2014 Workshops

I just now finished updating my website listing my 2014 workshops. I’m thrilled to be traversing the country to show all the amazing techniques and art making that can be done with ICE Resin, Iced Enamels, bezels, metal sheet, wire and a handful of good tools to make the magic happen. I’ll be on the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, Florida and the two times in the Midwest this year. I’m also thrilled to be teaching 3 of the four CREATE Mixed Media Art Retreats this year, including two new locations Dallas, Texas and Seattle, Washington.

For those of you who ALWAYS attend the fabulous Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee every year, I have some brand new workshops for this event as well. I’m teaching how innovative your jewelry can look when you make your focals from wire, resin and paper. These pieces seem so delicate that people often ask if they hold up with wear. Heck yes! This is a playful workshop where students will learn to not only create basic shapes with wire, but see how easy it is to hand sculpt dimensional forms. All you need to know is exactly where to bend the wire, and I’ll be the helpful guide! I’ll be talking more about this on my blog and show some other images that I’ve created with wire, resin and paper. Instructors are only allowed to upload one image for the Bead and Button classes so that’s why all you see are the earrings. Trust me, this class has legs!


There are so many classes to choose from at Bead and Button that it can be a little hard to find the instructors you are looking for. Here is a direct like to my workshops: Cold Enameled Cuff * Cheerful Charms * Layers and Depth * Mix Your Media; Resin, Wire and Paper

For the CREATE retreats, my Links, Clasps, Components and Chain class comes from my students who last year requested that I teach how to finish off their beautiful resin pendants with some of my organic wireworking techniques. I’m truly psyched to teach this workshop because, honestly, twisting and bending wire into components feels like play to me and not work. It’s so meditative once you get into the rhythm of wirewrapping that I often sit cross legged on my sofa with a small piece of wood on my lap for a table top, my Wubbers pliers, snips and a roll of wire while I watch a movie with my family. I make a pile of components and then finish them off later in my studio with my hammer and steel bench block to give clasps, especially, a bit of work hardening or a little bit of torch work where I want to draw a bead. Take a look at the PR Interweave put out this week announcing that registration of Chicago is now open. Love the honor of being among this particular company of artists — Jane LaFazio, Helen Schafer Garcia and my dearest Kari McKnight Holbrook.



This is just a little taste. To learn more, head on over to my website and click on the Workshops page. You can scan the different venues. Remember, sign ups for Milwaukee and Chicago are going on right now. Space is limited!








Resin, Wire and Paper; a beautiful combination

I’ve been making sculptural wire forms for my jewelry and mixed-media for a while now, so I decided it was high time to teach a workshop on the techniques. I have been smitten by the transformation paper undergoes since the first moment I learned how to make resin paper from Susan years and years ago. I’ve talked about this moment many times. It truly was like the Heavens opened up so new Art Muses could take my hands and lead me down an entirely new path of work. I have experimented with every type, shape, size and kind of paper over the years. We’ll be working with a dozen more of my tried and true favs during our time together. If you’re interested in this process at all and plan to be in Tucson for the Gem Show, please take a look at my class. We’ll be at the To Bead True Blue Show Feb. 2- 10, 2014. As always, I take all those experimentations in my studio — all the fails and successes — and develop workshops for my students so its guaranteed success with none of the heartache. I like to tell my students I always ask myself “What if?” so you don’t have to. (grin)

With three hours together, you will definitely be able to make multiple pairs of earrings. Or you can make one pair of earrings and use the rest of your time to make a pendant or focals for other pieces of work. While I always put together project-based classes for people who wish to walk out with a completed art project, I work space for play and experimentation in my teaching style so people leave with pieces that express their individual expression.

Come join me. Learn how to take humble materials like this:


to this:


Kick up your jewelry with wire working

I started playing with wire before I became interested in metalworking. The two just seem to go hand-in-hand. As my organic mixed-media style has clearly emerged in my art, so has my wire working skills. I rarely use manufactured components in my jewelry, mostly because I prefer seeing what I call “the Hand of the Artist” in my pieces. This means making my own bails, clasps, links and even wire beads. Wireworking is also how I securely and creatively attach fiber and alternate materials along with my resin pieces to create wearable works of mixed media art.

WireWork Bail

Sterling Silver Wire Link

For those of you who’re interested in learning how to organically create wire forms, as well as new super-secure cold-join attachment techniques using wire, I’m teaching workshops on this summer at both Art Unraveled in Phoenix and CREATE in Chicago.

Here is the information for the Art Unraveled event:  Free Form Jewelry on August 6th from 1:30-4:30 p.m. This three-hour classes is technique-heavy and fast paced. You will make some beautiful pieces to wear and the projects you choose are completely up to you. Earrings, bracelet, necklace —  all with just wire or an eclectic mix of wire-and-beads or wire-and-fibers. Just like all of my workshops, students will walk out with work that’s completely personalize to the individual aesthetic. Students are also encouraged to spend class time making a range of wire components as the optimal way to experiment with and really learn all the various loops, swirls, techniques and designs.

For all of you East Coasters, here’s the info for the CREATE Chicago event. (All of the CREATE retreats are run and sponsored by Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine) Organic Wirewrapping is Sunday, August 25 from 9 a.m. to noon. The information above regarding the techniques you’ll learn and projects you can make also applies to this workshop. To register online, head on over to the main website, click into Workshops and scroll down by day to see my classes.

Another great thing about twireworking is that it doesn’t take a lot of tools or money to create beautiful handmade components. A couple of spools of wire in various gauges, along with round nose jewelry pliers and a few household mandrels and you’re in business. (It does help to bring a steel bench block, but it’s not absolutely necessary if you’re trying to travel lighter with your tools/supplies).

Want to see more? Here are some pics of my work for inspiration. There’s also a lot of wire techniques in my new book Making Metal Jewelry as well. As I said earlier, this type of organic wirework is something that really gets my creative juices flowing. and it’s my sincere hope that I can inspire the same for you.

Wirewrapped Earrings

Organic Wirework Pin

Wirework Bail and ICE Resin

Sterling silver wire clasp

Crafting on Sonoran Living

Butterfly charm

Life is good! I’ve been invited to get crafty once again with the supercalifraglious Terri Ouelette on her Arizona morning show Sonoran Living. I’m going to show how to make some fun metal mixed-media charms in minutes. I’ll also be showing how to add some color and texture to metal. These charms can be used for jewelry, home decor, as embellishments for scrapbooks and cards or any myriad of handcrafted goodness. Of course, since the appearance is less than 72 hours away, I’m in my studio right now making samples. But here’s a butterfly charm where I used Iced Enamels so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about.

If you’re an Arizonan, please take a moment to set your DVR for Sonoran Living Live this Friday, May 17th at 9 .m. For those of you who follow me from other parts of the country, the station is really good about getting links up on their website within hours of the show broadcast. I’ll be sure to post a URL when I have one.

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

Shout out to B’Sue


Detail shot of my Textured Circles necklace from my book Making Metal Jewelry.

Detail shot of my Textured Circles necklace from my book Making Metal Jewelry.

Just a quick post today as it’s my mother’s birthday and we have a fun day of lunch, shopping and a movie ahead of us. I wanted to give a public shout out to my friend Brenda Sue Lansdown, the owner of B’Sue Boutiques.

I met Brenda Sue just over two years ago when a friend of mine told me about her fab online jewelry supply store. I was in desperate need of some hard-to-find brass charms and chain for a workshop I was teaching. I was frantic because my supplier went out of business. I called Brenda Sue on the phone and we had the most amazing conversation. Our connection was so instant, it felt like I had rediscovered an old friend after 20 minutes.

I’ve continued to buy from Brenda Sue for my kit supplies. I also took the time to learn about her background in the jewelry making biz and found her story inspiring. She even helped to illustrate a recent business advice column of mine in Belle Armoire Jewelry. She recently bought a signed copy of my book Making Metal Jewelry, and today she did a review of it on her blog. She wrote such a great review that I had to give her a great big shout out for her support!

Here’s the thing about B’Sue. She’s all about her customers and she tells it like it is. If she doesn’t like a new product — even if it’s been developed by a fellow artist friend — she will not recommend it. People know that when she gets behind something, she’s put it through the paces and believes in it. She has a great reputation in the jewelry community. To know that she liked my book and found the advice helpful, honestly, means a lot to me.

Also, this is a good time to tell you about her community of peeps to love to make jewelry and share their experiments, triumphs and failures with their work. If you are new to making jewelry, the B’Sue Boutiques Creative Group on Facebook  is a great online place to connect with other people who are more than happy to answer questions and share. I try to pop in whenever I can.

Textured Circles and Creativity

Textured and enamels bracelet by Jen Cushman

Textured Circles is one of the workshops I’m teaching this year. I designed this workshop as I was writing my book, Making Metal Jewelry, because I’m wanting to teach some beginning metalworking classes that are fun and simple, but absolutely in line with the fundamentals one needs to learn when first starting to work with metal.

I’ve thought a lot about the silversmithing instruction I received at my community college. My instructor – a 4th generation goldsmith – developed his classes using the exact same learning methods that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather employed. Not that there is anything wrong being a purist, in my humble opinion, other than it sucks the life out of creativity. There is definitely something to be said for starting at the beginning and honing one’s skills. However, my overriding problem with this type of traditionalist instruction is that it’s boring. Plain and simple. BORING! The other problem is that traditional silversmithing instruction often has haughty air about it, which can be intimidating to beginners.

textured earrings by Jen Cushman

Again, it’s my humble belief art shouldn’t be intimidating. Creativity is spontaneous, joyful, free, introspective and unfettered. Even when writing about the visual arts a decade ago, I choose to interview artists whose work had something to say. The expression of art has always been more important to me than technical perfection. This viewpoint would often put me at odds with gallery owners and other art critics who continued to voice acclaim for the same artists; the ones whose technical skills were refined but who, again in my opinion, failed to reinvent, or even push, themselves. What good is a perfectly technical painting when it’s been done over and over? What exactly does it say? How does it inspire? What does anything that tightly controlled make me feel other than reminding me of my grandma’s girdles from the 1940s?

Even though I don’t express these opinions outright in my book, those who know me understand that making art accessible is one of my main missions in my teaching and publishing. I certainly want to create work that is inspiring and joyful, but I also want to be the kind of instructor who stands up in front of the room and sets the tone by saying, “Let’s have fun! You will learn more than you think you will and you will walk out of this room today with some beautiful things to wear.”

Cold enameled earrings by Jen Cushman

A lot of thought and preparation went into my workshops this year. For example, although the sample pics of my Textured Circles class looks rather minimalist, students will learn punching, dapping, doming, texturing with hammers and also a new high pressure rolling press called the Artisan Xplorer, annealing, quenching, pickling, filing, shaping and patinas (including our brand new cold enameling). All of these metalworking fundamentals are tightly packed into this 3 hour workshop. It’s metalworking 101 in a fast-paced and totally fun learning environment.

I’m teaching this workshop three times this year (four actually, as I taught it in Tucson in February); CREATE Orange County, the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee and Art Unraveled in Phoenix. If you happen to live close by any of these retreats, or if you feel like jumping on a plane and coming to meet me in person, it would be an honor to see you and have you in my classes. Also, be sure to check out all the other amazing instructors at these venues. Wowza…talk about creativity being unfettered!

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful weekend. Go have fun! Life is too short to be boring.

Dapped and domed bracelet by Jen Cushman

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!


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.

Happy Friday everyone! Thanks so much for all of you who checked out my blog and took the time to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about what kind of jewelry they like or want to make. I also want to give a shout out to Kristal for taking the time to tell such a sweet story about why elephants are a sacred talisman for her. It really touched my soul. I truly believe every human being in the world has a story to tell, and that its through the sharing and telling of stories that we connect with each other on a deeper level. I also want to send a quick thanks to our amazing ICE Resin Creative Team members who shared my giveaway on their Facebook pages — Jen Crossley, Cindy Cima Edwards, Lexi Grenzer and Pamela Huntington. These ladies inspire my soul with their gorgeous creations and I’m so blessed to call them friends.

So the winner of an autographed copy of my book is Yoli! Sent to my blog for the first time from Lexi. As you can see, I used randomnumbergenerator.com and the winner was 22. I counted backwards in the order they appear  from the first person to comment to the last one. Yoli, I sent you an email and need your address. For those of you who didn’t win, keep an eye out on the ICE Queen eZine (our company blog). I will be sprinkling signed book giveaways here on my blog and also there on the company one too. To learn about it, be sure to read the blog and “like” our ICE Resin Facebook page.

random number generator

Happy Hump Day Giveaway

new metalsmithing bookI woke up on the sunny side of the street today after a terrible stress headache that lasted all day yesterday. There are times when all the different things we’re juggling in the air will collide on the same day and then all I want is to crawl back into bed and fast forward to another day. Luckily, the yucky headachy days are few and far between. Anyhoo…..since I am HAPPY, happy, happy today and because I have NOT been able to get my website re-done as of yet with the back-to-back shows, I decided it was time to finally do a book giveaway on my blog.

If you’ve been reading and following my journey, you know that Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Form, Forge and Fold Metal Jewelry Designs is out in major bookstores now. (Yippee!) It’s also available on Amazon. But in order to get a signed copy, you gotta come to me. So, please leave a comment about….hmmmmmm…let’s go with a broad category of jewelry. Tell me what is your favorite kind of jewelry, or what you wish your sweetheart would buy you, or what pieces you long to create, or if you already have my book what project is your favorite one. All I’m looking for is something fun to read about one of my favorite art subjects — Jewelry!

Not only will you get a signed copy of the book, but you will also get an ICE Resin plunger and some of our Art Mechanique cold connection micro nuts and screws. I will keep the giveaway up until Friday morning 8 a.m. MST. And never fear, if you don’t win this one, there will be another give away soon over on the ICE Queen eZine while we are teaching workshops at the To Bead True Blue show in Tucson.