Queen’s Ink wrap up

Patti Euler in front of her incredible store The Queen's Ink in the historic Savage Mill in Savage, Maryland.

Patti Euler in front of her incredible store The Queen’s Ink in the historic Savage Mill in Savage, Maryland.

Here’s an interesting-to-me fact about my life: Sometimes I cannot believe I get to live the life where I travel the country teaching mixed-media art techniques to the most amazing, creative group of women (well, mostly women. Sometimes men, too!) I clearly remember when I set this intention. It was 2001 and I had started scrapbooking in 1999 when my son was born. I didn’t stay too long in that world, and quickly found “altered art.” A friend of mine owned an amazing paper arts store in Payson, Arizona called Paper and Metal Scrappers. I was such a regular at that store that they left a seat open for me. When I walked in, it was just like the television show Cheers where everyone knows your name and calls out “Norm!” One day Brenda said to me, “Jen, your work is good. Get me a sample. Let’s have you start teaching.” I was over-the-moon excited and scared. My passion as a regular customer and instructor of this store set me on a path that has become one of my work accomplishments that I’m most proud of in my life.

Ok…..fast forward to two weekends ago when I hopped on a plane to visit Patti Euler, mixed-media artist extraordinaire/instructor and owner of The Queen’s Ink in Savage, Maryland. Patti opened her incredible paper arts/rubber stamping/mixed media store 16 years ago and has never looked back. The second I walked in her store, memories of Paper and Metal washed over me and I fully expected the gals who work for her to call out “Norm!” I was home. I was back to teaching at an amazing store and I felt a tingling of excitement rush through my body.

Here we are sporting big smiles just before the weekend began

Here we are sporting big smiles just before the weekend began

Thus began a whirlwind of three days of teaching, learning, sharing, engaging, inspiring, being inspired by and pure joy of being with a tribe of creative women once again. I taught three days of resin, with Friday night’s journal class starting at Square 1 of working with resin to Saturday’s mixed-media jewelry class to Sunday’s bring-it-all-together resin casting/assemblage class. Here’s some fun numbers:

  • 3 days of instruction/creative play
  • 4 Ranger Signature Designer product lines were used: Susan Lenart Kazmer, Dina Wakley, Dyan Reevely and Tim Holtz
  • 26 unique mixed media techniques taught/used to create the three distinct projects
  • 56 students
  • Consumed 86 ounces of ICE Resin. The last student was scraping the bottom of the bottles to fill her assemblage because we used up every drop of resin I brought for the weekend

Here’s a little photo album of the weekend. It was such a whirlwind of creativity that I didn’t get a chance on Saturday to stop even once to take pics.

Ladies working on their art journal covers in Friday night's class

Ladies working on their art journal covers in Friday night’s class

Applying ICE Resin to the covers as the final step

Applying ICE Resin to the covers as the final step

 

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Iris Rodriguez working on her collage

 

Candi Harris working on her collage cover of her journal

Candi Harris working on her collage cover of her journal

 

Elizabeth Taylor's completed art journal cover including the freeform sculpture teachnique. You can read what Elizabeth had to say about the weekend on her blog.

Elizabeth Taylor’s completed art journal cover including the freeform wire sculpture technique. You can read what Elizabeth had to say about the weekend on her blog.

 

A little selfie fun with a Patti photobomb on Sunday as the ladies were working on their resin castings

A little selfie fun with a Patti photobomb on Sunday as the ladies were working on their resin castings

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Candi Harris’ amazing finished assemblage. She was so inspired when she left that she added even more to it in her home studio. Love the Dresden trim and the sticks and resin-coated flowers

 

Iris' completed assemblage. I love how completely different it looks from Candi's...almost as if they were not in the same class. This is what I love the most about teaching. Giving students a sample for an idea and then watching them take off with it to create work of art that is uniquely theirs

Iris’ completed assemblage. I love how completely different it looks from Candi’s…almost as if they were not in the same class. This is what I love the most about teaching. Giving students a sample for an idea and then watching them take off with it to create work of art that is uniquely theirs

 

Elizabeth's completed assemblage. How cute is the kitty cat chasing the butterfly?

Elizabeth’s completed assemblage. How cute is the kitty cat chasing the butterfly?

 

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Here’s a pic of me I rarely get…me teaching. A sweet student took some pics and graciously shared them with me.

I cannot say enough about Patti and her amazing store The Queen’s Ink. If you live in or near Maryland, Virginia or Washington DC, it is well worth the trip to visit her store. Not only that, but Patti has made it a point from the very beginning to bring in country’s best mixed-media instructors so her class offerings are the bomb diggity. Talks are already in the works for me to return Spring of next year. If you’re an East Coaster, please join her mailing list and keep an eye on my blog to see what we’re cooking up for you.

Artfully yours,

JenSig

Queen’s Ink this weekend

I am off to my last teaching gig of the year. Sooooooo excited about this one, as it’s a brand new venue for me. I’ll be at The Queen’s Ink in Savage, Maryland teaching assemblage, collage and jewelry — my favorite things in the entire world!

Patti Euler, the owner of Queen’s Ink and I have been chatting for years now every CHA (Craft and Hobby Association trade show) about me making a trip to her fabulous mixed-media art supply store. Well, we finally said to each other, “No more talking about it; let’s do this!” And so we shall. Just so you know a bit about Patti. Not only is she a smart businesswoman and store owner, she is an incredible mixed-media artist in her own right. She’s also an art educator too. Can’t wait for dinners. We have so much to talk about. (grin)

Classes are full, so this post is more an update to let you all know what I’m up to and where I will be this weekend. Here’s a look at the projects and techniques my folks will be learning and making Sept. 16, 17 and 18th.

Juxtaposition Assemblage: Found Objects and Resin Casting

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Fun, Funky and Functional Art Journal 

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Gypsy Heart Necklace 

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Be sure to check out The Queen’s Ink website and if you are ever in the area, please visit Patti’s store. Honestly, for an artsy person such as myself, it doesn’t get much better than this! JenSig

Back to Charity Wings Art Center

It’s August in Phoenix. You know what that means? Yep, this Zonie is heading to San Diego to get out of the heat and dip my toes (whole body!) into the cool Pacific ocean. And if I’m going to San Diego, you also know what that means. Yep, an art class at Charity Wings Art Center. In case you’re not on their newsletter list, here is the info. Elena and her volunteers put out today about my Deep Dive Journal Class:

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I recently decided to take a Work in Progress Journal – it had been a WIP for over a year — and get re-inspired. I found some amazing Octopus paper napkins on clearance at Pier 1 and viola! brand new imagery. That lead me to faux finishing up some resin castings and a brand new deep sea theme was born. Here’s a peek at what we’ll be making. Lots of yummy techniques here in order to achieve all that texture.

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To learn more, head on over to Charity Wings website and register. Hurry spaces are limited and my classes in San Marcos almost always sell out.

 

A glimpse into teaching

I’m off to the Bead and Button show for six days. It’s always wonderful to leave the Phoenix heat and land in Milwaukee where I have to make a conscious effort to remember to pack my umbrella and I can still wear closed-toe shoes. (grin)

Since I get questions almost every show from folks wanting to learn more about the nitty gritty of teaching, I thought maybe this is a good time for a little history and a glimpse into the process. Hang on, folks, this is a long post!

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First, history. I’ve been teaching a while now. This important piece of my career began when I was doing mixed-media paper arts. Even though nobody called it “mixed-media” then, I was fortunate that what I loved to do was popular with the “chunky book, mini book” trend in scrapbooking. I took blank canvases — mostly chipboard or acrylic albums — and then loaded them up with family photos, paint, inks, stamps and just about anything I could glue on to a substrate. By 2001, I was teaching chunky book techniques at paper arts stores in Arizona and California. This was a hobby, since I was still working as a part-time magazine editor.

Teaching took a back seat to learning when I decided I wanted to make jewelry. I continued to write, but spent my free time taking metalsmithing classes at my community collage and obsessively adsorbing what I could from books and also through osmosis when Susan let me assist in her workshops. By 2009, I felt the calling again and returned to teaching, only this time at national retreats. Oh my goodness, I had so much to learn in the beginning! Fortunately, I’m a believer in lifelong learning so that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I truly believe that to be a good instructor, one must continue to tweak, adjust and attempt to innovate.

Ok, with all that said, here’s a little peek into the process in case you’re interested in teaching at national shows. Believe me, there’s definitely a process and know that it can be time consuming!

Every event organizer has a mailing list of potential instructors. If you want to teach for their event, you ask the person in charge to add you to their call for proposals list. The organizers work hard behind the scenes doing what it takes to host an event. This includes every event-planing skill imaginable, from finding a good hotel or place to hold the event on the dates and times they want to negotiating contracts (not easy!) to figuring out food, lodging, transportation, budgets, contingency plans, refund policies and more. Fortunately, as an instructor none of this is your job. Your job is to answer the call professionally and before deadline. A little note here. Some retreats are by personal invite. How do you know which ones? If you ask to be added to a call for proposal list and the organizers say they don’t have one, then it’s invite-only.

Once the call for proposals comes in, I start making brand new work and art samples. A lot of the time, I’ve already built work that I know I’d like to teach. I use these pieces as inspiration or a starting point to still create work exploring a new idea or technique or a new twist.

After building the art, comes photographing the work, sizing and scaling it in Photoshop to the organizer’s specifications (each one is slightly different). I always save my images in high resolution and then also in low resolution 72 dpi so that I have them print-quality ready and also web ready. This little tip took me a while to learn. Now it’s just part of my process, and that makes it much easier throughout the year to quickly respond to emails I get from people requesting images for various opportunities. Here is another tip: Photos are key! The most well-written description will not make up for a low light, out of focus photo. When it comes to photographing your work: practice, practice, practice (or hire a professional).

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The next step is to write concise and (hopefully) exciting descriptions. As I’m doing this, I’m thinking about every single detail of my workshop. This is important because in addition to the descriptions, the instructor has to decide what’s included in the kit and what students must bring to class. With airlines making it expensive for luggage, the tools and materials list has become an even more important detail. Students often tell me they don’t like to bring too many supplies. If you, as the instructor, supply them then its an added expense to your personal budget. Shipping costs are expensive. Many of my fellow instructors drive to every event they teach in order to make their workshops as seamless as possible for their people. This is a time vs cost factor. Shipping is expensive and you’re in hot water if your stuff gets waylaid, but driving across country is not always a viable option.

Writing descriptions is definitely a learn-by-doing process. It can take some a long time to get this down, while for others it’s a breeze. I put a lot of time and editing into it, always trying to find the balance of being inspiring, yet detailed enough that my students know what they’re getting when they sign up.

Next it’s time to send your proposals off to the organizer/decision maker. Then comes the fun part, waiting to see how your proposals are received. Nothing is guaranteed for the national retreats. You turn in your best work and hope that your ideas are interesting enough and that your classes fit the organizer’s vision for the retreat.

Here’s another important teaching tip: You may get rejected. It stings. It puts you in a bad mood for a day or two, but it happens. Dust yourself off and try again. You have no idea why your work wasn’t accepted. Maybe someone else turned in something similar. Maybe that year too many people decided to follow a trend and that left the organizer top heavy with those techniques. Very rarely is is because someone doesn’t like you. I’ve been turned down for teaching gigs and have never known why. Other times, I’ve been told its because I used butterflies or that the retreat had too much jewelry or that they want to follow the trend of soldering and I did wireworking. No worries. You know the saying, “There’s always next time.” When it comes to national art retreats there’s always next year.

Wait, it doesn’t end once you’re accepted. You need to do you part to tell people about your classes and the retreat. These days this means social media. Hopefully you have some really good friends and they will help share the word for you. Also it helps if these people have taken your classes and have had positive experiences and they tell others. Nothing builds your reputation like authentic word-of-mouth advertising. It’s invaluable, and also why I’m grateful when people share my info.

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The last little tidbit is this: There are great artists and great teachers. The two do not always go hand in hand, so if you’ve had a less-than-stellar experience as a student remember it could be just as simple as this. Fortunately for most of the well-known people teaching the retreats today I can tell you they are in sync. I have truly met an amazing tribe of artists who’re called to share their knowledge.

I realize that sometimes I can seem daunting to break into the industry. But remember this as well; There is always room for new talent and expertise to enter any field. Your voice, your skills, your passion is needed in this world. So is your commitment and hard work. Teaching is wonderful, exhilarating, sometimes exhausting, sometimes drudgery (prep work and clean up), sometimes hard but always humbling.

Thanks to all of you who read to the end. This is a long post, and if you’re interested enough to read this much on a blog when photo stories and 140 character Tweets are the norm, then I believe you might just have all the patience inside of you to be a great instructor.

JenSig

Charity Wings adventures

I’m off to one of my most favorite places in the world this week — San Diego and Charity Wings Art Center. As many of you know, I’ve been a supporter of Charity Wings mission and vision for about five years now. Elena, the founder of the Charity Wings non-profit, and I hit it off one year at a Craft and Hobby Association convention and we’ve become good friends ever since. Even without the dear friendship, I’d still be a huge supporter of this organization because as far as I know, it is the only non-profit that truly works hand-in-hand with the crafts industry.

Each year, I donate my time to Charity Wings to teach various mixed media techniques. Most times, it’s jewelry, but mostly I try to listen to what new skills and techniques the Ahmazing volunteers and supporters of the Charity Wings Art Center want to learn. Of course, resin is always right up there on the list. The BEST part about this year’s visit is that it is in conjunction with the organization’s Art Decade*nce Celebration and big come-one-come-all free festival that culminates the activities on May 14th.

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My classes are Thursday this week. There’s still time to sign up. The metal etching class is almost sold out, so if you are interested, I’d suggest you jump on board toot-sweet (Ok, it’s actually spelled tout suite in French and is an idiom for right away, but I think this spelling is much cuter.🙂

Here are some photos of what I’m teaching. In the caption is the individual registration link. Remember, taking my class at Charity Wings is like learning for good or learning with a cause. How cool is that?

 

 

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ICE Resin Basics and Beyond class — Registration link: http://charitywings.org/ice-resin-basics-beyond/

 

 

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Metal Mania etched copper pendant necklace: http://charitywings.org/metal-mania-class/

 

I sincerely hope I see you there so we can have a truly Artful experience together.

JenSig

Art Jewelry Adventure sale

Creative150ArtJewelryAdventureHey guys! Just wanted to let you know the Art Jewelry Adventure online retreat that’s taking place this entire year is on sale now for 20% off. If you use my direct instructor link – http://bit.ly/1M1Rs0f – and register now, you pay just $80 (normally $99).

Not sure what to get your crafty jewelry-making mom (or even for yourself) for Mother’s Day this might just be a great prezzie.

Once you register, you’ll be able to watch all the online lessons that have been taking place so far. And good news, you haven’t missed my class yet. I’m up in October teaching how to make a pretty transparent resin bezel and a handmade chain necklace from 18 gauge bronze wire.

Remember, please click my direct link to register.

Also here’s another peek of my project in case you’ve forgotten or haven’t had a chance to see it yet. The deadline to take advantage of this sale is May 7th so hurry now if it’s been on your mind.

Jen Cushman Transparent Necklace Class Image

 

 

 

Mold making and casting process

My Peep Pie Journal workshop at Art is You Santa Rosa is almost full. Only two spaces left. By this time next week, I’ll be hanging out in gorgeous wine country with my artsy tribe. I can’t wait! Since so many folks are interested in the mold making and casting process with ICE Resin, and since this technique is the focal point of my workshop next week, I’ve been sharing process pics on my Instagram and Facebook business page this week. To give credit where credit’s due, Susan was the first to cast a lock. I saw hers and fell in love.

I’m teaching myself how to do video and editing since it’s my plan to start offering some online classes. Let’s just say I still have A LOT to learn about making and producing videos. However, in an effort to jump in and try out my skills, I put together a little marketing video for my journal class. I wanted to share something with those of you who might not be able to attend the Art is You retreat this time around. (Put it on your bucket list for sure though. It’s a pretty amazing art tribe, and you know there is serious truth in that saying You Vibe is Your Tribe!)

I hope you enjoy this little sneak peek:

JenSig