CHA wrap up

I had a blast at my first Summer CHA. As I said in a previous post, I’ve been attending the winter shows for about 6 years now, but have never made my way back East in July to attend the summer one. It’s true the summer shows are quite a bit smaller than the massive winter ones, but what they lack in size, they make up for in substance. I was impressed with the CHA staff members who really work hard to put on the shindig. There were some really wonderful opportunities for CHA Designer members who get their names and work out there amongst the Crafts Industry folks.

Crafty Couture Claudine Hellmuth and Jen Cushman

Our finished dress. Can you see the mess to the left? Oh my, we had ribbons and wire and flowers spread all over that stage.

By far, my two favorite parts of summer CHA were the Crafty Couture dresses, made my crazy-amazing-talented Designer member peers, and the “Minute to Craft It” mixed media challenge up on a big stage. The stage and the dress display were right in the middle of the show floor. My other favorite part of the show? Catching up with my friends whom I never seem to get enough time to chat with at busy, busy, busy winter CHA.

Claudine Hellmuth in action

Claudine Hellmuth wiring up our dress

The dress challenge was so much fun, particularly because I partnered up with someone who is soooo talented — my amazing artist friend Claudine Hellmuth. Neither Claudine nor I sew. Luckily it was a mixed-media challenge so we were able to conceptualize an art piece made of Claudine’s Sticky Back Canvas and her Studio paints, as well as some ICE Resin paper and bronze wire for the skirt structure. I may not have had a sewing machine, but I brought my jewelry pliers, mandrels and wire cutters and broke a sweat twisting and turning all that wire right there on the show floor. Claudine even learned some metal attachment techniques and was twisting wire like an old pro. She prefabricated the bodice out of Claudine Hellmuth Sticky Back Canvas before the show and made a ton of her adorable mixed media flowers using her canvas and Studio paints.

A winning ribbon...

Making the dress with Claudine was loads of fun. We’ve been friends for years and go way back in the mixed-media art arena. The other cool part is that our dress was one of the five chosen as a Judge’s pick to be included in the Jan/Feb. 2012 issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. Weeee!!! We also attended the CHA Award’s ceremony and picked up our winning ribbon.

(Funny little side note on the dress. We had to come up with a name for it months and months before the show. We knew it would have flowers so we thought we were being clever with the name “A Spring in Her Step.” However, once we got there and assembled it, we nicknamed her “dirty ballerina”. Much more fitting, no?)

On the stage. Mixed media dress by Claudine Hellmuth and Jen Cushman

Here’s a round-up though of the things I saw and experienced. First up, more dresses!

Julie Fei Fan Balzer of Balzer Designs amazing art journaling dress.

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer of Balzer Designs made this simply amazing art journaling dress on canvas. She won Fan Favorite in the competition and wow, she deserved it. Beautiful! (BTW, check out her clever post on summer CHA)

I love these dresses by my friends. The first is a recycled prom dress made with painted and re-purposed plastic garbage bags by Candice Windham. Also, LOVE this very spritely dress made by the Fab 4 – Carla Schauer, Jen Goode, Theresa Cifali and Suzann Sladcik Wilson. Both of these were also chosen by the judges and will be in the same issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.

Candice Windham's recycled prom dress. Love the painted black plastic garbage bags for the skirt!

Award-winning dress by my friends Carla Schauer, Jen Goode, Theresa Cifali and Suzann Sladick Wilson

Onto my next favorite thing about Summer CHA. The “Minute to Craft It” mixed-media challenge where show attendees were plucked from the audience to come on stage and have 10 minutes to make a project out things like a Crafty Chica wooden shrine box, a plastic tube flowers came in, etc. I was asked to host a couple of the challenges and thoroughly enjoyed hamming it up. Many manufacturers were very generous and gave away full goodie baskets for the first, second and third place winners, not to mention so much free stuff to the audience members. 

On stage with the Minute to Win It crafty mixed-media challenge. It was awesome to be a "craft celebrity" host.


It wouldn’t be a CHA without cutie patootie Elena Lai Etcheverry with Charity Wings running all over the show floor in her glitttery tiara and wings. This girl is so much fun, and she’s awesome about promoting manufacturers, products and designers. All the money she raises goes to charity, and you just can’t help being inspired by her giving spirit. Here she is interviewing me for the CHA live streaming show. I made some necklaces using ICE Resin to give away for the streaming event and also the Ebay auction.

Her Royal Princess Elena Lai Etcheverry with Charity Wings interviewing me at the summer CHA Show. She is so much fun!

I have some more fun pictures of the event. Think I will add those at a later date. For now, it’s time to catch up on work that’s been piling up since being away. I hope you enjoyed this Summer 2011 CHA wrap up. If this is a topic that interests you, now is the time to do some google searches. I’ve already seen some fun blog posts from others with lots of crafty eye candy.

Doing the CHA, cha, cha

Each year, I attend the Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show and Conference. If you’ve been reading my blog (and my old one prior to this one) you’ll know I’ve been doing this for the past six years and it’s a big part of my life every year. I always attend the winter show, as it’s the largest and the easiest for me to get to because it’s in California.

This is the first year I will be attending the summer CHA show in Chicago. I really hadn’t of planned on it, but when the head honchos made the theme mixed-media, there was no way I could stay away. This is the first time since I’ve been attending CHA that the art genre so near and dear to my heart has been spotlighted. They are calling it “Craft Fusion” (sigh); The Selling Power of Mixed Media (yay, for the second part!). Obviously the editorial comments in parenthesis are mine opinion.

I feel this is going to be a great 5 days. I’ve been asked and also lined up a number of promotional opportunities. Here’s a schedule of events:

Monday July 18th (educational program day) is will be participating in the Designer Roundtable Discussions where I’m moderating one of the tables. My topic, from 9-10 a.m. is “Catching an Editor’s Attention”. I will be talking about things that designers can do to get recognized by editors, as well as telling some of the things that people inadvertently do that turn them off quickly.

Also on Monday I will be meeting up with my friend and artist extraordinaire Claudine Hellmuth where we will be putting together our mixed media dress for the CHA Crafty Couture display. Neither of us sew so we have something really interesting planned. Pics and video to come next week. The display is being co-sponsored by the fabulous Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine so the best six (as chosen by attendees) will be featured in an upcoming magazine issue.

Tuesday at 5 p.m. and again Thursday at noon, I will be hosting the “Minute to Craft It” crafting contest. Remember the old tv show Craft Corner Death Match? Well, this is CHA’s version of the show. Three audience participants will come on stage and have 10 minutes to create a mixed media project using the inspiration project (created by moi) as a starting point. The winner gets a Teresa Collins Stampmaker by Photocentric. Other participants leave with cool prizes too that are generously donated by various craft manufacturers. My job: to be silly and funny and informative. Can I do it? (wink).

Tuesday I will be shooting my very own QR tag to add to my written promotional material and for a secret project coming up. I am jazzed about doing with WCK On The Spot. I wrote my most recent column on this for and will link to it as soon as it publishes.

Wednesday from 1-1:30 p.m., I’m meeting up with Elena Lei Etcheverry and Charity Wings to do an interview and give away lots of fun ICE Resin goodies, including some necklaces I’m making specifically for their live-streaming event. I met Elena Lei at this year’s Winter show and immediately fell in love with her sweet personality and her passion for helping raise funds for hardworking non-profits. There is still time to sign up for the event, I believe, so check it out.

Now that I have my new iPhone, I plan to do plenty of Facebooking and Twittering at the Show. I’ll be doing it from my Facebook Fan Page at Jen Cushman Artist. My Twitter account is just JenCushman, so please sign up to follow me. I plan to take lots of pictures to upload to both social media sites too.

Art Unraveled in 3.5 weeks

There is still time to sign up for Art Unraveled, a terrific mixed-media retreat the first week in August in Phoenix, Arizona.

Yes, I know….Phoenix in August??? While it seems like an oxymoron, this summer art retreat makes perfect sense. The event organizer, Linda Young, gets a killer deal on beautiful suites at the Embassy Suites hotel at $79 a night. These same rooms in high season run double that. No worries, the hotel has adapted just like every other Phoenician who’s learned to live inside an oven during the summer. They crank up the air conditioning!

I’ve been attending Art Unraveled since 2005, because it’s in my hometown and also because it’s where I got my start in mixed-media art. I truly love this event. The best teachers from all over the country come in and put on top-notch classes.

This is the first year I will be teaching the event, and I am so jazzed. I have two classes, a short 3-hour class on making resin paper and then an intensive 9-hour class on working with resin in jewelry-making. Students will be making the gorgeous butterfly necklace with resin-paper beads from Explore, Create, Resinate: Mixed Media Techniques Using ICE Resin. This workshop is the in-depth version of the book and I am keeping my fingers crossed people like it as much as I think they will.

There is still time to sign up for my classes. Please go to the Art Unraveled website and check it out. While you’re at it, hop on over to the Adorn Me site as well and see what I’m up to in Texas next March for that event.

Ricë Freeman-Zachary, whom I absolutely adore as an author, artist and friend recently did a podcast with Linda Young talking about Art Unraveled and Adorn Me. If you’ve never been to either of these mixed media events, take a listen for some inside skinny.