. I love getting to talk to people about my work. I forgot to take a pic of my table with all my necklace, earrings and cuffs laid out. It was an abundant amount of work for me.

Here’s a selfie taken at Meet the Teachers right as the door opened. I love getting to talk to people about my work. I forgot to take a pic of my table with all my necklace, earrings and cuffs laid out. It was an abundant amount of work for me. The lighting is always so bad in the hotel rooms!

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Luckily my dear friend Suze Weinberg took a pic of my earrings on their sweet little cards made by moi and posted it over on her blog. If you really want to see this year’s Bead and Button Show head on over to Suze’s blog for three full days of Bead and Button. Impressive Suze!!!! http://www.suzeweinberg.typepad.com/

 

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Me and Susan Lenart Kazmer hamming it up in front of Anne Mitchell’s booth at Meet the Teachers. It was the end of the night and Anne needed to excuse herself and asked us to briefly watch her stuff. Of course Susan and I decided to be silly so we took this selfie and then posted on Facebook that there was a 15 minute only clearance sale of Anne’s work. Thank goodness no one actually stormed the booth looking for it or we’d have been in trouble. It’s A LOT funnier than it sounds at 10:45 at night with only 15 minutes left to go of the event and after being up since 6 a.m.

 

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Our team — Cindy and John — ran hour long demos with a Make ‘N Take in the area right outside the show floor. There were only 26 seats available for the MNT and the ladies lined up 20 minutes before the event to get a seat. We were full. It is so gratifying to see the overwhelming response to our Iced Enamels program.

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Speaking of John Petersen here we are in the booth. This man is sooooo darn funny that he can make me laugh and laugh and laugh like a girlie teenager again.

My Saturday class that I love to teach called Layers and Depth. My students here are learning how to use Iced Enamels in our gorgeous Art Mechanique hobnail bezels. They had the best time playing with color!

My Saturday class that I love to teach called Layers and Depth. My students here are learning how to use Iced Enamels in our gorgeous Art Mechanique hobnail bezels. They had the best time playing with color!

Speaking of luscious color, this is one of the large hobnail hearts that my student did when she applied the base layer of color with Iced Enamels. This is our Raspberry Pink with our brand new Carnelian orange. It feels so 1960 retro -- bright and happy. I adore it! I wish you could have seen the imagery she went on to layer on top of this but I forgot to get a pic of the final piece. Oops!

Speaking of luscious color, this is one of the large hobnail hearts that my student did when she applied the base layer of color with Iced Enamels. This is our Raspberry Pink with our brand new Carnelian orange. It feels so 1960 retro — bright and happy. I adore it! I wish you could have seen the imagery she went on to layer on top of this but I forgot to get a pic of the final piece. Oops!

 

Art Journal Sneak Peek

Vintage Summer by Jen Cushman

I’ve been in my studio finishing up some projects and tying up loose ends at work before I head off to teach at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee. I’m teaching four classes from June 4th through the 8th. While online registration is now closed, you can still sign up on site if you’re going to the show and looking for a class or two to fill in between all that great bead and jewelry making supply shopping! Actually, I have a list this year of things I’m needing to buy for classes and I’m looking forward to seeing some of my favorite vendors again. The easiest way to see what I’m teaching is to follow the Meet the Teachers Link and click on my name. It will take you to the workshops with days and times.

I’m always thrilled to be at this show. Some of these faculty are people whose work I’ve admired immensely as I was learning and growing in my mixed-media jewelry making. I love seeing the new work these talented people bring to the show. It’s so inspiring be there amongst the best of the best!

In between packing and making some more class samples for my students to see, I was also working on a little project for Jenn Mason, Director of Content Marketing at F+W and editor of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. She and mixed-media artist Julie Fei-Fan Balzer are hosting a new online weekly show called The Mixed-Media Workshop. While I’m not appearing on the show in person, I am giving a little instruction as part of my magazine column The Mixed-Media Metalsmith. Most of the art samples are already waiting for them in Loveland, Colorado where the filming studio is located. This journal (sneak peek top pic) and a few other cast resin pieces were out the door today. I’ll let you know when the segment airs, but if you see any PR for shiny things then you know you’ll be seeing some of my casting work.

I’m planning to take a bit of a break from blogging this summer. I’ll be checking in here and there, and definitely be on my social media, but the kids are home for summer break AND I’m going into my office for all of July to write my next book on Iced Enamels. For those of you who’ve done book publishing before, you know it’s a pretty time-consuming undertaking. While I’ve gotten pretty good at juggling work and family and teaching, book writing is something that requires my full focus. After the Bead and Button Show, I’m home until CREATE Chicago the middle of August — the perfect time to write, write, write, edit, take photos, edit photos and write some more. Thankfully, most of the art pieces have already been completed over this past year.

I hope you stay with me through the next few months. I promise, I’ll have lots of new information and new art content to share when I get to the other side.

Here’s wishing you a truly ARTFUL day!

 

Miami here I come…

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I’m off to Miami, Florida to teach a three-day ICE Resin and Iced Enamels Master’s workshop for the South Florida Jewelry Arts Guild May 16-18th . In addition to teaching, I’ll be giving a presentation to the guild the evening of the 15th on the subject of “My Artist’s Life: Art, Family and ICE Resin Juggling Act.” I’ve done a fair amount of public speaking over the years on writing, business and creativity and I always enjoy it. Sure the butterflies hit those few minutes before each talk, but once I get into the groove, the time flies by and it’s always a lot of fun being in the moment.

I’m fairly certain the workshops are full. However, you can always check out the SFJAG website and see if there is a spot left. Last time I spoke to the organizer the two-day resin was full, but there were two spots left in Iced Enamels on Sunday. I really enjoy teaching at guilds because the classes are usually more intimate and folks are really looking to go a little deeper into their work.

I’ve been doing my best to get some studio time to make some new pieces of jewelry to sell at the event. I made 20 new necklace and the same number of earrings. However, I won’t be able to bring that many with me, as it looks like some of the pieces are going out the door to editors before I can get them to my upcoming retreats. I did manage to grab this pic of a bunch of them layered on my vintage dress form. I like the abundance of this photo! I just wish I could keep up that kind of production. (grin).

I’ll be taking a little break from my blog while I’m away. Do be sure to check in this coming weekend as ICE Resin is participating in a blog hop with Faber Castell. Keep an eye on the ICE Queen eZine for more deets. My day to go live is May 16th.

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

 

Blog Hop winner

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Congrats Kelly Flaherty, you are the winner of my blog hop prize. A signed copy of my book Explore, Create, Resinate; Mixed Media Techniques Using ICE Resin. You’ll also get one of our Art Mechanique Hobnail bezels and a 1oz ICE Resin to play with at home.

Thanks everyone who joined in our collaborative blog hop between Stampendous, ICE Resin and Imagine Crafts. I want to give a shout out to Laura Kelly, social media coordinator from Stampendous, for creating an amazing header graphic and also for doing such a wonderful job organizing the hop. Also thanks to my right hand woman Carol LaValley, content coordinator for ICE Resin. Both of these ladies worked diligently to make a great hop filled to the brim with talented artists and projects. I had a GREAT time seeing all the gorgeous projects the artists made.

 

 

 

 

Stamps and ink and ICE, oh my!

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Little known fact about me: I was a rubber stamper long before I was officially a mixed-media artist. My journey in the crafts industry began in 1999 when my son was born and I was a stay at home mom for six months. I joined a local MOMS Club and met a mum who was a Creative Memories consultant on the side. That’s how I got hooked on scrapbooking.

However, after a couple of crops, I grew tired of the rules and began to bust out artistically on my cardstock. That meant using non acid-free materials, ripping paper, using rubber cement for glue, sanding my photographs, adding stamped images and watercolor paint. Ahhhh….the freedom! Little did I know it was my birth as a mixed-media artist. I thought I was being my usual crafty self while getting out of the house for a couple of hours with my new girlfriends. Despite the fact I received fewer and fewer invitations to crops as my inky, paint-y, chunky layering style emerged, I managed to catch the eye of the owner of a local scrapbooking store. She asked me to teach a class. Soon I was a paper arts instructor.

Stampendous Blog Hop Jen Cushman

{NOTE: Keep reading to the end for a giveaway!}

I started working with resin in 2006 after taking a workshop with Susan. I also signed up for a semester of silversmithing at my local community college. Thus my love affair with metal and resin began, and has pretty much dominated my creative life ever since. However, the techniques I use for mixed media — stamping, painting, doodling, layering, inking, etc. — all come into play in just about everything I create.

I truly {heart} how beautifully Stampendous stamps — especially the new charm size for jewelry– and Tsukineko StazOn ink and ICE Resin come together like a perfect storm of crafting perfection! Hopefully you’ll get dozens of new ideas and inspiration on this blog hop from all the amazing artists taking part.

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Unfortunately with my schedule I wasn’t able to do a tutorial for the hop. However, I did make a necklace using the ICE Resin/Stampendous/Tsukineko trio. I can tell you the inspiration came from the fab Steampunk stamps. The story in this piece is the feeling of  being whisked away to Paris in a dirigible by a dashing raconteur. This man is definitely NOT the guy a lady settles down with, but he is for sure Mr. Romance.

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This necklace features one of our large Art Mechanique hobnail circle bezels. This Stampendous set called Steampunk Charms is full of great images to use inside our bezels. And, of course, StazOn ink is a must because it’s a solvent based ink and won’t run when you pour ICE Resin on top of the stamped images.

I love Steampunk and have for a long time. The only thing that bothers me about the aesthetic is the limited color palette of browns, blacks, bronze and gold tones.  Color is tantamount in my work.  For this piece, it comes in our Art Mechanique glass glitters and amazing shattered opal inclusions.  Of course, I also used Iced Enamels. My work wouldn’t feel complete without it.

Stampendous and ICE Resin Jen Cushman Necklace Detail

As always with any hop, I like to do a giveaway as a thank you to all the new folks who are dropping by and learning about my work for the first time.  Leave me a comment about your favorite Stampendous, Tsukineko ink or ICE Resin product and why you like it and I’ll be giving away a copy of my book Explore, Create, Resinate and a bezel and ICE Resin plunger.

After you leave a comment, be sure to hop to the other blogs for more inspiration!

May 1 – Thursday:  Jennifer Dove *Rhea Weigand * Misty Grosse * Tatiana Allen *Linda Lucas *John Creighton Petersen

May 2 – Friday:  Jennifer Dove *  Kristine ReynoldsPolly Hendrickson * Jen Cushman {you are here}* Cathy Andronicou * Sharon Morrison

May 3 – Saturday:  Asia King Debbie Cole Jamie Dougherty  “Maureen Cronin  

May 4 – Sunday:  Kristine Reynolds Lea Kimmel * Candy Rosenberg * Carol La Valley * Naghma Husain * Baerbel Born