Skeleton Leaf tutorial

Have you seen some of amazing collar necklaces of Susan’s? I have, and they are drop dead gorgeous. Susan developed a technique for making a mold of a delicate skeleton leaf in order to cast it in ICE Resin to use as components when building her large jewelry pieces. The moment I saw the work and this incredible technique, my jaw dropped to the ground and I grabbed her arm.

“Susan! People are going to go crazy for this! I’m going crazy for this!”

She smiled a little grin and nodded her head.

If you want to learn this amazing technique, head on over to the Ranger Ink blog where I do a stepped out tutorial on using the Susan Lenart Kazmer products to make these incredible leaves. You know what’s the secret sauce to these? Our brand new resin tints.

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If you want to see more of Susan’s inspiration work, be sure to follow her on Instagram. Be sure to follow me there too if you aren’t already. And, heck, while you’re at it, make sure you follow Ranger Ink too. Triple the fun!

Here’s wishing you a very Artful day!

JenSig

Art is You Last Call

AIYinstagramArt is You, the fabulous life-affirming mixed-media art retreat in Santa Rosa, California is a little under a month away and I’m gearing up for my workshops. I’m not finished with my studio purge and re-organization yet, but a girl’s still gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and, for me, that’s work! I have a temporary fold up table in one corner right now that is just for Art is You. I’m making my ICE Resin castings and getting all my supplies gathered into one big heap so I can make kits next week.

My journal class has only a couple spots left, but there’s still room in my other two workshops — Bronze Bambino and My Wild and Free Gypsy Heart. If you live in the Northern California area or love wine and visiting wine country + making art or have family in the area that you’ve been wanting to see, don’t delay any longer. Registration closes on April 3rd and Salianne and Ellen sent a notice letting their folks know the block of rooms set aside at the discounted is almost full. If that’s not enough incentive, I received a notice in my email this morning that Southwest Airlines is having a tip -off sale with one-way airfare starting at $69. I just checked how much it is from Phoenix to San Francisco and it came up as $158 round trip.  I managed to take advantage of their Spring Sale a few weeks ago and also got a smokin’ good airfare. Plus, it’s Southwest so 2 free bags (important consideration when you are bringing art supplies!)

Just wanted to take a moment to reach out. I’m heading to wine country, meeting up with my art-making tribe and gearing up for an awesome trip. Honestly, I would LOVE for you to join me on this adventure.

 

JenSig

 

Studio purge and re-organization

I know I’ve talked about this a lot in the past. Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while are probably thinking, what??? This again??? Isn’t she always reorganizing that studio?

Ok, so here’s my dirty little secret. Yes, I seem to always be re-organizing my studio because I talk a lot about it but I never, ever get the job fully accomplished. I get on a tangent where I just can’t take it any longer and uncover a top layer of stuff. I try (and I mean really, really try) to set aside hours and days to go through my studio with the absolutely sincerest intent to purge, clean and organize. I get myself into the mental game, roll my sleeves up and start working. The ugly truth is that the problem is a few layers deep so I run out of steam and never finish. My schedule gets busy and I keep going, working and making until every surface is full and I’m down to a 6 inch by 6 inch square.

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And here’s the even crazier part of this. When I develop my classes, I like to teach a linear, techniques-based process with a finished project. That means that I have an idea, I create art samples, I reverse engineer what I made to ensure that I can teach it as it makes sense during the flow of a class and not how I make it in my studio. I take photos. write a description, gather supplies for my kits, keep all the art supplies and materials for the workshop in a big box until I’m ready to kit and ship before an event. What I’m trying to say is when it comes to my teaching (and even my publishing), I am sooooooo dang organized!

I’ve been thinking long and hard lately, wondering how both sides of me can co-exist. It feels almost Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at times. I’ve also been thinking about how my studio turned into such a mess when we’ve only moved back to Phoenix 4 1/2 years ago. There are many answers to this. The simplest being that we moved back right during the crazy wonderful growth of ICE Resin. We moved back and I set up my studio in two days and we grew. I remember clearly one year where I was on a plane 17 times for either a teaching or PR gig or a sales meeting. I truly didn’t have the time to correctly organize my studio to begin with, and I definitely did not have the time to put things away.

You know what’s awesome now? Life has re-organized again with the changes and I find myself having time to stop, think, catch up on sleep, take some deep breaths, rekindle friendships, snuggle my daughter and stay in touch with my husband and teenage son. I didn’t get as much down time as I had hoped for last year, as life presented other opportunities of looking after for my parents their final year. Nonetheless, I feel beyond blessed.

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This table was at the end of first day of the professional organizer. It took a while to get down to this! To be fair we worked on a giant cabinet and cleared it before we tackled the work table.

Their deaths have also been a wake up call to me in many ways. It’s been said death of a loved one makes you face your own immortality, and that’s probably so. What it has made me face is simply what I call my “stuff” — my physical belongings, as well as my own beliefs that stem from everything from the way I was raised to cultural influences to how I view my life through my own private lens.  Various business and life coaches I’ve admired for a while all mention that physical clutter equals mental clutter. I looked around my studio, aimed a looking glass to my head and simply said, “Jen, Enough!”

Right before the Tucson show I spent two full days purging. I donated and tossed with reckless abandon. Oh, it felt goooood. Then I had to pack my teaching supplies, stop mid-stream and go to Tucson. I lost a little wind in my sail for a couple of weeks afterwards. When I tried to find the fire within to start again, all I felt was overwhelm. I decided that I needed professional help — not the therapist kind, but the professional organizer kind. I did some research, discovered Melissa of New Day Organizing in Phoenix and made an appointment.  She’s been here one time and helped me start with a big cabinet where I knew 90% could be tossed, recycled or donated. We worked for 4 solid hours, side by side, hair in ponytails, wearing tennis shoes and work out clothes and hustled.

We made a list of things to accomplish before my next appointment. I got 80% of it finished (and some help from my amazing friend Trish). She comes again today and I’m ready for another round.

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I shared my little adventure as it was first happening on my Facebook business page. I was surprised (ok maybe not-surprised because this is an issue for us mixed-media folks!)  how many comments I received on the whole clean, purge, organize one’s craft space. Lots of great questions. Lots of cheering me on. A few peeps horrified by the thought of an organizer touching their art supplies.

I plan to share my process in this little journey of mine. Yep, I’ll show you the good, the bad, the downright ugly. I’ll also show you the end result, which I guarantee will not be a picture perfect magazine-worthy space. I absolutely want to be inspired when I walk into my studio, but this is my life. It’s where I go to discover myself and how I feel about things. It’s the space I need to give voice to my art. It’s where I ask questions so I can teach others what I discover and know to be true. My studio will always have a little bit of chaos because unruly and wild is more interesting.

I hope you stay with me on this new little side journey. I have some fun things planned. Keep your fingers crossed for me that between myself, Trish and Melissa that I’ll do the hustle and cross the finish line.

Also, if you have any questions of the process, be sure to comment here on my blog or over on my Facebook business page. I’m enjoying these brief little chats.

JenSig

 

Dream state and grief

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I  was dreaming about my mother, the last REM sleep before morning. I often have vivid, saturated, full-color dreams right before I wake up. In my dream my mother and I were sitting across from each other, holding hands and talking. I have no recollection of the words we were saying, just the feeling of pure love. It seemed to last for hours and seconds simultaneously. I have no idea how long my dream was in real time, but I could literally feel myself waking up from dream state to daily life and I felt this urgency to hang onto her. She gave me a strong, full body hug and then poof! She dissipated, like feathery smoke. I opened my eyes and grief hit full force, first thing in the morning.

My friends ask me how I’m doing. 99% of the time I’m just fine, doing my thing and generally feeling grateful for my abundant blessings. However, that 1% comes on like a tsunami and it stops me, out of nowhere, and I crumple for two minutes or five minutes as loss washes through and over me.

After I recover, I write about it. It’s the only way I truly know how to release the sensitivities I was born with. Physically writing the words helps me process. It allows me to stop, feel, think, make sense of and then let go.

Many people stuff their emotions or simply ignore their discontent. Others go for a run or walk to clear their heads. Many of us make art, which I do as well, but the process is always a longer, slower one than when I write.

What I’m learning is that grief is wide and deep. Of all the human emotions, it’s the most demanding. I have no idea which “stage of grief” I’m actually in. I honestly do not care because I  need to face them all. What I do know for sure this morning is that I would give anything to go back to bed, recreate that REM state and “see” her again. Unfortunately, as the minutes tick by she’s further and further away from me, exactly like Jan 14th when Hospice called to tell me she died. Yes, I know she’s always in my heart. But you have to understand, just a few hours ago I was touching her.

But I am awake. It’s Saturday and I have a full schedule with my daughter. A birthday party, “family” dinner with my best friend and all our kids. I take a deep breath because my life calls.

JenSig

 

Day 7 — a week of heART

Welcome to day seven – the final day of my Week of heART…

Sylvia Plath is one of my favorite poets. The way she constructs her sentences makes me see the words in my minds eye the same way I see my art. I wanted to finish my week strong. When you read the words “Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars” I hope you see what I see.

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I am Vertical

But I would rather be horizontal.
I am not a tree with my root in the soil
Sucking up minerals and motherly love
So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed
Attracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,
Unknowing I must soon unpetal.
Compared with me, a tree is immortal
And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
And I want the one’s longevity and the other’s daring.

Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,
The trees and the flowers have been strewing their cool odors.
I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.
Sometimes I think that when I am sleeping
I must most perfectly resemble them–
Thoughts gone dim.
It is more natural to me, lying down.
Then the sky and I are in open conversation,
And I shall be useful when I lie down finally:
Then the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have time for me.

– Sylvia Plath, Poet/Author

Day 6 – a week of heART

Welcome to day six of my Week of heART…

Maya Angelou. What more is there to say? A national treasure. A woman of eloquence and grace. Words that touch my soul. I wish we could all believe in ourselves this fully and know that we are phenomenal women.

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Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou Poet/Author

Day 5 – a week of heART

Welcome to day five of my Week of heART…

I’ve read everything by Shel Silverstein. The funny thing is that I did not read him in my childhood. I read Where the Sidewalk Ends my first year in collage and became obsessed with his work. He is not a children’s author. He is an artist for humanity.

HeartsDay4JenCushman

Hug ‘O War

I will not play at tug o’ war. 
I’d rather play at hug o’ war, 
Where everyone hugs 
Instead of tugs, 
Where everyone giggles 
And rolls on the rug, 
Where everyone kisses, 
And everyone grins, 
And everyone cuddles, 
And everyone wins.

  • – Shel Silverstein, Poet/Author