In between space

 no longer quite

 

There are changes coming in my life. While I’m beyond excited for them to begin — for new beginnings, it’s also been months and months in the making. There have been days… weeks… that I fret about all the “what ifs” and “how tos”.  I’ve had many nights when I wake up at 2 a.m. and cannot get back to sleep because my mind is racing.

As all the machinations continue to move at this slower pace than I’m accustomed to, I’ve turned my working hours into pages of new ideas that I cannot wait to get started on. I’ve read books on marketing and the new economy. I’ve listened to dozens of podcasts with some of the world’s best business leaders and innovators. I’ve made a little bit of art, but honestly my heart is driving me in the direction of information consumption rather than reflection and introspection. I feel my muses happily taking a nap rather than indulging my creativity. They’re a million years old — infinitely wise — so they’ve already got this thing figured out.

I’ve visualized where I’m headed and already felt the changes deep in my heart.

The problem is this damn in between. The waiting. It goes against everything I am. Action-oriented, results-driven, always moving in the direction of my dreams. Type A, for shizzle.

So I take my work days a littler easier than I’m used to. And I remind myself to honor this space. While it’s difficult, it’s here to teach me an important life lesson about patience.

Have you ever found yourself between the no longer and not yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

JenSig

Packing for workshops

I’ve been home for a long and lovely 6 weeks. I really needed the time to recharge my batteries and work on some items on my to do list that just never seem to get done because they’re always at the bottom. I head out to SoCal on Thursday for a lunch and meeting at the Stampington offices and then my 2 days of Resin workshops at Make Art in LA. If you happen to be reading this and you’re local and find yourself with a free days this coming Friday or Saturday, check it out. I have only two spots left in Create and Resinate. My kits are made for the max amount of students the space holds so I promise there’s room and materials for last-minute sign ups.

If you’re not convinced about both days, here’s a little testimonial from artist Kelly Smith: “Casting is addicting! Ever since taking your class a few years ago I’ll go into huge spurts of making molds and casting. You are the best teacher!”

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I thought I’d show you a little sneak peek of what it takes for teaching. I include so many mixed-media techniques in my classes that it requires a lot of supplies. I have a large heavy-duty black tote that gets filled to brim and usually weighs between 50 and 70 pounds. (It’s a bear to ship, but as much as I’ve tried to whittle down my supplies. I can’t really do so without asking my students to bring a huge laundry list with them). You can see by my short LA workshop supply list that I do my best to make it easy for people to show up, learn, play and discover.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that if I pack for each class in plastic shoe boxes it helps keep me organized. An important consideration at many of the national hotel-based retreats where you’re teach both day and night for two to three days in a row, plus vending.

Jen's teaching box

In addition to my box, I have a black tool bag for my Wubbers pliers, steel bench block, hammer, files, drill, wire snips, torch, rivets, wire, etc. This usually weighs around 20 lbs. Sometimes I bring a small store with me, which includes Susan Lenart Kazmer Art Mechanique bezels, ICE Resin, Iced Enamels, ribbon, etc. Other times, it’s too much and I show up as just me, an artist. (When this happens, I tend to get a least a half dozen sad faces from people who were also hoping to shop and then I feel bad for not wanting to lug around all the stuff.)

Jen's toolbag

My workshop art samples, books and work for sale goes into another plastic tub along with a few display items that fold and pack flat. In this box also goes a piece of fabric for a table covering and a couple of old burlap coffee bags with great vintage writing on them for display.

Of course I have my luggage. I bring water, some snacks like fruit and nuts and Kind bars. I also pack my lavender eye pillow, a small scented candle and some essential oils because sometimes hotel rooms have musty or odd smells. Of course, all of the above is easy to pull off when I’m driving. The events I fly to are much more challenging and I have to ship my workshop box and tools ahead of time. Believe it or not, I’ve also shipped water as crazy as it sounds. I learned this the hard way when I was stuck in a hotel room in the outskirts of Chicago with no car and no van shuttle to get me to a nearby store. I was like a camel and after 5 workshops and had the most splitting headache from dehydration.

I know this is pretty mundane stuff here, but they’re a number of you who read my blog who also teach or are interested in teaching. Plus, I know quite a few of you are art retreaters yourself and it’s good to peek behind the scenes. One of the ways you can tell the difference between a newer teacher and someone whose been at it for a while is their level of preparedness. This isn’t to say that things don’t go wrong, because there’s always something that does, but the experienced instructors should have an ace up their sleeves, like a good magic trick that can save the day. I promise you, they’re a couple of things in that black tote of mine that I can use to change my workshop in an instant if need be.

I’ll catch you on the flipside next week when I return. It’ll be a little quiet here for a bit because I have my Cloth, Paper, Scissors column due within days of being home and a webinar idea I’m suppose to be getting to my editor as well (happy to have a 6 hour drive to think it through because right now all I have a headline and 3 bullet points.)

Artfully yours,

JenSig

 

Enjoy Easter

Today marks Easter weekend and the renewal of Spring each year. Like many folks, I adore this time when the weather is beautiful and the outdoor weekend fairs and festivals are in full swing. I’ve been spending lots of quality time with my family and friends. Each Wednesday, we look through the events calendar and decide when and where we’re meeting up on Saturday. This weekend, of course, I’ll be taking my daughter to an egg hunt. We’ve already purchased her frilly pink and blue tulle dress and new sandals that she picked out. The thought of a party has had her bubbling with excitement since Tuesday.

Spring Quote - Jen Cushman Studio

Since I know this is a busy weekend for most folks, I just wanted to give you a little inspirational image of a Spring vignette pic I took at Sweet Salvage and then turned into a visual quote. I’m having fun creating these little digital graphics. If you have a Pinterest board this would look good on, please feel free to Pin away.

The soft color palette makes me want to get out some of my pastel beads and build a new necklace. The eggs inspire me to get out my resin clay and paints and see if I can make some speckled beads first. Maybe late Sunday afternoon after Easter brunch I’ll get some down time to simply play in my studio while my daughter colors beside me.

Tell me, what does this image evoke for you? 

JenSig

What’s your love language?

Heart Journal page Jen Cushman

I’m sure you’ve heard of the book the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I first learned about this book from a friend of mine about 4 years ago. We were hanging out one evening and talking as only girlfriends do and I was filling her in on a stupid little tiff my hubby and I had. After listening to my frustrations, she said, “Jen, your love language is Words of Affirmation and his is Acts of Service.” It’s a clear as day.

Huh? Wasn’t clear to me, but I was intrigued. I picked up Dr. Chapman’s book. I did the test and asked my sweetie too as well. My main Love Language was, indeed, Words of Affirmation though I was surprised to learn his was Quality Time and then Acts of Service. (If this is all Greek to you right now, don’t worry, there’s a link to the test below). I’ve always been verbal, began talking in sentences at 10 months and never stopped. Communication has been a natural predilection of mine and reading, writing and talking is right up there at the top of my most favorite ways to spend time.

Family and friends how much I love and appreciate them because I’m forever telling them so. Complete strangers who give good service — like waitresses/waiters or just about any professional interaction that improves my life at the moment gets a positive affirmation from me. If they’re truly excellent, I seek out their managers to put in a good word. It’s just something I’ve always done. On Facebook, I’m one of the first to give a compliment or ‘atta girl. I do it because a kind word can generate smiles and their happiness always rubs off on me. Seriously, it’s a win-win.

My husband, on the other hand, is much more of a taking-action kind of guy.  He shows his love by running my car through the car wash and filling up my gas tank, or checking my wallet to ensure I always have cash on hand. I’ve come to expect to always have a $20 bill in my wallet at all times. Pretty cool, right? You betcha! But compliments not so much. I used to get frustrated. Now when I really need a word or two, I give him a nudge and say, “What’s my love language?” He grins and makes an attempt.

Words of Affirmation are not my teenage son’s language. Mom’s touchy-feeley words are sometimes too much for him, so I do my best to still be me, but tone it down. He refuses to take the online test because he thinks it’s “dumb” but I already know his button is Quality Time because I read Dr. Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages of Teenagers when he was in junior high. This means when I’m looking to show him how much I care or to reward him for good grades, for example, I find something fun we can do together.

You’re probably wondering why I’m even writing such a personal blog post today, particularly when it has nothing to do with art. I don’t really know myself. I’ve started and stopped at least a half dozen times. What keeps drawing me back is the fact that this book is something this has helped me honor and understand the people I care about. I also think it has implications in all relationships. If managers would ask their people to do this touchy-feeley test, workplaces could run smoother if we knew that Sally in accounting like gifts so leaving her a little piece of chocolate makes her happy, but Dan in marketing would be touched if you took a task off his plate because his son’s baseball team is playing a big game and you know he volunteers to coach.

One of my deciding factors in leaving the corporate world as a business reporter and work as an entrepreneur was the constant complaining at the newspaper. Had I mentioned taking a test to see what our love languages are, I’d have been fired for sheer stupidity. Fortunately, I made the right decision to follow my heart and my days are much more joyful.

If you do decide to jump on over and take the test let me know. What’s your love language? How do you feel about what Dr. Chapman is saying?

JenSig

 

Heart Assemblage and new DVD

DDVDClayHeartWithWingsDVDcovero you love hearts? Check out what I have to say about them and also my new Clay Heart Assemblage DVD in my guest post on the Cloth, Paper, Scissors blog today. I wanted to throw in an extra bonus for hanging out with me, so I did a quick freebie tutorial over there for adding color and depth to chipboard. You can see a detail shot of it in the photo below. Yup, this is chipboard on either side of the Art Mechanique bezel designed by Susan Lenart Kazmer and filled with ICE Resin and Fire Opals.

The chipboard is made by an artist-based company that a friend of mine turned me on to called UmWow Studio. The designs are fresh and funky and the quality is awesome, as you can see on their website and blog. Dee Dee Catron, the owner is a total sweetie. If you’re planning to buy some chipboard for your mixed-media pieces, consider purchasing from them. I do! {Little tip: Iced Enamels work great on chipboard too.}

 

 

Resin Clay Heart Assemblage Detail Shot 1 Jen Cushman

 

 

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The large heart focal in this piece is resin clay. Have you ever worked with it? It’s yummy because you don’t condition it in a pasta machine like polymer and it air cures rock solid. Particularly dense pieces can take as long as 3 days to cure, but for the most part, it’s dry to the touch in 24 hours. Resin clay is often used in jewelry, but it’s a great mixed-media art material.

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Well, this concludes Jen Cushman week. (if you didn’t read Monday’s post, be sure to see my little surprise) I know it’s been a lot of updates this week for me, so thanks for hanging in there and not getting too tired of my mug everywhere.

I do want to take one last minute though to say again what a blast I had doing this. From the filming in Fort Collins, Colorado all the way to working with Cherie, the online CPS editor at the end of the process. It takes a village to support artists, and F+W/Interweave has been pretty fantastic to work with over the years. I’m truly grateful for how hard the entire team works to make myself and all its authors/artists look good. If you’ve ever wanted to write a book or film a workshop or write articles on your art in a magazine, take a good look at F+W as your future publisher.

Here’s wishing you an Artful weekend!

JenSig

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

 

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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

My new DVDs are here!

JenCushmanWeek

I have some exciting news to share. My DVDs (or digital downloads) are being released and I’m not too proud to tell you I burst into a huge grin when my hubby brought the box into my studio and I opened it up to see the cover art for the first time. Then imagine my surprise when I opened my email Saturday afternoon and saw that Cloth, Paper, Scissors dedicated March 23-29 as The Jen Cushman Week. Seriously??? I just about fell out of my chair. I had no idea that one was coming!

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Not sure if you recall, but I flew to Fort Collins, Colorado to film these one week before Christmas. Yes, you read that right…the week before Christmas. (A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do). Even though everyone over at the Interweave studio was as ready to get on their  holiday cheer as much as myself, we managed to get some good work accomplished. If you’d like to refresh your memory or see the on set pics if you haven’t yet, here’s the link to that December blog post.

DVDCastResinMessageBoardCoverWe filmed four DVDs in 2 days and had a blast doing it. My time to push hard was when I was making all the art work, doing the step outs and just organizing my part of the filming so when I got into the film studio things went as smoothly as possibly. When it was all said and done, I came home to enjoy Christmas. Then it was a push to get to CHA and then Tucson and now it’s already Spring. I knew in the back of my mind that the DVDs were set to come out soon, but I was surprised to get that email from Cherie Haas, fabulous online editor of Cloth, Paper, Scissors telling me that it’s time. The feeling was a bit like having a baby, but forgetting you were knocked up.

So, without further ado, here are some photos of my Mixed-Media Chalkboard with Cast Resin. (if you’re curious about the straightforward titles, blame it on SEO. It’s great for the Internet but it’s killing artist’s and writer’s ability to be clever). This is home decor piece reminds me of the Paris flea markets whenever Susan Lenart Kazmer and I do our art retreat in the South of France because that’s where I bought the hardware I molded and cast.

French Message Board Jen Cushman

This piece is a painted chalkboard. As a technique, I also teach you how to make your own chalk paint (the blue) and your own antiquing wax, thereby saving you money and adding to your creative knowledge of things. This fabulous wooden base is from Walnut Hollow and I love the French Provencal shape of it. Actually, the entire project was inspired by this substrate.  I used old wooden rulers that my sweet hubby swiped from the supply closet of his work for me. He had to go digging around for them. They were in a box on the floor literally gathering dust.

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The details are stamped and embossed Paris-inspired images from Stampendous and, of course, my favorite cast ICE Resin embellishments. I had a ton ‘o fun making this chalkboard and I hope you enjoy the DVD too.

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If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to head on over to the post Cherie wrote on my new DVD and see what she has to say about it. Also, be sure to check in with my blog this entire week. I’ll be talking about all the new releases.  Cherie will be doing the same at CPS. If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, I’d encourage you to do so. Lots of great info that’s all about mixed media! Also remember that there is a coupon code to save 15% on the videos. It’s CPSVIP15. 

One last thing, since March is National Craft Month, I’ve been working with Walnut Hollow this month with some inspirational projects for their blog. Coincidentally, I have a project up today. (When it rains, it pours) Don’t miss that blog post either. This is another home decor one using wooden spools, steel wire and a stencil. The free tutorial with step outs is on their blog.

Here’s wishing you an Artful day!

JenSig