QR Codes and U

Jen Cushman QR Tag

This is the QR Tag that When Creativity Knocks did for me. To see it, download the app on your smartphone by going to http://gettag.mobi

Just a quick note to let you know I’m on a three-person panel Wednesday talking about QR codes as part of a CHA webinar. If you are a member of CHA, you can still register for this free webinar by going to the CHA website, clicking on the education link and then online learning center. Here’s the direct link for more information.

I’m thrilled Ana Arujo and Scott Pfeiffer, owners of When Creativity Knocks, asked me to join them in the webinar discussion. Ana and Scott are experts on using QR codes in marketing, education and more. I’m adding my two cents as a designer and columnist and how people can incorporate this technology into their businesses.

Last summer, When Creativity Knocks created a QR tag and linked it to a video they shot that I did to introduce myself as a CHA Designer Member. If you want to try it out, whip out your smartphone and hold the QR reader app to your computer screen. I also did one for my column for Belle Armoire Jewelry, but the editors preferred a QR Code over the tag. Below is the video I did for them.

Jen Cushman QR code for Belle Armoire Jewelry

Here's the 30 second QR Code I did for my Art Chooses You column.

Since the seminar is this week and we are doing it via Microsoft Live Meeting, a program I’ve only used once before when my computer tekki husband walked me through a session when I expressed interest in how he does his work remotely, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all works. I’ll follow up on the blog next week to let you know how it all goes.

Step by Step

mixing resin

One of my step-out photos for Explore, Create, Resinate

I’m packing up my tools and supplies today to head off for the step-out photo shoot of my book this week. It’s exciting to continue moving through the process toward completion.

There is so much that goes into the creation of a book… so much planning and thinking and scheduling that sometimes it can feel overwhelming. That’s when you have to step back, take a big, long breath and just move forward. My grandmother used to have this silly saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Doing a book is just like eating an elephant. Sometimes it seems BIG, other times frightening, but then you just divide that sucker up into bite-sized pieces and start chewing. There are points of indigestion and hiccups, but there are also times of pure amazement at the process and the tangible accomplishments you can see along the way.

After all the step-by-step photos are completed this week, the imagery is ready to go to the graphic designer, whom I’ve had a few conversations with to ensure we are both on the same page, so to speak. She’s awesome, and I feel like I’m in very good hands. Of course, my editor has been with me from Day 1, and I’m looking forward to her direction and moral support this week too. There are 22 projects in the book and one necklace alone has 37 steps to it. Whew! Luckily the bulk of it has a more manageable 10-15 steps per project.

Ok, back to packing. I wanted to jump in here to let you know what’s going on and to tell you I’ll see you next week with an update on how things went. I didn’t necessarily plan to talk about the book as I’m working on it, but a lot of friends of mine as CHA said they find the subject interesting since so many artists have this on their bucket lists.

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

A few more days on CMM


Artist Series Toms Shoes

This month’s column for CreateMixedMedia.com is still up on the homepage for a few more days, if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I talked about my new Toms Shoes (pic above, aren’t they cute?), a gift from my sister and then worked my way into giving away your art to charity and how it’s really a wonderful marketing opportunity if done properly. I know it seems like a stretch, but I somehow made it work. You can find a direct link to it here.

In other news, I am working hard on my manuscript and there just doesn’t seem to be enough writing/working hours in the day. I’m sorry to have to say this, but my blog is going to start getting a bit neglected again. It’s going to be worth it though, in the end, because I’m SOOOO dang excited with how my book is coming together so far.

The pieces are made, I’ve taken the photos of projects (called Beauty Shots) and worked through some cover image options with my wonderful editor. Now, I have to write, write, write.

Please bear with me over the next few weeks. I haven’t left. I’m just taking a “strategic break” from social media. Wink to my friend Laura Fraderich, who taught be this very useful term and life lesson last month!

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful week!


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.

CHA Winter 2012 wrap up

Jen and Susan at CHA

Me and sweet Susan

It always amazes me how people can get their blogs done so quickly recapping all the wonderful things that happened at CHA. It takes me about a week to catch up on some Zzzz’s and get settled back into the routine.

CHA this year was busy, as always. I remember the days when I used to attend the show as a member of the press. I’d just show up and look around the party. No real hard work on my part except to see, do, gather info and figure out what and who was interesting to my readers. That was seven years ago already (?!) Fast forward to now, and boy, have things changed.

Picture of Kristen Robinson's collage

Kristen Robinson's wonderful assemblage art sample

We re-designed the Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin booth again this year. Coming on the heels of the summer show where the theme was the power of mixed-media, Susan and I decided we wanted to go full on mixed-media this show with amazing art samples from us, our Creative Team Director Kristen Robinson and our incredible SLK ICE Resin Creative Team members. We showed customers how our resin, bezels, ribbon, glitter, templates, new collage image pack and more could be used in everything from jewelry to collage to assemblage to journaling.

The show stopper was Susan’s chandelier and her cast figure ballerina with the lightbulb belly. I absolutely loved the lightbulb belly filled with glitter and a note. She is birthing new ideas and mixed-media excitement into the world, which is what we were hoping to do with our booth.

gorgeous cast resin figure by SLK

Isn't she lovely? SLK's cast resin ballerina that stole the show

Pre-Show fun included participating in a Flash Mob, which was the brainchild of Elena Lei Etchevery from Charity Wings and Wendy Russell. Elena organized the She’s Crafty Flash Mob to raise awareness for the charities that were participating at CHA. Kristen and I, along with 98 other folks broke out in dance right in the entrance lobby about 15 minutes before the show officially opened. It really was a blast and I can now say I’m so cool that I’ve been in a flash mob (grin). Also, I made a pair of wings for Elena that she wore around the show. I was pleased with the way they came out. Gorgeous 7 Gypsies Tissue paper covered in ICE Resin on a hand formed wing armature frame. I even used our frayed ribbons to make a rose and some girlie grunge goodness in the back where the wings attached.

Here’s the video from the Crochet Crowd, whom we met and fell in love with at this CHA. These guys are totally fabulous! We’re going to be working together in the future, so stay tuned.

Flash Mob She's Crafty

We were movin' and groovin' for charity.

Another exciting happening at the booth is that Kristen was on hand to do book signings of her wonderful book Tales of Adornment, where she uses ICE Resin in every single one of her projects. The ladies flocked to the our booth, as well as the F&W/Norht Light and R&M Distributors booths to get their signed copies. I, too, did a book signing with giveaways and had so much fun handing out goodie bags.

The three us of at CHA

Oh how I love these women. The both inspire me every day.

Creative Team members Tina Schiefer and JoAnna Pierotti were also at the booth doing some great demos throughout the show. It was JoAnna’s birthday on Sunday while we were there and we celebrated at Buco di Beppo wearing skinny stick-on mustaches that I bought in a little California shop when I was there last October. You can read Carol’s cute post about our ‘stashes over on the company blog.

Susan and the Crochet Crowd

Michael and Daniel of the Crochet Crowd with Susan

The other thing I really enjoyed was participating in the Designer Roundtable discussions, where people ask questions to CHA Designer members moderating various round tables. My topic was on looking at your work through the eyes of an editor, but the questions ranged from publishing books to Designer membership to product development. The conversations were exhilarating.

The only bummer of CHA for me was that we were so busy with the booth and customers that I just didn’t get to hang out with my artist friends as much as I’ve been able to do in the past. Boo hoo. Luckily, many of them stopped by for quick hugs so it was great to see them.

ICE Resin wings by Jen

Wendy is sporting the ICE Resin and 7Gypsies tissue paper wings I made for Elena of Charity Wings. They came out cute!

That’s about it for my CHA wrap up. I’m not sure if I’ll be attending the summer show in Chicago this year. Lots going on in 2012. Just have to wait and see.

Me? Award Winner, OMG!

Jen Cushman and Marisa Pawelko Plaid Award Winners

It’s Sunday night as I write this post. Winter CHA is over. We packed up the booth Wednesday, finishing about 5:30 p.m. and had one last quiet dinner in Anaheim. Thursday was spent on the road traveling I-10 home. I spent all day Friday snuggling my daughter, playing tea parties and taking a long 2.5 hour nap with her. I made my son his favorite dinner too. The weekend has been unpacking, cleaning my studio and home and reflecting on the days that passed and the events that transpired.

Obviously, the most amazing thing that happened to me this trade show is that I won the Plaid New Horizons Award for the CHA Designer member whose been in business 1-5 years. Marisa Pawelko, the Modern Surrealist, won the award for 5+ years. It’s a cash award — $1,500 each (!) However, the thing that means the most is the personal handwritten note and signed card from Mike McCooey, the President of Plaid.

I’ve been thinking about the award and all that it means to me. In addition, I’ve been thinking about what to write here on my blog about the experience. Honestly, I’m still at a loss. I feel like I need another week, at least, to process it, but in Internet time that would be like talking about something that happened a decade ago. So, I’m diving in, feeling like my words are all thumbs and my tongue is tied in knots.

CHA Designer Members Jen Cushman and Marisa Pawelko

Obviously, the words honored and blessed come to mind. So do humble and grateful. Interestingly enough, I find the adjectives fierce and powerful also seem to want to be part of my award thesaurus. Winning an award of this magnitude makes me feel proud from my bangs to my toenails. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. Me? New Horizons Award Winner? GET OUTTA TOWN!

If you’re like my husband or family, you’re probably wondering what project I designed to win this award. That’s the kicker, I didn’t. This award is such a high honor because only CHA Designer members can apply and Plaid executives decide the winners. It’s based on a body of work as a Designer, in addition to the professional steps you’ve taken, such as writing books and articles, teaching, community service and your short-term and long-term business goals. You have to say exactly how you plan to spend Plaid’s hard-earned money working toward a better future for yourself. This award is an investment by one of the largest and most influential craft manufacturers in the people they choose as winners. This means this year, they choose me. (Hit me with a two-by-four now please).

CHA Designer Member New Horizons Award

As I said, it’s going to take me a while to digest all of this. However, there are a few things I know for sure, and Plaid’s faith in me made it crystal clear. I am meant to do this. I have a passion for this industry. As a lifelong crafter and self-taught artist, I’ve been creating with every product imaginable for most of my life. I get excited when I walk into Hobby Lobby or Michaels and see something that inspires me. I love being both a customer and an educator at independent stores whose owners share the same passion for creativity as I do. I feel a jolt of positive energy every time I’m fortunate enough to stand before a group of mostly women at mixed-media art retreats to teach them techniques that inspire them to take their creativity to new heights.

Seriously, somebody pinch me.

My CJS Video

Thanks to all of you who signed up for my friend Nathalie Kalmbach’s wonderful program Creative JumpStart 2012, which ends today. My turn for giving advice on getting my mojo going when it stalls was Jan 17th. Not everyone wanted to do the sign up thing, so I decided to add the video to my blog here as a direct link.

I wonder how many of you are thinking to yourselves, “Why the heck is Jen wearing those big sunglasses?” I’ll let you in on a little secret. The deadline for getting Nat the video was Dec.17th, the day after I did my LASIK surgery. I wasn’t able to wear eye makeup for a month (!) so I had do that old saying…fake it until you make it and go all movie star.

Last CHA, I took a wonderful workshop by Julie Fei Fan-Balzer and Julie McGuffe about being on camera. One of the things they both said is to be sure to go a bit heavy on the makeup when you’re in front of camera because it tends to wash you out. We know this to be true because with all the reality TV shows now, someone is always “in makeup” getting themselves prettied up. Without those sunglasses, I would have looked anemic! LOL.

I hope you enjoy the video. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!