Teaching at CKU’s 10-year reunion

If you know me, or have read my blog or listened to a few of the podcasts I’ve done, then you know I re-discovered my creative journey 11 years ago when I turned from journalist to at-home mom, which then led me to join a local MOMs group. One of the ladies from my MOMs club was a Creative Memories consultant and invited me to a crop.

I instantly connected with some other creative moms and was totally diggin’ on the old-fashioned quilting bee vibe of doing something artsy alongside a group of women while laughing and chatting about our children and husbands.

Again, if you know me or have heard this story, then you know that I was not a typical scrapbooker from the get-go. I needed to get my hands dirty. I needed paints and glues and to create with things beyond die cuts and Mrs. Grossman’s stickers (all that was really available in 1999). About a year into my scrapbooking journey, I found what was then called “altered” art and my passion for what I now know as mixed-media really kicked into high gear.

Fast forward to 2011. I rarely scrapbook, though I still incorporate lots of photographs into my work that hold special meaning for me. I still love to make things using the images of my beautiful children and all the motifs of what’s important to me — home, happiness, love, family, passion for life and art. I also adore all the luscious scrapbooking papers and I still collect my favorites and incorporate them into my resin work.

Even though my art is completely different from where it began, I feel as though a part of me is remaining true to what I loved about scrapbooking so many years ago; documenting my story and that of my loved ones. The full story too. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the heartbreaking. Life is a full spectrum of emotions, and telling the truth and being real are still very much part and parcel to the way I choose to live my life.

Imagine my surprise when the amazing folks at Creating Keepsakes events contacted myself and my dear friend Kristen Robinson to co-teach at the upcoming Creating Keepsakes University Reunion. I just about fell out of my chair I was so surprised. I used to dream about one day being asked to publish my art or teach for CK. It was a secret dream that I shared with no one.

The website for registration went live yesterday. It’s reality. So, if you have a passion for scrapbooking, or mixed media or jewelry, this is going to be a really exciting event. The hotel is gorgeous. The event is in Southern California where the weather is always wonderful. Think about coming to join me and Kristen and a line up of “A” team talented artists and instructors. I’d love to see you there!

P.S. I’m actually visiting Kristen this week as I’m writing this post. Since I’m not at my home computer, I don’t have access to my art images. However, when I get home, I think I’ll dig up some of my old scrapbooking pages and post them here for old-time’s sake. It will be fun, as very little of this work has ever been published. It’s something that I’ve kept just for me and my family.

Teresa Collins Stampmaker Kit and Certification

I was invited to become a certified Stampmaker by Photocentric. This UK-based company has created a very cool machine and kit for making your own stamps from any image. This machine, and the photopolymer technology that Photocentric has developed, is truly an amazing thing for mixed-media artists such as myself who are always looking for ways to put my own stamp (pardon the bad pun) on my work from beginning to end.

(Note: As a Designer/Artist, one must always be extremely careful about copyrights because what I’m doing is for professional use. The reason I’m so excited about this machine/technology is that I now have the option of taking my own images and creating stamps that are going to be my own personal copyrights).

The class was held last Friday in my hometown of Phoenix, AZ. Serious bonus points for being close to home! Sally and Charlie, who manage the U.S.-based Photocentric, organized the certification class and will be repeating it again to a dozen or so Designers before the upcoming Summer CHA show in Chicago.

Onto the important stuff…the Teresa Collins Stampmaker machine and kit! Photocentric is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of photopolymer stamps. They do it on a big scale. They also created this amazing technology where they’ve managed to encase the photopolymer liquid into little packets, which are then sandwiched between two magnetic stamp plates.  As the creator of your images, you make a negative (like the old 35 mm film negative strip where the positive image is turned to black and the negative image is turned to white) and print it on your home ink jet printer onto a special transparency film. This film is inserted into the stamp plates, next to the photopolymer liquid packets and exposed to UV lights in the Stampmaker machine for 3 minutes.

This amazing technology produces a clear photopolymer stamp where the negative of the image (black) gets hard and the positive (white) stays liquid and is washed away in water. The stamp is then removed, put onto a plastic stamp pad, inked up and ta da!!!! a perfect stamp of your image is created, literally, in minutes.

As I played around with making an image and then creating my own stamp, my eyes grew wide with excitement. A new world of imagery opened up to me.

I have always used stamps in my work, even in 1999 when I was scrapbooking and very few people were adding stamped images to their albums. I still use stamps in my collages, assemblages and mixed media jewelry work with ICE Resin. I also use non-traditional stamps (such as egg cartons and punchinella) for mark-making on my work, but I think I will be replacing these with all photopolymer stamps. Now, I will be able to go into my vast collection of vintage ephemera I’ve collected on my travels and make my very own stamps…Jen Cushman originals. How cool is this?!?

The other great thing about my class last Friday is that I was honored to meet Teresa Collins in person. I have loved her designs since I began scrapbooking more than a decade ago. Though I rarely scrapbook any more, I appreciate the timelessness of her designs and how she has continued to stay true to herself and her vision as a Designer even though the scrapbooking industry has changed so much over a decade. I believe it was a good decision for her and the Photocentric folks to partner up with her name and their machine.

Coming away from the class with true excitement about getting into my studio to play and experiment with the Stampmaker machine, I think the thing I’m most excited about it how I see this as a tool. The TC Stampmaker has the potential to help me make my art better. Like my doming block, my ball peen hammer, my pliers, ICE Resin, my Purple Monster eyelet setter, my flex shaft…all of these tools allow my hands to create what my heart and mind envision.

As mixed-media artists, we collect a lot of stuff. With the economy being the way it is, it can be tough sometimes to spend $150-200 on a new creative “toy”, particularly if you take a class or see a demo, buy it and never pull it out of the box to work with it. Then, it’s nothing but a waste of money that could very well have been spent on the tools and raw materials you use every day for creation.

I can honestly tell you that I do not view this machine as a “toy”. As soon as I get into my studio and take the excellent instruction Sally and Charlie and Lara gave me and then run with it, I know I’ll soon be doing some amazing things with this machine. I plan to share my experiments and journey will you along the way on my blog. (I’ve even created a new category called Stampmaker, so it will be easy for you to follow my posts). I’ll share the good and the mistakes. I know there will be some mistakes of my own making as I work with a new material, but I also know that the technology of this kit makes it nearly foul-proof.

So, here’s to a new tool in my life. As Charlie so elegantly wears on his sleeve (his company’s shirt to be exact): I’m a Stampmaker, are you?

Spinning in circles

©Jen Cushman

I cannot believe it’s been over 3 weeks since I last blogged. Life is so crazy, busy hectic right now. I’ve been to the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee and returned home to some very intense deadlines. So intense, it feels overwhelming when I stop for even a moment to think about them. I’m still doing exactly as I wrote nearly a month ago, I’m still going. Like the Energizer Bunny or the Hamster on the wheel… there is no time to stop.

I went to Phoenix on Friday to take a Stampmaker certification class with PhotoCentric and the Teresa Collins stampmaker kit. I had so much fun! I’ll post some pics and tell you more about it in the next couple of days, I promise.

I need to jump off the computer now because its Father’s Day and my hubby and kids need me to stop working for a bit and devote my time and energy toward them. A balancing act. I feel I can’t stop, but I must. As crazy and wonderful as things are in my life right now, I recognize how quickly the baby is growing (she turns 2 next month!) and how much my son is turning into a man before my eyes. I need to honor my family and, sometimes, let another day of deadlines pile up.

So, until we meet again. Which will only be a few days. I promise.