3 Little Houses All in a Row

I’m in sunny California along with Susan and the ICE Resin team setting up our booth. We’ve been working hard for months on the booth, art samples, new products and all kinds of crafty goodness for the Winter CHA trade show.

mixed media canvas by Jen Cushman

Just a quick post today since we’re all busy little artists. I thought I’d share a sneak peek of another one of my mixed-media pieces I made for the show. I call this one 3 Little Houses All in a Row. Sorry the pics are not the best. I had to grab them quickly. It was actually still drying on my kitchen table so I couldn’t even pick the canvas up for a better view.

This is a large 18×24 canvas that is really bright and colorful. I added houses made of hardboard with images from our brand new Art Mechanique collage pack that I resined with our signature product, ICE Resin. There are bezels, resin paper leaves in the tree, a sweet little clay birdie and even some Industrial Chic charms on this canvas. Everything but the kitchen sink!

mixed-media art by Jen Cushman

Be sure to check in with the ICE Queen eZine to see what we’re up to. Carol, our social media maven, is at CHA to collect some video and information for us.

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

CHA Giving Tree Ornament

I’m off to do the CHA CHA CHA. (It’s an old joke, but I never seem to tire of it). This time, I’ve packed up my car with extra stuff for our booth -Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin Booth #1029 — along with my luggage, too many shoes and my sweet friend Carol LaValley, who does the social media for us.  

The booth has been shipped ahead of time and is waiting at the Anaheim Convention Center for me, Carol, Susan, Kristen and a my sweet hubby to assemble it and get it looking “wowza” for the Winter CHA 2012 trade show.

In my car is my handmade ornament for the Giving Tree, which is part of CHA’s theme this year The Power of Community, where a handful of really wonderful charities are participating in all kinds of activities at the show. Each CHA show, Designer members are given the opportunity to make something using products from manufactures they work that will be featured on the show floor. My friend and fellow designer Candice Windham is the coordinator of this program and she does such a fabulous job working with Keri Cunningham of CHA every year on a cool theme/project.

The summer theme of Crafty Couture was so big that I knew it would be hard for Candice and Kerry to top that one. I think stepping back a bit and making this show’s  designing opportunity all about charity, particularly in this economy and how much folks are needing some extra help, is a really lovely thing to do. I’m 100% supportive and all in. If you are at CHA, you can see all the designer’s ornaments at the Community Park.

I chose to make an ornament for Charity Wings, just because they’ve kind of become my pet project this year, which I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve been reading my recent blog posts. I love their “Crafting for a Cause” motto and how the volunteers raise money for all kinds of great charitable organizations. Plus, I adore hearts and their logo is a heart with wings and a crown. Not that’s something I can sink my artistic chops into!

My ornament is an acrylic house shape that I hand cut and layered with vintage sheet music paper that I resined up and then added color to with alcohol inks. It has a die cut swirl that I cut from my stash of Grunge Board that I stained with inks. The focal is one of my favorite SLK bezels, which is is the large rectangle hobnail shadowbox, filled with magnetic poetry pieces, vintage rhinestone chain and ICE Resin. The entire background was sealed in a lovely layer of ICE and allowed to dry overnight.

I formed a paperclay heart by hand, painted it and added highlights. I also took copper wire pieces that I forged and handformed into wings and heated with a torch to give it a lovely patina. To complete the piece, I added a whimsical metal crown to the heart and added a copper wire hanger where I drew a bead on either end for the perfect cold-connection. It just needed a tiny bit more so I added a large wirewrapped pearl and crystals and some on our gorgeous silk ribbon. This stuff is luscious!

The ornament will be donated to Charity Wings and auctioned off for charity. I’m not sure yet if that will be done at the convention, or if it will happen post-CHA. I’ll be sure to let you know if it’s the latter though in case you’d like to own it for yourself.

CHA Video DejaVu

Since I’m heading to Winter CHA this week, I thought it would be fun to share the video Elena Lai Etchverry, founder of Charity Wings, and I did together this past July at Summer CHA. I was so in the moment while Elena was interviewing me, that I honestly just watched this film again the last week. As I’m viewing it (oy, it’s always so hard to see oneself on film isn’t it???), I can’t help but cringing at some of my silly comments. But then I just shrug my shoulders because this is me. It’s who I am when the camera rolling, or when I’m talking to a group of people or even amongst my friends. What you see, baby, is what you get.

Elena and I are teaming up again this coming CHA. I made an art piece for the Giving Tree, where CHA Designer members picked a particular charity and made an ornament for them to auction off to raise money for charity. SLK/ICE Resin is also sponsoring Charity Wings CHA Live Streaming program this year, which Elena and her team do an amazing job covering the behind-the-scenes happenings at the world’s largest Craft wholesale trade show. Here is some more information if you wish to sign up for the program. Insider crafting info and a tax write-off? What’s not to love?

I doubt I will have time to make new posts too often at CHA because we will be swamped with the Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin booth and my other gigs as a CHA Designer Member, but our Social Media Maven, Carol LaValley is coming with us this time to update the company blog and take lots of short little videos during the show. Be sure to check out the ICE Queen eZine and look for me and the rest of the team throughout the week there.

Found Objects and Mold Making

I have a Workshop in the January issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine on making molds of found objects and then casting the molds with both ICE Resin and resin clay. This was such a fun article to write because I was able to spend the better part of a week in October using up more than 2 big containers of my Art Mechanique molding putty on all kinds of bits and pieces I have lying around my studio and almost as much resin and resin clay.

Oh I do love to make molds and cast objects. It really is addicting once you get into it. The little baby above is a frozen Charlotte doll body and face that I made a mold of and then cast in resin clay. I then painted her up to look exactly like the real thing. Her sculptural skirt is 18-gauge bronze wire that I hand formed into a cage and drew a bead on either end for her feet. The rest is a little bit of resin paper, some paint, vintage lace scraps, ribbon and 7Gypsies tissue paper and bookbinding tape from my stash.

The article shows you very clearly how to do this mixed-media art technique step-by-step. My friend, Carol LaValley did the step-out photos (she’s also the person who did it for my book) so they are nice and close on the hands. I’ll be teaching mold making of found objects and resin clay this summer at the CREATE Art Retreat hosted by Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.

The issue also features photos of the dresses made for Craft Couture at Summer CHA. Mine and Claudine Hellmuth’s dress is in there, along with the other winners.

I’ve had people ask me why I don’t also show the step out photos in my blog as a free tutorial. The reason is because once you agree to write an article for a magazine, they own the copyright to the work for usually the first 90 days after the publication hits the newsstands. Even though it’s my art work and writing, if I put the information on my blog now, I would technically be competing with the publisher. I can show you sneak peeks and also a scan of one page or so, but not show it in its entirety. I only mention this because there are often a lot of questions regarding publishing and, particularly with the availability of free information on the Internet these days, folks are often surprised to learn there are some definite professional rules.

If you are a fan of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine, you’ve probably already seen the workshop. If you only purchase it occasionally, head on over to your local bookseller when you get a chance. I’d be most appreciative!

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day.

CHA Live Winner

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner….Beverly Jordan, congratulations you won the LIVE from CHA All-Access Pass giveaway courtesy of Charity Wings. I’ll email you in a bit to get your addy and pass along the info that Elena needs.  

Thanks everyone who played along. Your comments were awesome! I will be forwarding them along to Elena as well so she knows what ya’ll are looking forward to seeing. You can be our focus group of sorts!


My turn for Creative Jump Start

Today is my day to be featured on my friend Nathalie Kalbach’s awesome program, Creative Jumpstart 2012. Nat asked a group of creative women to share tips and advice for getting over the doldrums when we experience blocks. You won’t be able to view my video unless you’ve subscribed to Creative Jumpstart, but that’s as simple as clicking here. It’s free and the information the artists have provided so far has been just amazing. I’ve checked it out every day.

The one bummer for many of you whom might be learning about me for the very first time is that I do not have a lot of new work to show you. I spent the later half of 2011 in my studio making a ton of  jewelry, but it’s all for my book coming out in November. Everything I’ve made stays under wraps until it’s published. The photos featured here are from my first book Explore, Create, Resinate.

I know that many of you work in scrapbooking or art journaling. That’s how I began my creative rediscovery. When my son was born 12 years ago, I left my career as a newspaper journalist to be an ar-home mommy. I joined a mother’s club to make new friends and a woman introduced me to Creative Memories. I was hooked, but immediately started adding crazy things like paint and texture and lumpy bumpy objects. I liked to work fast, so I used rubber cement to glue down everything but my pictures (because I didn’t want them disentegrating). As I broke every rule there was at the time, my invites to crops kept getting fewer and fewer. It used to bother me tremendously to be shunned by my peers, but now, what can I say? I’ve grown.

Within six months of my son’s birth,  I went back to work on a freelance basis writing features. I was asked to be the Visual Arts Editor of a swanky magazine and that’s when my love of fine art, as well as my informal art education, really began. I’ve continued to write and consider words to be my first love. Mixed-media art, particularly jewelry, is my passion these days, but unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow me to make art every day. I do write every day Monday-Friday, but that’s because of my job.

I make the act of creating a priority, but then my articles, my work with Susan Lenart Kazmer and ICE Resin, my book, teaching and my family are also priorities. In addition to my son, I have a 2-year-old daughter. Some days work fills more of my time, but then I balance it out with quality family time.  When I go too long without physically making something I get grumpy and my husband points out that I haven’t taken any time for me. I truly admire people who create every single day, but alas, I’m not one of them.

Fortunately, editors keep me busy so I do get to make art regularly as part of my work. Thank goodness for deadlines! Plus, the organizers of art retreats and independent stores need good class samples, so I’m always creative there.

The thing, though, is that even though I don’t get to work it every single day, these projects stem from the early years when my son was little where I did get to create every day. It comes from all those moments of  art for art’s sake when I had no idea I was working and honing my craft in order to prepare myself for a career.

So here is really my very best piece of advice for you. Know in your heart that Art Chooses You. It chose you at birth when you got that extra special way of looking at the world, when a need for being creative was programmed into your DNA. Whatever your goals or dreams are for yourself creatively are separate from who you are, which is already an artist. It doesn’t matter if you make art under the covers with a flashlight not letting the world see your creations, or if you publish them on your blogs or magazines the world to see. That part of the equation is the final product, not the inherently beautiful act of creation itself.

What matters is that you make stuff. Be it. Own it. Live it. The rest will come because where you put your focus, is where you succeed (or fail if  the focus is negative). You are already a success because Art Chose You.

Thank you so much for taking this time to visit my blog today and, hopefully, get to know me a little better. If you wish to learn a little bit more, here is a post I wrote for my friend Traci Bautista when she asked for advice for a marketing program she created. You can also see my website. If you are looking for some great classes this year, check out where I’m teaching. I love to meet my blog and column readers in person.  

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

LIVE From CHA Giveaway

Have you heard about the LIVE from CHA webcasting/livestreaming event put on by the fabulous organization Charity Wings? If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to walk around the huge Winter Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show, Elena Lai Etcheverry (the founder of Charity Wings) began this very fun livestreaming a few years ago where they cover the opening 2 days of the event.

Elena began Charity Wings seven years ago to combine her love of crafting with her background in event planning and fundraising to raise money for charity. So far, the Charity Wings volunteers have raised more than $360,000 for great causes. I met Elena last Winter CHA and found out more about her organization. I’m impressed and have been lending a hand whenever I can.

Elena jam-packs CHA Live with tons of interviews from your favorite craft manufacturers and interviews with some of the best and most well-known Designers. In addition to the event, participants get a kit of products shipped to their home that are donations from all the supporting manufacturers. The kit alone is easily worth the $39 price of the pass in brand new product that’s being debuted at CHA. (

Side note: Isn’t the logo above so cute? It was designed by my fellow CHA Designer Member Jennifer Priest who’s a self-proclaimed “addicted scrapbooker”. Love her blog!)

CHA Live takes place January 29 and 30th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to the kit, manufacturers donate prizes throughout the livestreaming so there are lots of chances of winning product AND handmade art. We’ll be participating with Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin, giving away goodies bags worth more than $100, which includes a handmade jewelry piece, some ICE Resin, bezels and a signed copy of my book, Explore, Create, Resinate. She’ll also be at our booth too, so you’ll get a tour of what our ICE Resin team has been working so hard on for the past couple of months. We’re just one of many.

So, here’s the cool part. Elena is giving me (along with other designer friends of mine) the chance to GIVE AWAY an exclusive All Access Pass to CHA to one lucky winner. If you live in the U.S., I will pay the cost of shipping for the kit, which is around $10.50. If you happen to sign up for the giveaway and live in Canada or International, I’m sorry but you will need to fund the shipping costs. Please email info@charitywings.com to get a price quote.

All you have to do to be entered to win the All Access Pass, is leave a comment here to let me know what kinds of products and ideas you are most excited about seeing at the upcoming Winter CHA trade show. Because kits are being shipping at the end of the week, the contest will close Thursday Jan. 19th at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Good luck everyone!