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.

I’m on Notes from the Voodoo Cafe!

Notes from the Voodoo Cafe

Ricë Freeman-Zachary's great blog. You gotta check it out!

If you follow my blog at all, then you know I absolutely adore Ricë Freeman-Zachary, artist, writer, educator, innovator and inspirer. Ricë called me up last week and asked if she could do a podcast with me about CHA for her cool blog Notes from the Voodoo Cafe. She left her request in a voicemail on my cell phone, so when I called her back and she answered the phone I said “Yes, Yes, Yes!” before even saying hello.

Ricë is a terrific journalist. She is inquisitive and always asks a ton of questions, even the hard ones, which she does to me and I have to internally groan while I think fast on my feet to respond appropriately. You know questions like….”what did you really think of such and such when she knows darn well that I’m the type of person that if I don’t like something, I just keep my mouth shut and talk about all the things I do like about so and so. It’s easier for me to live my life this way. I once interviewed a 96-year-old woman in a nursing home who led a storybook life. She gave me this piece of advice as a 21-year-old reporter:

“Honey, when you wake up every morning, you can choose to be happy or your can choose to be miserable. I choose to be happy.”

I’ve kept her sage advice in my head, and try to choose positive. Anyhoo…I digressed…AGAIN! This seems to happen a lot. :-)

Ricë wanted to know what the big deal is about CHA, and why so many of our mutual artist friends not only attend, but Tweet and Facebook and Pinterest, etc. If you have the time to listen to the Podcast, which runs about 35 minutes I believe, head on over to her post on our interview.

Belle Armoire Jewelry Winter 2011/2012 issue

This post is a little late in the making, but I wanted to ensure you’ve had a chance to see the Winter 2011/2012 issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry. Another great issue, which is even better than normal, in my opinion, because there are a couple of really good metalsmithing projects this time around. Plus, my sweet and talented friend Kristen Robinson has a wonderful artist profile written by my other incredibly talented friend Rice Freeman- Zachary. Also my new friend Cat Kerr is featured in this issue. Cat is one of our Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin Creative Team members and the stuff she has been making for us is divine!

I’ve already heard some feedback from half-dozen of you on my column “Art Choose You” for this issue. This column is the second-part in the series on having a website and/or blog. I’m thrilled to say this topic hit a nerve with so many readers, which is great because it really is the most basic thing, I believe, a person must do if they want to take their art-making skills to another level of selling, teaching or publishing.

I have friends of mine who are the most prolific artists. Seriously, they work fulltime jobs and then come home in the evenings and every weekend (they’re kids are grown) and are in their studios making jewelry designs to sell at craft shows or art events. Neither of them are technologically savvy, mostly because they just don’t care to learn because they’re too busy making art, so they have only the most basic of marketing materials – business cards and brochures. I keep telling them they’re missing the boat by not having even the most rudimentary of websites, but they honestly don’t care because they’re happy with what they’re doing. I shrug and say no more because who am I to argue with someone else’s happiness?

Here is my under-the-breath “however” though. This world is going more and more digital. My friends are missing the boat, and when they do decide to play catch up (and they will because the pressure for an online portfolio will become too great to ignore), it’s going to seem impossible to begin when they’re so behind the 8-ball.

So I wrote these last two columns for Belle Armoire Jewelry to help others know where to begin. If you are interested, be sure to pick up both the Summer and Winter 2011 issues.

In addition, I have an article in there on making forged bangles. This is a fabulous metalsmithing project that is such an easy way to get started in working with metals. No sawing or cutting. Just hammering to create lots of texture, annealing and forming around a bracelet mandrel. These bangles are featured in my upcoming book with North Light Books, so I’m excited to debut this sneak peek.

Thanks for checking in today. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I had such a great time participating in  Ricë Freeman Zachary‘s Destination: Creativity blog hop. You all were generous with your comments. I read every single one. It was amazing for me that so many of you took the time to really think about and comment on my video or on something I wrote in the post, rather than just a “Hey, pick me! pick me! comment, (which, by the way, would have been just fine because that’s the rules for a giveaway. LOL).

So…..drum roll please….the winner of Ricë’s book is…… Patti Durovchic!!!
Check out her Bungalow Gals blog. I find it interesting that when I went to her blog the post at the top was Art and Soul, a definite Art Retreat gal. Patti, I hope you love Destination; Creativity as much as I do. Please email me your address ( so I can get that sent over to Ricë’ right away.

Also, for those of you who are wondering about my silly title. I used to play Bunco with a group of wonderful and silly ladies who always seemed to get louder as the night progressed and the wine bottles (yes, numerous bottles) emptied. One of my friends used to scream “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” every single time she won a round of Bunco. I can hear Brenda’s voice in my head right now as I write this and its cracking me up. So the title is today’s Ode to Brenda.

Here’s wishing all of you a very Artful day!

Day 8: Destination Creativity Blog Hop

I’m so thrilled because today is my day for the Destination: Creativity blog hop put together by the vivacious Ricë Freeman Zachary. I can’t begin to tell you how much this woman has inspired me in the past year since we’ve become friends. Her creative spirit, her willingness to always be REAL in every situation and her ability to bring that out in others are attributes that I admire deeply in Ricë.

Also, her perfectly simpatico relationship with her husband, the Ever Gorgeous Earl is a wonderful thing to see in this day and age. I watched how Earl was ever-present and actively participating in every moment of this new book of theirs. Of course, its their book. EGE took thousands upon thousands of photos, drove every mile in their cross-country journey and passed out hugs to the hundreds of women (both instructors and students) at the various art retreats. (Truth be told, I’m always in line for a hug from Earl. Years of coaching high school athletics honed his body into a finely tuned hugging machine.)

In honor of Ricë and Earl’s journey and their wonderful new book, I decided to try something a little different for the blog hop; a video book review like she does for so many artists over at There’s no editing or fancy anything in the video. I gave my iPad to my son, stood outside our cabin and had him press the record button. It may be raw, but it’s real and definitely from the heart.

Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post so you an be entered to win a copy of Destination: Creativity for yourself.

Tomorrow is the last day of the blog hop at Jill Berry’s blog. So be sure to check out what she says tomorrow and leave a comment there too. And while you’re at it, you might just want to hop back in time and visit the previous day’s authors as well. You can still leave comments there for a chance to win. Think about it: 30 minutes of your time to read some posts at great blogs and leave some comments is all it takes for you to possibly get your own free copy. Unfortunately due to the high cost of shipping, international entries cannot be accommodated for this one. So sorry!

  1. Monday, October 3rd: Melanie Testa
  2. Tuesday, October 4th: Seth Apter
  3. Wednesday, October 5th: Mary Beth Shaw
  4. Thursday, October 6th: Carla Sonheim
  5. Friday, October 7th: Lisa Myers Bulmash
  6. Saturday, October 8th: Melissa Manley
  7. Sunday, October 9th: Deryn Mentock
  8. Monday, October 10th: Jen Cushman
  9. Tuesday, October 11th: Jill Berry

Destination Creativity Blog Hop

I think I’ve told you before, but my friend and fellow artist/writer Ricë Freeman Zachary has the most AMAZING book that just came out called Destination: Creativity, which is her one-year account of traveling the United States researching and writing about the best national art retreats across the country. Her husband, EGE or the Ever Gorgeous Earl was her official photographer, driver and caretaker who make sure  Ricë ate right and took care of herself during such a hectic schedule.

 Ricë has scheduled a blog hop with some fellow artists to talk about Destination; Creativity. Readers who leave comments on the artists’ blogs will be entered into a chance to win a copy of her wonderful book. There are 9 of us participating, so there’s a good chance of winning if you participate.

My day for the blog hop is Monday, October 10th. I plan to review Ricë’s book during my day, as well as say a bunch of other wonderful things about EGE. The blog hop begins today, October 3.  

Here is the schedule of the planned hop:

  1. Monday, October 3rd: Melanie Testa
  2. Tuesday, October 4th: Seth Apter
  3. Wednesday, October 5th: Mary Beth Shaw
  4. Thursday, October 6th: Carla Sonheim
  5. Friday, October 7th: Lisa Myers Bulmash
  6. Saturday, October 8th: Melissa Manley
  7. Sunday, October 9th: Deryn Mentock
  8. Monday, October 10th: Jen Cushman
  9. Tuesday, October 11th: Jill Berry

I can’t wait to see what the others are saying about Destination: Creativity. Shall we go look?


What the heck is a QR code?

Not sure if you’ve been following my QR code adventure that began this summer at the Craft and Hobby Association or not, but my conversations on the topic seem to have hit a target with some folks.

You can read my columns on QR codes at CreateMixedMedia, but now there is one more avenue to get some information on how sexy this new technology can be. Ricë Freeman-Zachary and I did a podcast on Wednesday explaining QR codes and all the cool things one might be able to do with them. Ricë is so darn fast and prolific that she already has the podcast live on her blog Notes From the Voodoo Cafe. Here’s the direct link to our QR code podcast.

If you don’t feel like following the links, here’s a general rundown. QR codes are short for Quick Response. They are those little squiggly square black-and-white boxes with squares in the corners that you scan with your smart phone. You must first download a QR code app on your phone, but these are free so it’s no biggie. The scan goes to a link and up pops up some kind of information on your smart phone, be it a website, a coupon, a video, a flash animation, etc. There are also QR tags, which are square colored boxed with triangles inside.

My QR tag is shown above. You need to download a tag reader from to read mine. While it’s a little difficult to do this when the tag or code is on the computer, you would need to open your app, hold your smart phone to the computer screen, the phone will scan the tag and my face will pop up on your screen.

Here I am at Art Unraveled this summer when I was excited to open Destination Creativity and see my little blurb that I wrote for the book.

Ricë has taken the information I gave her about QR codes and just ran with it. She created the cutest book trailer for her fabulous new book Destination Creativity and attached it to a QR code that she’s put on her MOO cards and make stickers with, etc. I’m so proud of her! I feel like a momma bird watching her baby fly away.

I am seriously in love with Destination Creativity. Ricë and her gorgeous husband/photographer Earl, truly captured the collaborative and community spirit found at these amazing mixed-media art retreats held across the country. When I write about where I’m teaching, it’s usually at one of these events and I just feel so blessed and lucky to be part of these experiences. I promise once you read, Ricë book you are going to want to book a flight to the next Art & Soul or Adorn Me! (hey, check out my workshops if you click the link).

Also, my sweet friend Barbe Saint John (who is also a wickedly-talented mixed-media artist and one of the people whom I bounce my ideas off of) also blogged about Destination Creativity and has some cute pics of us on there. Check out Barbe’s post.

So with all this good information please, right now, go buy the book! Next, listen to the podcast.

Here’s wishing each of you a truly Artful day!

Unraveling still from Art Unraveled

When I finished teaching my last class Monday evening at this year’s Art Unraveled, I was so happy to be heading home to my family. It’s been a busy summer and Art Unraveled was the last gig on my schedule until the end of October. I felt like all I did for 8 weeks was pack teaching supplies, pack clothes, get on a plane, have a blast at whatever event I was at, come home, unpack, do laundry, love on my children, make dinners and then pack again for the next trip.

Jen and a sweetie customer at the Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin store at Art Unraveled

So many of my fellow artist friends have been doing this kind of schedule for a long, long time. When I was an outsider looking in on their lives, I thought they had it made. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore teaching and am so grateful to be living the life of my dreams, but it’s tres interesting to get a full 360-degree view.

The beautiful Karen Michel doing what she does best -- inspiring and teaching

I seriously LOVE Art Unraveled. Linda and Chuck Young, who conceptualized and organize the event do a fantastic job creating a totally inclusive art retreat where everyone — teachers, students (every single person being artists) get to learn, test boundaries and grow in the air-conditioned comfort of the Embassy Suites in Scottsdale. The creativity of everyone there is an art high for me. I have trouble sleeping because I get so keyed up on all the joy and sharing one absorbs at this event. Seriously, it’s the closest thing I can think of to a hippie love fest, only its even better because it’s all about ART, particularly mixed-media art!

Kim Schulick and Susan Lenart Kazmer enjoying all the happy people shopping at vendor day Saturday at the SLK ICE Resin booth at Art Unraveled. Kim does all our shipping and receiving for ICE Resin and she is AWESOME!

In addition to teaching two resin classes, I joined in a book signing event with 13 other artist/authors hosted by the ever-amazing Ricë Freeman-Zachary. This woman is on my Top-10-coolest-people-in-my-life-ever list. It doesn’t hurt that her husband, Earl, is beautiful (inside and out) too.

Ricë Freeman Zachary being Zen? One of the many reasons I seriously love this woman. She knows how to have fun in any situation and LIVE life to the fullest.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book signing event where Ricë asked each artist to talk about where they find inspiration. Sitting at this long L-shaped table with my friends — Kathy Cano-Murillo, Karen Michel, Traci Bautista, Michael DeMeng, Ruth Rae, Mary Beth Shaw, Stephanie Lee etc. was an exhilarating feeling and I was so in the moment listening to each artist’s response that when my time came, it took me a beat or two to find my words. Actually, I spoke about how words inspire me and wend their way into everything I create visually.

Shiela and Sandy have a grand time making mixed-media art papers in my Resin paper Rocks class.

The best part about Art Unraveled, by far, was being in class with the students. We had such a grand time doing all kinds of mixed-media surface treatments to paper and then applying resin to transform them into something totally magical. Also, the people in my class “Eternally Beautiful Butterfly Necklace” were so kind to me and so eager to learn resin and metalsmithing techniques, I got quite a buzz from their happiness as well. Smiles, are indeed, contagious.

Another one of my beautiful students and the gorgeous necklace she made in my intensive 9-hour resin and metalsmithing class.

A quick note about the people who attend Art Unraveled. While every person is on their own path artistically at the event, with various levels of skills and abilities, every single person there is a born creative. Their artistic sensibilities and innate design sense inspires me every time to up my game and continue to work on my craft as an artist. There are people taking classes who are professional sculptors or big time book artists whose work blows me away.

Sweetie and cutie patootie Traci Bautista standing in front of this amazing mural at the Barrio Cafe Mexican Food in downtown Phoenix. Shush..don't tell Traci, but I see a resemblance. Do you?

I teach one more class locally at my favorite independent store, Paper and Metal Scrappers in my hometown, this Saturday. Then I settle in for a nice, long break. Plenty of work to do, columns to write and art to make, but at least I will be able to put my suitcases away in the closet for a while and hunker down at home, which is really my truest haven of all.