Two more DVDs — out of the box upcycling

Alrighhhhhht! Today I get to tell you about two more of my brand new DVDs with Interweave and Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.

ForkHookdvdCoverFirst the fork book hook (say that 5x fast). Yeah, I’ll admit it. I’m kinda proud of this one. Cherie Haas, Online Editor for Cloth, Paper, Scissors tells my story over on the magazine’s blog today, so be sure to hop on over there and check out what inspired this idea. What I will tell you is that I have a thing for vintage stuff. My studio is filled with objects from the past, and, like many mixed-media artists, I find satisfaction in recycling – upcycling – old things into art. The more mundane and useful the thing is, the more I enjoy making it the focal in my work. I love the old days when craftsmen put their heart into creating beautiful and useful objects. Silverware, reading glasses, buttons, tattered books, broken jewelry…(the list goes on) all make my heart skip a beat when they offer themselves to me for transformation.

Wondering how to use this sweet little Upcycled Silverware Hook ? I think it’s the perfect hanger for your purse or keys when you walk in the door. You can also use it as home decor as a hook to hang a picture from. I want to make a dozen of these and hang my necklaces from them. You can even display a jaunty old hat, but then what a shame to cover up the clever fork curl.

Fork Book Hook Full Shot Jen Cushman

 

JenCushmanForkHookDetail1LR

 

JenCushmanForkHookDetail2LR

Mica necklace dvd cover Jen CushmanNow on to the Stamped Metal and Mica Pendant that comes from my book Making Metal Jewelry. Only it’s really a necklace and not some crazy necklace turned nightshade. How normal of me?! The thing about this piece that I really wanted to share with people is how you can easily incorporate your own photographs into wearable art. Though I used a vintage image in this project because it went with my theme, I might just as easily made this a necklace featuring my kids or my mom or my favorite pet. In my book, the main focal image is a color photograph of flowers I took at a outdoor market. The pinks and cream in that image just makes me happy. There’s lots of technique in this video too. From cutting sheet metal to stamping, wirewrapping, setting rivets, patina and more. Another part of this DVD that I’m crazy about is teaching people how to easily make their own chain link with nothing but some wire, tools, a torch and a little ingenuity.

Cooper Necklace Metal Stamping Jen Cushman

 

Metal Stamped Copper Pendant Jen Cushman

 

If you came to my blog from the Cloth, Paper, Scissors blog and you may be here for the first time, then I want to thank you. I’d love it if you took a moment to subscribe to my blog or even “like” my Facebook page. I also have Twitter and Instagram is that’s your thing too.  If you’re a subscriber to my blog, thanks for reading this and be sure to jump over to CPS next to check it out.

Also, if you are looking to take a workshop from me in person, be sure to head over to my website to see where I’m teaching this year. For all your Southern California friends, I’m sooooooo thrilled to be teaching at a new venue for me, an old hardware store turned art retreat workshop space that is perfect for intimate gatherings of students. I head out pretty soon and will be teaching at Make Art in LA April 10, 11th.

Here’s wishing you a very Artful journey!

JenSig

A little behind the scenes filming pics

BehindthescenesFW4

Action shot of me talking about the stamped metal and mica pendant that I’ll be showing how to make. You can see my books and DVD on the side table. Garrett moved me to a jeweler’s bench for this project rather than the big table that I needed for my other mixed-media home decor videos.

I cannot believe it’s 2 days until Christmas! Where did the time fly? I swear it feels like it was just Thanksgiving, doesn’t it? It’s also hard to believe I had not one, but two trips in between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The first was a whirlwind trip to the ICE Resin home office in Ohio for a couple of days for an important meeting and then the second trip was to Fort Collins, Colorado for two days of filming at F+W for Craft Daily.

It was a little odd to be back in Denver. I was there last year to do my video Breaking Out of the Mold with Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. That’s when the home office was in Loveland and was still part of Interweave even though F+W had already acquired it. There’s been lots of changes in the past year as things are getting much more integrated, including a whole new office complex and filming studio in Fort Collins. Of course, I had seen images of the new studio since that’s where my friends Jenn Mason and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer shot the Mixed-Media Workshop. It’s one thing to see it on your computer screen or iPad and entirely different thing to see it in person and also be the “talent”.

BehindthescenesFW1

Ted taking a shot of my final piece for the marketing department and my editor.

In two days, I shot four new videos for Craft Daily. I’ll be showing people how to make a vintage message board with cast ICE Resin hardware; an air-dry clay with wings collage using ICE Resin; an out-of-the-box vintage book hook where I take the fork bracelet from my book Making Metal Jewelry and turn it into a vintage book hook and, finally, a metal stamped vintage photo/mica pendant with handmade wire chain using Art Mechanique metal sheet and wire. I’m not exactly sure when these videos are planning to air, but I’ll be sure to let you know the details as I know them.

BehindthescenesFW7

Notice the camera overhead? This one gets the hands shots and see exactly what I see from the same vantage point. There are two other cameras going as well. One that is being operated by Brian and zooming in on action and then one straight on looking at me.

The fun and different thing for me this time with the filming is that F+W now hires a professional makeup artist to come in each morning and do the talent’s makeup. (I have to keep using that word because I chuckled when I heard people referring to me that way). Her name is Keegan and she’s a crack up. It was the first time I’ve had my foundation airbrushed on my face and then contouring done to bring up my cheekbones. She asked me if I wanted to try individual false eyelashes and I immediately responded, “Sure, that sounds fun!” I sooo like to try new things and have new experiences that I’m usually game for just about anything the first time. I have to admit the eyelashes made me feel kinda girlie and dressed up. I even decided to try a little harmless flirting as Garrett was getting my mike set.

There were also two lovely ladies on the set to ensure that I had anything I wanted or needed. Tamara helped me with all my step outs and my projects. She brought me hot tea for my throat and lozenges (I started to get a sore throat my second day of filming. My son came down with it the day before). She was kind and generous and really made sure I had everything at hand while the cameras were running. Jill was also there as another behind-the-scenes person who ordered my lunch each day, took process photos, photos with my camera for my own blog, and generally ran through the F+W checklist of everything marketing needs to complete its job. Everyone kept telling me that I was a pro and doing a great job. I’m sure they say that to all the talent, but it was a little ego boost to get kudos for doing well.

BehindthescenesFW5

The team! From Left to right: Jill, Tamara, Keegan, me, Brian and Ted. Every single person was a total pro and made the whole thing run smooth from A to Z. Garrett was on another beading video shoot this morning so he’s not in the pic, but he is so cool. I worked with him on m last DVD shoot.

When I posted a couple of pics on my Facebook page, a friend and fellow artist of mine asked if filming is nerve wracking. The thing is that the first 15 minutes are horrible. I think even to the most seasoned of pros. Once the jitters settled down and I started to talk and teach to the camera just as if it were one of my students, things went much smoother. By the time Day 2 came, it was pretty much old hat and I could have stayed there for the rest of the week just doing what I do.

BehindthescenesFW3

End of day one filming and holding up my mixed-media heart collage. There are so many techniques in this class. I incorporated techniques from ceramics, paper crafting, resin and jewelry making into this collage.

I did have a moment back in my hotel room where I was just hanging out thinking about the day. That made me remember when I made the decision to pursue mixed-media as a full time career and then fully dedicating myself to living the artist’s life. I made the decision in November 2006. It’s now December 2014, and I can honestly say I have checked off every goal I set for myself in the beginning. I’ve had opportunities I never dreamed of come from my decision to work hard and show up every single day. I never once wrote in my goals list that I wanted to make videos for the largest arts/crafts publisher, but it happened. Seriously???? Whaaaatttt??? Incredible!

behindtehscenesFW8

All cleaned up and lights out. Ready for the next artist to arrive and get to work. There are some amazing folks lined up to teach for Craft Daily. If you love learning new art techniques, you’ll want to keep an eye on this website.

I know from meeting some of you at CHA or Tucson or the other shows we do that you read my blog just to see what I’m up to. I also hear feedback that you like it when I talk about some of the behind the scenes stuff. I know it can all seem so surreal. Cameras and microphones and studio sets and green rooms. Honestly, it’s surreal to me when I stop and think about it. On the other hand, though, it’s perfectly normal. For me, making art means education. What I get to do is talk about art in small group settings like retreats, or one on one via a camera. Talking about art and making art = Dreams Come True.

I hope that in these final hours of counting down to the Holidays that you are feeling a sense of accomplishment, joy and creativity in your own lives. Don’t forget that you’re the “talent” in your own lives. If nothing else for 2015, buy yourself a pair of eyelashes and see what it feels like to flutter them at someone. Shushhh, don’t tell my husband, but I’m putting this on my to do list some time next year. I want to see if he even notices.

JenSig

I’m featured in Jewelry Making Daily!

JenMakingMetalJewelry (1)

How exciting that the day before Thanksgiving — a time for reflecting on all the things one has in life to be grateful for – that my book Making Metal Jewelry is being featured so prominently by Jewelry Making Daily Editor Tammy Jones. I am sooo super excited for her review of my book. Be sure to check out Tammy’s post 6 Tips and Solutions for Making Artistic Jewelry from Jen Cushman and Making Metal Jewelry. Also, my book is half off at the Interweave store now as a Black Friday special.

Because Tammy is tuned into all things jewelry and metalworking, she was astute enough to realize and hone in on the one technique I use in almost every piece of jewelry I make; drawing a bead on wire. In the book’s introduction I talk about how the Heavens opened up for me creatively when I first learned how to ball the ends of wire. I have found endless possibility for ideas with this very simple technique. (Rather than going into it here, be sure to read Tammy’s great blog post where she explains how to use a torch to ball the ends of wire).

I make something I call metal fibers – a cool term I learned from Susan — which is simply drawing a bead on both ends of a piece of wire. I use these pieces a lot in my wireworking for coiling, lashing, strength when attaching fibers to metal, and as pure design elements. Metal fibers are one of the easiest way for me to incorporate the look of mixed metals even into the most minimal of my metalwork pieces. (see the hoop earrings project in my book, as well as the forged bracelets). Every pair of earrings I make are pretty much finished off with a bead on the end. I do this not only for design, but also to keep any sharp, pokey metal from catching and snagging on clothing or hair. It’s actually a safety issue for me because I would be mortified if a piece of metal jewelry I made and sold was sharp or spiky or hurt someone.

ForkBraceletJenCushman

When I wrote Making Metal Jewelry over three years ago now (It’s been out for nearly 2 years, but like all books from a publisher it was 18 months in the making), I wanted to write the beginning metalworking book that I was looking for when I first grew interested in silversmithing. Because I come to jewelry as a mixed-media artist with a foundation in collage, I had no desire to do absolutely perfect silversmithing. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge admirer of people like Susan Lenart Kazmer, Richard Salley, Lexi Erickson, Helen Driggs, Robert Dancik,Thomas Mann and a hundred other people whose incredible talent and work knocks my socks off every single time I look at it. These artists (most of whom I luckily get to call my friends) inspire me to continue honing my skills in the sanctuary of my studio. However, a goldsmith I shall never become. I love my paint, ink, ephemera, fibers and found objects too much to jump ship. I think that’s why I’m so honored that Tammy Jones understands my work and where I was coming from with Making Metal Jewelry. Truly, I can’t think of anything better as an artist for one’s soul to be truly seen and accepted.

Blessings to you my friends. I hope you have an opportunity this week to reflect on the million and one things in your life you are grateful for. Tis’ the season.

JenSig

Hump Day Humor

blowtorchquote

I’m working in my studio like a mad dog this week getting ready for Dallas next week (Sept. 17-21, 2014) where I’ll be teaching five workshops at CREATE. Since I’ve been at my bench more than usual, I thought I would share one of my favorite graphics that I found a few years ago on Pinterest. I have no idea who the originator of this art is so if you are the creator, please drop me a comment and let me know so I can appropriately credit your work.

I remember the first time I took a workshop from Susan in 2005 where I got to experience a blowtorch for the first time. I drew beads on the end of bronze wire and watched slack-jawed how the beads seemed to defy gravity as they balled upwards on to themselves when I dipped them in the blue tip of the flame. That was a defining moment in my future metalworking career.

Like always, I’ll be traveling with my plumbers torch next week. No worries, I don’t bring it on the plane. I pack just the hose and nozzle in my teaching box and ship it ahead of time and always find a kind local student to buy me some MAPP gas from the hardware store. I always have it with me, like a teaching security blanket. I feel it’s my duty to introduce women to the wonders of fire and power tools. Can I get a high-five?

I’d love to hear from you. Do you use a torch? What is your favorite kind? Let’s wax poetic about the wonders of fire.

JenSig

Happy Independence Day!

fourth of july inspired necklace with ICE Resin and Craft Attitude

Here’s wishing you a Happy 4th of July. I hope you are getting a long weekend to have some good quality time for family, creating, art, friendship or even just enjoying the warm summer days.

We’ve got people coming to the cabin this weekend, so I’m all ready for a house full of family and friends. I so love days like this; BBQs, mojitos with fresh mint that I’ve grown, homemade potato salad and lots of yummy fresh-picked corn and sweet watermelon.

I’ve been looking forward to our town’s July 4th celebration for weeks. It’s a total small town party! We head down to the community park, spread out blankets, bring our picnic basket and then listen to the band play live music while the kids run around at our feet playing with each other and all the new friends they just met and formed instant bonds with.

Weekends like this I forget all about work. I don’t even think about art or crafting. Deadlines just have to wait. Is it like that for you too? Or are you like some of my fellow artist friends who juggle day jobs and art and use these long weekends to “catch up” on their creative work?

***

Just a quick little note on the necklace above. I recently participated in a blog hop with Craft Attitude and made some fab pendants using their film that I printed on my home ink jet printer in ICE Resin. In case you missed the post, here is the free tutorial. Because I tend to work on multiple bezels at once, I had quite a few finished focals. I finished this one into this patriotic necklace using a vintage World War 2 poster image along with some of our glass glitter, crystal beads and bronze wire. This is the necklace I’ll be wearing for tonight’s festivities.

 

I love my Wubbers

Jen Cushman wirewrapping and Wubbers jumbo mandrel

We had a lovely weekend at the family cabin in Northern Arizona. The weather wasn’t the best — rain, sleet and even some snow Saturday morning that managed to stick to the ground for about 45 minutes before melting. It put a damper on our normal outdoor activities, but I was secretly thrilled to have a total chill weekend. We spent all of Saturday hanging out in the living room, watching Netflix movies, staying in our fuzzy pajamas and even playing some board games.

Whenever my family settles in to watch a movie, it’s my opportunity to get out a spool of wire and my favorite mandrel pliers. There are about a dozen wire components that I’ve made so many times that I can create them in my sleep! I like to use these metal components as “beads” or other areas of interest to my necklaces. I love to mix up it up with a combination of beads, chain and wirewrapping. I used up the last of my box when I made the samples for my workshops at CREATE this year and it was more than time to replenish my stash.

I have a tray — the kind used to bring breakfast in bed — that I place my Wubbers pliers on. I have the jumbo round, the medium and the small round ones. I also have my wire cutters, and then the Classic round nose and chain nose pliers. Next I have spools of 14 gauge round copper, bronze and sterling silver. This weekend, I forgot my sterling silver so I used 16 gauge nickel wire. (It’s much harder to work with so I tend to not use this wire very often. Though I do love that it’s a white wire and very cost-effective to work with). I put all my tools and wire on my tray to the right of me and then sit cross-legged on the sofa, wrapping the entire time the movie is playing. I know it seems a tad crazy, but it’s really an effective way to spend time with my family and knock out some work too.

At events, my students will ask me if I really love my Wubbers, or if there are any other brands of pliers that I use. Truthfully, I’ve bought every kind of jewelry pliers imaginable over the years and have used them (you can see my well-used pliers in my book Making Metal Jewelry because I had yet to discover Wubbers when I was writing it). I used to think pliers were pliers. Then I met Patti Bullard, the Founder and President of Wubbers, over two years ago at a jewelry making retreat. She gave me a pair to try, and that’s how I became a fan. I keep my other brands for workshops for students to use, but for my work I’m pretty faithful. I honestly can’t live without my round mandrel pliers, particularly the medium size. They make perfect French ear wires every time. They also make great bails and clasps.

LinksClaspsJenCushman

You can definitely make loops using found “mandrels” from around the house. The barrel of a Sharpie marker and pens work great when you’re learning. You can also cut dowel rods to fit in your hand. I’m not advocating everyone run out and buy high end tools when you’re first learning the trade. However, I will tell you that your hands are your best and most important tools. When you begin to make jewelry as a part-time hobby and sell your work, remember the investment in good tools is worth it’s weight in gold for your health and safety, as well as the time you save while creating. I know this pile of wirewrapped components in the top picture  looks like days worth of time. Actually, I made them (and more not shown in the pic) during two movies. That’s what I mean by time savings with good tools.

After making the wire components, I work harden the clasps with my hammer and steel bench block. Then I add patina. I use Jax Brown for copper, bronze and brass and Jax Black for nickel. For sterling silver, I use Liver of Sulphur and I prefer to buy it in the extended life gel now rather than the hard chunks. After patination, I put them into the tumbler for additional work hardening and polishing for about 4 hours. Then, I can finally add them to my jewelry. It does take some time to create these, but they make me happy.

Here’s a few pics of the finished patinated and tumbled copper and brass components. They look fantastic and quite a bit different from the top picture when they were still in phase 1 of creation.

WireworkedcomponentsJenCushman

Here’s wishing you a truly Artful week!

 

The Mixed Media Artist, a new book!

MixedMediaArtist CoverThe sweet, kind, funny and über talented Seth Apter revealed today on his blog the artists featured in his brand new book. I am so jazzed to let you all know that I’m one of those artists in The Mixed Media Artist: Art Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Dreams from Over 40 Amazing Artists, available here at Amazon. As part of his book launch publicity, Seth is doing a thing on his blog called 30 Artists in 30 days, where each of us get to take a turn in his blog hop. I’ll be posting later in the month. I hoping to get a little video done for my day showing some of the techniques I used to create the pieces of art for his book. I’ll also be doing a giveaway of my book Making Metal Jewelry on the day of the hop as well, so be sure to keep an eye on my blog for the deets.

I have to tell you that when the loooonnnnggg questionnaire from Seth came in last year for this project, I was a little intimidated by all the amazing and well, kind of personal, questions he asked. After reading through it a couple of times, I decided I was just going to take a deep breath and go for it. I wanted to answer them as honestly and “off the cuff” as I could. I know Seth well enough to know that it’s important for him to get to the truth of matters and to really talk about art and its power to change the world in a myriad ways. It’s one of the reasons I respect him so much. I’m a little nervous — and excited — to see myself in his incredible book. More than anything, I can’t wait to read about the other artists’ processes and see how they chose to answer the Q&A.

For now, if you haven’t already, take a little jump over to Seth’s post to learn more about the artists involved and what his fabulous plans are.