I’m featured in Jewelry Making Daily!

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How exciting that the day before Thanksgiving — a time for reflecting on all the things one has in life to be grateful for – that my book Making Metal Jewelry is being featured so prominently by Jewelry Making Daily Editor Tammy Jones. I am sooo super excited for her review of my book. Be sure to check out Tammy’s post 6 Tips and Solutions for Making Artistic Jewelry from Jen Cushman and Making Metal Jewelry. Also, my book is half off at the Interweave store now as a Black Friday special.

Because Tammy is tuned into all things jewelry and metalworking, she was astute enough to realize and hone in on the one technique I use in almost every piece of jewelry I make; drawing a bead on wire. In the book’s introduction I talk about how the Heavens opened up for me creatively when I first learned how to ball the ends of wire. I have found endless possibility for ideas with this very simple technique. (Rather than going into it here, be sure to read Tammy’s great blog post where she explains how to use a torch to ball the ends of wire).

I make something I call metal fibers – a cool term I learned from Susan — which is simply drawing a bead on both ends of a piece of wire. I use these pieces a lot in my wireworking for coiling, lashing, strength when attaching fibers to metal, and as pure design elements. Metal fibers are one of the easiest way for me to incorporate the look of mixed metals even into the most minimal of my metalwork pieces. (see the hoop earrings project in my book, as well as the forged bracelets). Every pair of earrings I make are pretty much finished off with a bead on the end. I do this not only for design, but also to keep any sharp, pokey metal from catching and snagging on clothing or hair. It’s actually a safety issue for me because I would be mortified if a piece of metal jewelry I made and sold was sharp or spiky or hurt someone.

ForkBraceletJenCushman

When I wrote Making Metal Jewelry over three years ago now (It’s been out for nearly 2 years, but like all books from a publisher it was 18 months in the making), I wanted to write the beginning metalworking book that I was looking for when I first grew interested in silversmithing. Because I come to jewelry as a mixed-media artist with a foundation in collage, I had no desire to do absolutely perfect silversmithing. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge admirer of people like Susan Lenart Kazmer, Richard Salley, Lexi Erickson, Helen Driggs, Robert Dancik,Thomas Mann and a hundred other people whose incredible talent and work knocks my socks off every single time I look at it. These artists (most of whom I luckily get to call my friends) inspire me to continue honing my skills in the sanctuary of my studio. However, a goldsmith I shall never become. I love my paint, ink, ephemera, fibers and found objects too much to jump ship. I think that’s why I’m so honored that Tammy Jones understands my work and where I was coming from with Making Metal Jewelry. Truly, I can’t think of anything better as an artist for one’s soul to be truly seen and accepted.

Blessings to you my friends. I hope you have an opportunity this week to reflect on the million and one things in your life you are grateful for. Tis’ the season.

JenSig

Hump Day Humor

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I’m working in my studio like a mad dog this week getting ready for Dallas next week (Sept. 17-21, 2014) where I’ll be teaching five workshops at CREATE. Since I’ve been at my bench more than usual, I thought I would share one of my favorite graphics that I found a few years ago on Pinterest. I have no idea who the originator of this art is so if you are the creator, please drop me a comment and let me know so I can appropriately credit your work.

I remember the first time I took a workshop from Susan in 2005 where I got to experience a blowtorch for the first time. I drew beads on the end of bronze wire and watched slack-jawed how the beads seemed to defy gravity as they balled upwards on to themselves when I dipped them in the blue tip of the flame. That was a defining moment in my future metalworking career.

Like always, I’ll be traveling with my plumbers torch next week. No worries, I don’t bring it on the plane. I pack just the hose and nozzle in my teaching box and ship it ahead of time and always find a kind local student to buy me some MAPP gas from the hardware store. I always have it with me, like a teaching security blanket. I feel it’s my duty to introduce women to the wonders of fire and power tools. Can I get a high-five?

I’d love to hear from you. Do you use a torch? What is your favorite kind? Let’s wax poetic about the wonders of fire.

JenSig

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!

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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.

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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:

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to this:

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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.