Bead Fest Philly classes

Ok all you East coast folks and jewelry making aficionados, I’m talking to you! This is the first time I will be attending/teaching at Bead Fest Philadelphia for the summer show. Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Philly, even though one of my bestest girlfriends is from there and her mom is always offering for me to come stay with them and visit.

I’ll be teaching four, 45-minute beginner workshops, which is also a first for me.  The image below is a screen shot from some PR Interweave recently sent out. It’s always nice to see my work being featured. Take a peek over at the Bead Fest 2015 site. They’re lots of incredible instructors and classes already sold out, but there’s also some fun to be had for those who’re much more spontaneous and are ready to say, “what the heck? Let’s go!”

 

 

BeadfestPhilly

August is a busy teaching month

This summerJenCushmanAUAutumnHarvest1 turned a little busier than I had originally planned. A couple of new teaching opportunities popped up in the last couple months and I haven’t even had the time to put them on my website. I’ll be in Phoenix, San Diego and Philadelphia in August teaching metalsmithing, resin and wireworking classes. Here’s a quick run down if you’re interested. Most of the classes are filling up quickly, but there’s usually a spot or two open for even last-minute sign ups.

Art Unraveled — August 4-8

This is a wonderful national mixed-media art retreat that just a happens to take place in my hometown of Phoenix in August. Yep, you heard correctly. Phoenix, Arizona and August. Why? Because the lovely large suites at the Embassy Suites are on summer rates. Linda Young has been organizing Art Unraveled for more than a decade and brings to town some of the top mixed-media instructors across the United States. People always assume that because I’m local, I must teach at other Phoenix venues. The truth is that I rarely teach locally. Art Unraveled is the one time of year I get to see my fellow Arizona art enthusiasts. I also vend during the Extravaganza so that’s the time I get to really talk to folks and catch up.

I’m teaching a class on making wire forms with resin paper. While it’s a project-based necklace, I’m doing my usual of teaching lots of wireworking and jewelry-making techniques throughout the day. In the end, students will finish as beautiful necklace and leave with a strong foundation for basic metalwork — cutting, filing, torch work, annealing, drawing a bead, dapping and doming, wire wrapping, freeform wire and working with resin. Take a peek here at the Autumn Harvest description. I’d love to see you.

I’ll also be doing my Bangle Angle class at AU. This is a fun, fast and fulfilling class where I focus on forging and annealing –major metal fundamentals. Students will make multiple organic bangles. Anyone afraid of using a torch will quickly get over any fears. This class has one seat left as of this post. It’s always one of my most popular.

BanglesJenCushmanAU2

Also, for the first time, the amazing artist Leighanna Leight and I will be teaming up to teach a molding and resin jewelry class. Called A Face in the Crowd, we’ll be exploring figurative work along with Cold Enameling and jewelry making.  I haven’t been able to do a lot of team teaching in the past, but I adore collaboration and am excited to be working with someone as talented as Leighanna. It’s a two-evening class where we will get to have lots and lots of hands on fun.

AU15FaceintheCrowd1Jen

Next, I’m heading over to San Diego to do a wire class at the Charity Wings Art Center. If you want to spend an afternoon on August 16th learning new jewelry making skills, or wirewrapping techniques that, I promise, will take your work to the next level sign up now and join me at the art center. You’ll just need to grab your jewelry making pliers (round nose, chain nose and a sharpie marker) and the rest of the supplies and tools are waiting for you there. Bring your what-makes-you-happy drink (for me it’s a caramel iced coffee, but for some of my students it’s a nice bottle of cold Chardonnay) and a smile.

JenLinksHeartweb

Lastly, in August, I will be at BeadFest Philadelphia teaching five introductory jewelry-making classes using ICE Resin. I’ll be posting more about this in a few weeks with pics, so for now, here’s the link to take a look at and register. These classes are limited to 20 students and three of the five are almost at capacity.

I know I’ve been pretty quiet since returning home from France. It’s the end of summer break and I’m diving in deep to motherhood and enjoying family time. I’m only working a few hours each morning (getting up really early and finishing up before my kids even wake up). We’re spending our days kayaking or going on picnics, swimming at our favorite swimming hole and hanging out in the cool waters of Fossil Springs. Evenings include watching movies on the sofa, snuggled up in the cool air and cocooning ourselves inside. My kids start school next week and then it’s back to normal life. I’m cherishing this time and am pretty happy with my decision to get off my electronic devices so I can enjoy this “staycation”.

I’ll see you next week at Art Unraveled and be ready to party after my little break.

JenSig

 

 

 

A new direction

Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman

Susan and me in Madrid, Spain on our unintended day trip after our flight home from France was cancelled. Here we are doing one of the things we like to do — turning lemons into champagne by creating new experiences.

Have you seen the news on the ICE Resin blog?

We’ve entered an exclusive manufacturing and distribution agreement with Ranger Industries for Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin products. Susan and I are staying on to continue working this beautiful ship we’ve built and help steer it in exciting new directions. I cannot tell you how happy we are to have found the perfect partnership to make ICE Resin grow and bloom into everything Susan wanted it to be when she founded it eight years ago. This change is going allow us to focus on our core competencies. I do want to take a moment to acknowledge what an incredible business woman Susan is. Most people see this amazing artist, but they have no idea how much smarts, grace, strategic thinking and hard work she put into her position as President and Founder.  It’s been an honor to work with her.

ranger ink logo

Susan is now Creative Director of ICE Resin. She gets to do what she does best and loves the most: think, dream, build, invent and inspire all amazing things jewelry and mixed-media related. Watch out world, and unfettered Susan Lenart Kazmer is a beautiful thing to watch indeed. Stay tuned! I’ve seen a little bit of what’s to come and I’m blown away. As Education Director, I’ll focus on what I love — being an art educator and creating DIY programs to showcase all the the amazing techniques Susan’s developed over the years so others can continue to learn how to use resin and SLK products in their own art making. We will continue to teach workshops, create videos, do online education, write books and articles and pursue new opportunities. We’ll continue to do new product development for ICE Resin hand-in-hand with Ranger. This is the big time, folks.

One of the biggest challenges of being an artist-based company is that we’ve had to take on all the company responsibilities as we were growing. Finances, sales, manufacturing, trade show logistics, vendor relations, customer service and a host of other tasks that are absolutely essential to running a successful business. We’ve stuck together and done it, even though we’ve had some rough patches where we’ve looked at each other and said “What are we doing? We’re artists”!!!

We woke up every day and put one foot in front of another and grew the company. We “made the donuts” (remember that old Dunkin Donuts commercial?) because we have responsibilities that we’ve always taken very seriously to our customers, employees and creative team of artists. Last year, it became clear to us that in order to up level ICE Resin to the next big rung of success, we needed to find the right partners who shared our vision and also our deep commitment to our creative tribe and industry. This process was a long one that developed after many months and meetings. It was a literal meeting of the minds with every conceivable detail being worked out.

So begins a new chapter, more like a new book; a sequel. The characters are in place, the journey continues, the plot thickens. Keep reading. Hopefully we can make this next book a page-turner. I can promise you that we will never be out of ideas. With Ranger’s support, now is the time to fly.

Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman Boat in Paris

Cheers!

Viva La France

I’m so excited! The time has come for our workshop in France. I’m heading out Thursday and come this weekend, I’ll be wandering through all the amazing Paris flea markets with Susan and our students looking for centuries-old treasures to not only inspire me, but also to re-purpose into mixed-media art! After five days in Paris, we’re heading by high-speed train to the South of France for our retreat.

Since there’s still a million and one things I need to do before I leave, I thought I’d give you all a quick photo collage of some of the past pictures from our Relics, Ruins and Resin Alchemy workshop.

Ruins Relics and Resin with Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman

This workshop is a big undertaking with lots of logistics and a small, intimate group of people. Our students are not only looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience but are dedicated to digging deeper into their work and getting a full immersion experience in the best techniques Susan Lenart Kazmer‘s developed throughout her 25-plus art career. I’m really looking forward to teaching the ICE Resin and casting part of this workshop. Susan, of course, is going to be teaching her amazing soldering and caging, forging, brazing and wireworking techniques. I’ll be listening and soaking it all up, not to mention I plan to come home with some amazing new jewelry of my own.

Interested in learning more about our trip, jump over to the ICE Resin website workshops page. Want to see more on this magical retreat known as La Cascade, be sure to click the link.

france workshop logo

Once I return in two weeks, I’m planning to do a series of blog posts on the trip. I plan to share some video, lots of pics and more information about La Cascade and what it, and France in general, means for me personally and for my soul’s growth.

Bon Voyage everyone. Stay well, happy and creative.

JenSig

Word band bracelet

Jen and Colleen Best Friends

One of my best girlfriend’s birthday is coming up. Though she likes my jewelry, she tends to wear small pieces and likes a simpler, more clean aesthetic than I do (read non-mixed-media). During a recent visit to my local Michaels store, I picked up some of these Tim Holtz’ Ideology Word Bands on sale. I decided I’d make her a very simple wrist wrap in her favorite color – green. The beautiful thing about these wrist wraps is that they are a snap to make and really comfortable to wear, as all they are is some soft ribbon or torn fabric wrapped a few times around your wrist and tied in the back. They add a touch of color and have a young vibe. Every time I wear one, I always get teenage girls checking them out and commenting on how much they like them.

Jen Cushman Wrist bracelet

 

The key to this bracelet is gently curving the word bands. You can do this a couple of ways. If you have a pair of nylon jaw pliers like what you use to straighten kinked wire, all you need to do is place the metal tag in the nylon jaw and gently use your fingers and the pliers to create a curved elongated U shape to fit the curve of the wrist. If you have a bracelet mandrel in your studio and a rawhide mallet — this is how I shaped my bands — you can gently tap the tags over the bracelet mandrel to achieve the curve.

Once you have the word band formed, all you do is simply thread ribbon through the outside loops, making sure the ribbon is behind the words so as not to conceal it and center it in the middle of a long piece of ribbon. I used about 2 feet for my wrist bracelet here.

Finished bracelet wrist wrap designed by Jen Cushman

This trendy bracelet is a snap to make. Much quicker, easier to do and cuter (in my opinion) that running to Target to find a gift.

I hope you give this craft a try. In less than 30 minutes you can have dozen bracelets created for less than a dollar a piece.

JenSig

 

 

Happy Father’s Day

Wanted to share a beautiful video with you today.

It’s amazing how powerful love is when you look it straight in the eyes without flinching.

This was created by Echo Storytelling Agency as part of their #TellThemNow campaign. You can check out Echo Storytelling Blog here.

 

Edging toward the final transition

 

Clouds Photo by Jen Cushman

One of the hardest things to do as an adult is to watch your parents age. My parents are 85 and 87 and in poor health. Watching them grow older is similar to watching the light in a light bulb dim a little, then a little more, then a little more.

Each day has become a struggle to care for themselves and each other. My mother tells me that her life, with its almost 65 years of marriage to my father, three adult children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren “went like that” — she says as she snaps her fingers.

“Honey, it all goes by in a blur. Those years of working, raising kids, making a mortgage and monthly bills, changing diapers, family vacations, summers, laundry, cooking, hugs and kisses, bedtime stories, keeping up with the dailies…you look back and realize it was your life,” she says. “And then you get old and wonder where did the time go?  I can hardly remember your childhood, much less your brother and sister’s. I can barely remember last week. When did my brain get so foggy?”

The past three months have been especially hard as my father’s health declines. Two weeks ago, I was able to call in Hospice. Each day, he gets a little bit weaker. Each morning my mother calls me asking me if today is the day. I have no answers. I barely have words.

One thing I do have is commitments, and I take them very seriously. My teaching gigs are usually set a year in advance. Unfortunately, I was unable to keep one teaching commitment this year at Adorn Me because I simply could not leave home at the time. I look back at that week now and realize it was the beginning of the end.

Things got managed and more stable so I went to Bead and Button in Milwaukee last week, and in less than two weeks, I’m off to France for the workshop Susan and I have been planning and organizing for the past 16 months. Our students have put a lot of faith in me…in both of us…to travel overseas for an adventure and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m excited and honored and blessed to ensure they (and we) get it. I know being transparent about my dad’s upcoming transition coupled with the fact that I plan honor my work commitments leaves me vulnerable to criticism, but my only response will be that until you truly walk in someone else’s shoes you have no idea how she feels.

I have been doing everything in my power to juggle my parent’s financial and medical needs these past three months along with my normal life of being a mommy and wife and business partner and artist. It’s been really hard, but I’m proud of myself for doing it. To anyone whose ever gone through this, you know the hardest thing to do is to stay as strong as you can, advocate for your loved ones, and get shit done. Particularly when the thing you really want to do is stay in your bed and cry and wonder why. Or maybe just sleep your way through the pain and hope someone else steps up to the plate so you don’t have to. That’s not who I am, but I will admit I thought about it.

My innermost circle of family and friends have circled the wagons, so to speak, and offer me constant support though love texts, emails, phone calls that I let go to voice mail and even private Facebook messages. I cannot say enough how grateful I am for their love.

Each time I think of my blog and that I haven’t posted much, I feel badly. I wasn’t sure how to put this out there in the world. I have shared a small bit on my Facebook page, but even that’s been uncomfortable. I feel like this is my business and nobody else’s. But then I also feel strongly that if a person is going to use social media as a window into his or her world, it’s not fair/right/reasonable to only share the best and brightest. It sends an unbalanced message of what life is really about.

One of the most important aspects for me of truly living the artist’s life is to share what it looks like. To be authentic. To tell the truth. To be real. To put work into the world and let others judge it, and you, and yet still do it because you know it’s your life’s path and what’s required of you. To stay strong and make, even when all you want to do is laze about in bed to ward off any sorrows/monsters/egos/demons/drama that may be chasing you — real or imagined.

Today I breathe. Tomorrow, God willing, I breathe. And the next day and the next day and so on until one day I can try to explain to my beautiful then-grown son and daughter that life went by in a snap of my fingers.

JenSig

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. I took this photo at dusk in the plane on the way home from Milwaukee. I added the filter “blue haze” to it and a sun flare, but I just love it. I think it sums up how I felt when I was heading home to my family after another successful show. Despite how difficult it’s been and how hard it’s yet to be, I believe our world is filled with wonder, awe and opportunity.