The CHA Bra

I realized I never did post pics of the bra I made for Charity Wings that was auctioned off at Winter CHA. Here’s a bit of background. Charity Wings did a very successful Crafty Flash Mob at Winter CHA 2012. About 100 folks took over the convention center lobby before the show opened. It was my first and only flash mob and I had soooo much fun.

Resin paper altered bra

Elena being Elena, she had to up the ante this year. A very dear friend of ours in the industry was diagnosed with breast cancer and we were devastated. Elena and some folks cooked up an idea to do a mob flash where all the crafty peeps created altered bras and then “flashed” them before  Winter CHA 2013 show opening. No worries, the ladies wore pink T-shirts with their altered bras on top of the shirts. Because this show was a big one for us with our new releases, there was no way I could sneak out this year and participate in the fun. (sad face here).

As you all know by now, I pretty much support Elena in just about anything she does to raise money for the charities Charity Wings supports. I told her I would make an altered ICE Resin paper bra. I wanted to show the world how cool and transparent tissue paper becomes when a layer of ICE is applied to it, and well, I thought the breast area was the best possible canvas to get my point across. I bought a tiny little bra at the Goodwill, washed it up and then proceeded to cut the cups out of it, keeping the underwire, and attaching resin paper. I also made some wire leaves (a technique Susan created and taught me and a bunch of others how to do in her workshops) and added an Iced Enamels bezel and some German Glass glitter  to it. Just for the fun of it, I created an asymmetrical headband to go with the bra. When I finished the whole thing it seemed to me that I somehow channeled a modern-day Moulin Rouge costume inspired by our summer workshop in France.

The one thing I forgot to do was add extra “material” (resin paper) to the cups so the bra will need to be worn by one tiny little flat chested woman. Oops! I wasn’t exactly thinking of functional art now was I? The cool part of that all of the bras were auctioned off at a Westcott sponsored party with all the money going toward breast cancer awareness.  I have no idea how much money my bra raised,  but I do know that it raised a few eyebrows and was the object of a some scandalous jokes. Of course I love that, as art is supposed to inspire, stimulate and elicit emotion!

Altered bra and headband by Jen Cushman

And to let you in on a little insider joke, when I finished making the bra I held it up for my husband to see. I asked him what else it needed, as in did it need any further crafty embellishments? Being the straight man he definitely is, his response was simply a sly smile, a quick sideways shake of his head and two words; “Just breasts.” I had to laugh. I really love my man!

Headband by Jen

On another non-bra related note, I’m off to Tucson Friday night for the To Bead True Blue show and more workshops and our booth. I doubt I will have time to update while I’m gone. I’ll try to take lots of pics and post them when I return.



Happy Friday everyone! Thanks so much for all of you who checked out my blog and took the time to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about what kind of jewelry they like or want to make. I also want to give a shout out to Kristal for taking the time to tell such a sweet story about why elephants are a sacred talisman for her. It really touched my soul. I truly believe every human being in the world has a story to tell, and that its through the sharing and telling of stories that we connect with each other on a deeper level. I also want to send a quick thanks to our amazing ICE Resin Creative Team members who shared my giveaway on their Facebook pages — Jen Crossley, Cindy Cima Edwards, Lexi Grenzer and Pamela Huntington. These ladies inspire my soul with their gorgeous creations and I’m so blessed to call them friends.

So the winner of an autographed copy of my book is Yoli! Sent to my blog for the first time from Lexi. As you can see, I used and the winner was 22. I counted backwards in the order they appear  from the first person to comment to the last one. Yoli, I sent you an email and need your address. For those of you who didn’t win, keep an eye out on the ICE Queen eZine (our company blog). I will be sprinkling signed book giveaways here on my blog and also there on the company one too. To learn about it, be sure to read the blog and “like” our ICE Resin Facebook page.

random number generator

Happy Hump Day Giveaway

new metalsmithing bookI woke up on the sunny side of the street today after a terrible stress headache that lasted all day yesterday. There are times when all the different things we’re juggling in the air will collide on the same day and then all I want is to crawl back into bed and fast forward to another day. Luckily, the yucky headachy days are few and far between. Anyhoo…..since I am HAPPY, happy, happy today and because I have NOT been able to get my website re-done as of yet with the back-to-back shows, I decided it was time to finally do a book giveaway on my blog.

If you’ve been reading and following my journey, you know that Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Form, Forge and Fold Metal Jewelry Designs is out in major bookstores now. (Yippee!) It’s also available on Amazon. But in order to get a signed copy, you gotta come to me. So, please leave a comment about….hmmmmmm…let’s go with a broad category of jewelry. Tell me what is your favorite kind of jewelry, or what you wish your sweetheart would buy you, or what pieces you long to create, or if you already have my book what project is your favorite one. All I’m looking for is something fun to read about one of my favorite art subjects — Jewelry!

Not only will you get a signed copy of the book, but you will also get an ICE Resin plunger and some of our Art Mechanique cold connection micro nuts and screws. I will keep the giveaway up until Friday morning 8 a.m. MST. And never fear, if you don’t win this one, there will be another give away soon over on the ICE Queen eZine while we are teaching workshops at the To Bead True Blue show in Tucson.

The Whirlwind of 2012

Ta-daaaaa!!! Here is the cover for my brand new DVD on making molds and casting found objects.

Ta-daaaaa!!! Here is the cover for my brand new DVD on making molds and casting found objects.

I know I wrote about filming for Cloth, Paper, Scissors back in November at the Interweave headquarters in Loveland, Colo. It’s hard to believe that my DVD, Breaking Out of the Mold is already available now for pre-order and instant download at the Interweave store. Wowza, let me tell you DVDs move at a breakneck pace as compared to books! I also wanted to let you know that I had the sincere pleasure of meeting another mixed-media artist at the filming; Jenny Cochran Lee. Jenny’s work is incredible. I don’t sew hardly a stitch, so to see her textile work is just jaw dropping to me. I also want to thank Jenny because she did a wonderful post on me and my DVD on her blog today.

There are so many amazing things hitting all at the same time that it’s making my head spin! All of these were in the works last year and I was running as fast as I could to keep up with them all. Seriously, I look back at 2012 and shake my head at how in the heck we managed to get it all done. Finishing my new book with North Light, new product development with ICE Resin, a DVD and a new column with Cloth, Paper, Scissors and also the Designer Showcase next month with Belle Armoire Jewelry in addition to my normal Art Chooses You column for Stampington. When I meet someone and they ask me what I do, I’m not sure quite how to respond so I simply say I’m an artist and a writer.

Life was so busy last year that I really want to take a moment to thank my amazing husband and mother-in-law on my blog (even though neither of them read it. LOL). They were there for me every step of the way, cheering me on and making sure my kids were fed, clothed and happy. I also want to thank my off-the-charts-talented and totally brilliant business partner Susan Lenart Kazmer, who has been going even harder and longer than I have to run our company, while still managing to dream up endless amounts of creative ideas, building two lines (Industrial Chic for Michaels and the new Media Mixage with Spellbinders that debuted at CHA), teaching workshops, running the ICE Resin office and home front, publishing articles and writing her new book, “Resin Alchemy” that is due out in June with Interweave. (Not to mention raising two teenagers and teaching a workshop in France this summer). Then there was the other person who was standing by my side this past year. Kristen Robinson spent 2012 teaching, building her brand new signature line Rue Romantique, publishing articles, doing a DVD for Cloth, Paper, Scissors and writing her second book — as yet untitled — for North Light that’s due out this Fall.

One of the most interesting parts of all of this to me is that the three of us had to keep completely quiet on all that was going on. Sure, bits and pieces here and there were shared on blogs and social media, but most of the time I told Susan and Kristen that it looked like we were all taking long naps in 2012.

Silly me, I didn't get a picture of me and Susan at CHA. Here is one of us shopping at the flea markets in the South of France this summer.

Silly me, I didn’t get a picture of me and Susan at CHA. Here is one of us shopping at the flea markets in the South of France this summer.

My father used to always say I couldn’t keep a secret if my life depended on it. I can say now that he was 100% wrong. I don’t really care for keeping secrets because I’m just the type of person who likes to share. The best part right now is that I can finally breathe. The cats are out of the bag. The only thing left to do is tell the world about all our new adventures and hope people see and respond to the kind of passion we’ve put into our first real love – Mixed-media ART! As for my next goal in 2013, it really is getting to take that long nap I keep talking about.

Kristen and me at Winter CHA 2013.

Kristen and me at Winter CHA 2013.

To everyone who has hung in there with me on my blog this past year, thank you. This goes the same for the new friendships I’ve made on Facebook and the incredible women (and a few men) whom I have met at workshops across the country. I really hope that if no other message comes out of anything that I do it’s this one: Dreams do come true. Nothing is unattainable. You don’t have to be the most talented person on the block, or the skinniest or the prettiest or the most congenial. All you have to be is yourself. Oh, and it helps to also link arms with some pretty amazing friends along the way who always have your back in any situation. (grin)!

The annual CHA CHA CHA

Elena from Charity Wings always brings fun and excitement into our booth at the CHA shows. We LOVE her and Charity Wings!

Elena from Charity Wings always brings fun and excitement into our booth at the CHA shows. We LOVE her and Charity Wings! The peeps were just awesome to talk to and demo for. Keep an eye out for our ICE Resin videos with them soon!

I’m back from  California and the Winter 2013 Craft and Hobby Association trade show. This was such an exciting show this year for me and for all of us at ICE Resin! We’ve been working really hard for the past  year now on all our of new product releases. It’s been months and months of hard work behind the scenes and there was absolutely nothing any of us could talk about. It’s incredibly hard when you are putting in 12-14 hour work days at various critical points throughout the year and when people ask, “How’s it going?” all you can do is reply with a smile and a non-committal, it’s busy!

Finally, now it’s time! Susan Lenart Kazmer and ICE Resin has our very first licensed designer line of bezels and components. At the show, we introduced Rue Romantique by Kristen Robinson. The collection is vintage Victorian inspired bezels re-imagined for today’s jewelry artists and crafters who also adore a romantic, elegant and stylish collection. Kristen has been with us since Susan and I handpicked our very first design team. She’s also been in charge of our ICE Resin Creative Team for the past two years at its director. She is an amazing artist, teacher, wife, mother, friend and beautiful human being. I’m so very, very proud of her and thrilled to have the company selling her gorgeous new line.

In addition to Rue Romantique, Susan and myself have also developed a Cold Enameling program that is really quite amazing. We launched our Iced Enamels program at CHA and will be talking about it lots more and and also teaching workshops in all the brand new techniques we’ve developed over the past year. Be sure to read the ICE Queen eZine for lots of upcoming projects and videos from our wonderful Creative Team with the new stuff, as well as more videos and education from the two of us.

Here are some pics of the show (the mustache ones are from our team dinner at Buco di Beppo where there were 14 of us being silly and letting off some steam):

jen cushman and kristen robinson

Me and my darling Kristen Robinson. So thrilled to see her hard-earned success of her new Rue Romantique line.

My book signing of Making Metal Jewelry at the F&W booth.

being silly with mustaches

Me and Susan practicing being French Artistes from the Belle Epoque era.

jen cushman and encaustics

My one and only make n take that I got to do the last 2 hours of the show at the Purple Cow booth. They were directly across from us, which is why I was able to sneak away for a bit.

busy show booth

Katrina, our amazing office manager who also handles distribution, busily taking orders. We saw Katrina looking like this A LOT this CHA. Woot!

rue romantique

The Kristen Robinson corner of our booth. Sooooo pretty!

kristen robinson work

Kristen’s beautiful samples. She had the ladies salivating over her gorgeous art!

Chili-dyed ribbon tutorial

Chili dyed ribbons finished

My husband was off work for two whole weeks over the holidays, so we managed to have a lot of great family time. One of the things we’ve been wanting to do for a long time was make tamales, which are very big here in Arizona with our vibrant Hispanic population and culture. We’ve been gifted tamales from friends in the past, but they are so yummy, the taste always leave us wanting more.

So we watched a YouTube video, bought all the supplies, made the pork and did each and every step in this time-consuming process. There was a point in our tamales making — right after we soaked and softened the dried ancho chilies that I realized I had another craft in the making. The gorgeous chili color of the water was too lovely to toss down the sink. I carefully strained the softened chilis for the tamales and put the colored water in a separate bowl for later.

Honestly, I was so excited about my idea to dye torn white muslim strips that I could hardly focus on the task at hand. However, hubby kept me on track while we worked as a team to make our tamales.

The next day, however, I was rummaging around in my craft room (since we’ve moved to Phoenix, I only have a very small amount of craft supplies at our cabin up north.) I found my fabric scrap box and the white muslim I was looking for and the craft was on!

Here’s a little tutorial of how to make your own chili-dyed ribbons:

Step 1: Buy a large bag of dried ancho chilis from the supermarket. Split the chills in half to remove the seeds and stem. Place in a pan and just cover the chilis with water. Turn on the stove, heat to boiling and then let simmer for about 40 minutes. TIP: The longer the chilis soak in the water, the darker the color.

Making chili dyed ribbon step 1

Step 2: Drain the chilis in mesh strainer and save the gorgeous red water. Use the softened chills to make a sauce by putting them in a blender or food processor with a little chicken or beef stock. Add garlic if you wish. Freeze sauce for later or make enchiladas!

Chili Ribbon Step 2

Step 3: Grab white muslim fabric and begin tearing into strips. Make some strips wide and some thin. Make enough to fill the bowl.

Chili dyed ribbon step 3

Step 4: Place muslim ribbon strips into the bowl. Place a plate over the ribbon, covering it and then place a can on top of the plate to weigh it down. This will keep the ribbons immersed in the colored water and ensure an even dye.

Chili dyed ribbon Step 5

Step 5: Let the ribbons soak overnight. I was hoping for a nice dark red natural dye, but since I only left them overnight, they came out more of a lovely cream color. The torn edges soaked up more color than the center and have a gorgeous spice look to them.

Step 5: Once they are dyed to your satisfaction, pull the strips from the water and run them under cold water in the sink. Used your hands to wring them dry. Hang on hangers with enough spacing between the ribbons for them to fully dry.

Step 6: Leave them crinkled for an organic look (my personal fav) or iron to smooth and straighten. Use them in mixed-media artwork. I plan to use these in an upcoming journal I’m doing for a magazine article, but I also want to use some for necklaces and bracelets as well. They would be great to bind books with or stitch into clothing or scarves or for fabric journals.

Finished chili dyed ribbons

I hope you all enjoyed this little natural dye tutorial. Remember to look at everything around you as a possible art project. Nothing is ever wasted and everything can be re-imagined! It’s what mixed-media is all about.