Take Me Away Collage tutorial


The symbolism of the spiral shape mingled with water carries the power to flow and change. This important concept of transitioning from one stage of life to another with grace and dignity has been a recurring theme in my work these past few months.

During a particularly rough patch as my father was in hospice care, I made this simple — almost childlike — mixed-media collage to represent my subconscious desire to jump aboard a small boat all alone and sail away to some place beautiful and blue and quiet where I didn’t have to make decisions.

As I was gluing the papers to the canvas, my mind was thinking about the sea air and warm sun on my face. At this moment, making art to soothe my soul provided a brief respite and a small space to breathe. The physical act of building this collage made it possible to express my desires, fears, concerns in an emotionally healthy way.

Even when doing paper-based art, my love of wire and metal shines through. The spiral waves and free form wire sun are exactly what’s needed to take my work from a two-dimensional canvas to a three-dimensional mixed-media piece. Beeswax used as a sealer provides not only attachment of wire to paper, but also gives my collage a hazy, dreamy feel that matched my thoughts as I was working.


Here are the steps I used to make this piece. Hopefully the techniques/idea will give you a jumping off point to create a lovely end of summer collage for your art room.

“Take Me Away” collage

Tools and Materials:

  • 12 x 12 canvas
  • Natural beeswax
  • Clean tuna can
  • 2 inch chip brush (disposable) or old paintbrush
  • Electric griddle or some method to melt wax
  • 16 gauge wire. I used bronze but you can use silver, colored or copper wire
  • Round nose pliers
  • Flat nose or chain nose pliers
  • Wire snips
  • Old paintbrush
  • Scraps of patterned paper
  • Caran d’Ache Neocolor Artists’ crayons in black
  • Twine
  • Old poetry book
  • Patterned washi tape
  • Paper doilies



Step 1. Use scissors to cut a piece of patterned background paper to represent the sky in this summer on the water collage and glue to canvas using matte medium.


Step 2. Cut out a piece of patterned wave paper or make your own wave shape from scrapbook paper and adhere to canvas. Add additional ephemera as desired. (Here I used a paper doily to represent a frothy wave).



Step 3. Cut the shape of a boat using scissors, as well as a triangle for the sail. Cut rectangle strips for the mast and a circle for the sun. Adhere with matte medium. Continue placing ephemera to your liking. I added a poem, as well a vintage tag and a few strips of patterned washi tape. Let dry.


Step 4. Melt beeswax and use and old paintbrush to apply wax to surface. Work quickly as wax dries quickly. Be sure to place more wax in the areas where you want to embed your spirals. You will be using the wax as the “glue” or adhesion.



Step 5: Use a heat craft iron to smooth out the wax in various areas that needs it.  Tip: If you don’t have a craft iron, you can also use a craft heat gun to blow hot air onto the wax and re-melt it to smooth it out. Be careful, as it melts quickly.


Step 6. Melt more beeswax into area of the collage where you may wish to place additional dimensional items. Here is was to embed some jute into the collage to reference sailor’s knots and lashing. If you have areas of your college where the wax seeped into the paper and caused discoloration, you can continue to add more bits of paper. I used patterned tissue paper as in these areas.

Here’s a few more detail shots of the college canvas –




Here;s wishing you an Artful weekend!


Jewelry Making Daily

JenMakingMetalJewelry (1)

I think a lot of you who make and design jewelry already know about Jewelry Making Daily. If you haven’t heard about it, let me introduce you!

Jewelry Making Daily is an email that goes out to more than 300K subscribers. Tammy Jones is the editor of it and she is not only a wonderful writer but just an incredible human being. I’ve had the sincere pleasure of meeting her as we are out and about teaching and vending at our various jewelry-focused shows, like the Tucson To Bead True Blue Show and also Bead Fest Philadelphia. What makes Tammy such a great editor is that she is writing about her passion and what she knows. She’s also one of those kinds of people who’re lifelong learners, so she’s constantly educating herself and her readers on the latest and greatest in all things jewelry.

It’s always a treat when I open up my daily email from them and see my name or my work mentioned. Today’s email is about Stash Busters and being inspired to use what you already own in your studio. My book, Making Metal Jewelry: How to Stamp, Form, Forge and Fold Metal Jewelry Designs, is listed as one of her favorite books. I’m thrilled to be on Tammy’s radar today along with Susan’s Resin Alchemy book, which was on the Amazon Top 10 list of craft books for 2015 and Barbara Lewis’ Torch Fired Enameled Jewelry. For a good article on enameling, check out what Tammy wrote when she took Susan’s liquid enamels class at Bead Fest.

Take a peek at Tammy’s article today and consider subscribing to Jewelry Making Daily through Interweave if you haven’t already. I’ll be honest and tell you  I don’t have the time to read every single article, but I can say that I’ve picked up some great tips and tricks and new product info over the years from it.

Here’s wishing you a very Artful start to your week.


Dealing with grief

I feels like it’s time to reach out on my blog to let those of you who may not follow my social media a little closer into my life. I feel ready, well, truthfully not really. But after having lunch with a friend yesterday, I realized nothing is gained through silence.

Grief is such a difficult process. I’m learning it takes many forms, and each person handles death of a loved one in his or her own way. Some people “white knuckle” through it. Others reach out for support and counseling. Artists friends I’ve talked to over the past couple of months have shared their personal stories with me, and each of these treasured…private…intimate conversations has filled my heart with even more respect and tenderness for them and for the things they, too, are dealing with as they attempt to balance their careers.

My father passed away June 28th. I was in Paris at the time on our private art retreat. Of course, Susan, as well as the lovely ladies on our adventure knew of my situation and were incredibly kind and supportive. My father, a 20+ year diabetic, went into congestive heart failure in March, right before Adorn Me in Houston, Texas. As much as I hated doing it. I called the organizer and, together, we found replacement instructors for my classes. I was grateful to my friends Rikki Schumaker and Kim St. Jean for adding to their already full schedules to teach my classes. This new reality of my father’s declining health caused a chain of events that was like a snowball starting slowly and picking up more and more snow as the days ticked by.

I tried to teach my dad about selfies to pass the time in the hospital one afternoon in May. It took about 13 tries to get a decent shot. He said to me "honeychild, what are you doing?" I said "I'm taking a selfie pop." He responds: "What the heck is a selfie? All these people putting their phones out in front of them. What had the world come to?"

I tried to teach my dad about selfies to pass the time in the hospital one afternoon in May. It took about 13 tries to get a decent shot. He said to me “honeychild, what are you doing?” I said “I’m taking a selfie pop.” He responds: “What the heck is a selfie? All these people putting their phones out in front of them. What had the world come to?”

I immediately started paperwork to apply for ALTCS (Arizona Long Terms Care System), a state program designed to pay for care. ALTCS eligibility is determined by a financial and medical assessment. The system is convoluted and complicated, and I was told on a number of occasions to hire an elder care attorney to handle the paperwork/process. The idea was crazy to me to hire an attorney my parents can’t afford to help them get into a system designed for people financially unable to pursue private-pay options. I did exactly what I do when presented with a problem. I put on my big girl panties and tackled it, and thus started what amounted to an additional part time job on top of my normal schedule.

The end of May, my father called me one night and said he was ready to transition. He asked me to call Hospice and get him and my mother help. I made a phone call to a friend in the medical field and he gave me the info to SAGE Hospice. Thus began a new round of paperwork and more caseworkers. SAGE moved quickly and my father qualified immediately. He thought he would go quickly. It took a full, seemingly-long-but-blessedly-short five weeks for his body to shut down. We had time to say goodbye. Nothing was left unsaid. My father received and gave love all the way to last breath.

I spent hours with him and my mother the last two days before I left for France. All affairs were in order. When I gave him that last kiss and hug goodbye knowing I was getting on a plane the next day, I knew it was the last time I would see him. He wouldn’t let me cancel the trip. Houston was bad enough for him. Paris was unacceptable. He died four days before my parent’s 65th wedding anniversary and two weeks before his 87th birthday.


My mother has never lived alone. She is grief-stricken and complains of heart pain, among many other things. I’m still going through the ALTCS eligibility process for her and it continues to demand my time. We will know the outcome within the next few weeks and I pray my mother gets what she needs.

All of this, of course, was going on while Susan and I were also working behind the scenes on our exciting new ventures with Ranger Industries. Talk about the best of times, the worst of times. While I’m so incredibly excited for the future and grateful for the multitude of tasks (also behind the scenes) that we must accomplish before CHA, I find that there are days when I just don’t feel like myself. There are moments when I wonder if my creativity has blown away in the wind because it’s so difficult to wrap my arms around that which is most familiar to me.

On those kind of days, thankfully, someone in my inner circle reaches out to me. Like yesterday, when my wise friend took me to lunch and shared her own grieving process of her father’s death. And last night when a friend/fellow instructor acted as a sounding board to my work ideas and guided me as I refocused.

I’m doing my best to stay grounded in my life. I can’t wait for 2016 to get here because there’s lots of new opportunities to touch even more people with art.  Since my teaching is over for the rest of the year, I have time this fall and winter for some much-needed exploitative time in my studio. I will share visuals on Instagram as I can. For now, today’s share is enough.

Artfully yours,



Bead Fest Philly classes

Ok all you East coast folks and jewelry making aficionados, I’m talking to you! This is the first time I will be attending/teaching at Bead Fest Philadelphia for the summer show. Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Philly, even though one of my bestest girlfriends is from there and her mom is always offering for me to come stay with them and visit.

I’ll be teaching four, 45-minute beginner workshops, which is also a first for me.  The image below is a screen shot from some PR Interweave recently sent out. It’s always nice to see my work being featured. Take a peek over at the Bead Fest 2015 site. They’re lots of incredible instructors and classes already sold out, but there’s also some fun to be had for those who’re much more spontaneous and are ready to say, “what the heck? Let’s go!”




August is a busy teaching month

This summerJenCushmanAUAutumnHarvest1 turned a little busier than I had originally planned. A couple of new teaching opportunities popped up in the last couple months and I haven’t even had the time to put them on my website. I’ll be in Phoenix, San Diego and Philadelphia in August teaching metalsmithing, resin and wireworking classes. Here’s a quick run down if you’re interested. Most of the classes are filling up quickly, but there’s usually a spot or two open for even last-minute sign ups.

Art Unraveled — August 4-8

This is a wonderful national mixed-media art retreat that just a happens to take place in my hometown of Phoenix in August. Yep, you heard correctly. Phoenix, Arizona and August. Why? Because the lovely large suites at the Embassy Suites are on summer rates. Linda Young has been organizing Art Unraveled for more than a decade and brings to town some of the top mixed-media instructors across the United States. People always assume that because I’m local, I must teach at other Phoenix venues. The truth is that I rarely teach locally. Art Unraveled is the one time of year I get to see my fellow Arizona art enthusiasts. I also vend during the Extravaganza so that’s the time I get to really talk to folks and catch up.

I’m teaching a class on making wire forms with resin paper. While it’s a project-based necklace, I’m doing my usual of teaching lots of wireworking and jewelry-making techniques throughout the day. In the end, students will finish as beautiful necklace and leave with a strong foundation for basic metalwork — cutting, filing, torch work, annealing, drawing a bead, dapping and doming, wire wrapping, freeform wire and working with resin. Take a peek here at the Autumn Harvest description. I’d love to see you.

I’ll also be doing my Bangle Angle class at AU. This is a fun, fast and fulfilling class where I focus on forging and annealing –major metal fundamentals. Students will make multiple organic bangles. Anyone afraid of using a torch will quickly get over any fears. This class has one seat left as of this post. It’s always one of my most popular.


Also, for the first time, the amazing artist Leighanna Leight and I will be teaming up to teach a molding and resin jewelry class. Called A Face in the Crowd, we’ll be exploring figurative work along with Cold Enameling and jewelry making.  I haven’t been able to do a lot of team teaching in the past, but I adore collaboration and am excited to be working with someone as talented as Leighanna. It’s a two-evening class where we will get to have lots and lots of hands on fun.


Next, I’m heading over to San Diego to do a wire class at the Charity Wings Art Center. If you want to spend an afternoon on August 16th learning new jewelry making skills, or wirewrapping techniques that, I promise, will take your work to the next level sign up now and join me at the art center. You’ll just need to grab your jewelry making pliers (round nose, chain nose and a sharpie marker) and the rest of the supplies and tools are waiting for you there. Bring your what-makes-you-happy drink (for me it’s a caramel iced coffee, but for some of my students it’s a nice bottle of cold Chardonnay) and a smile.


Lastly, in August, I will be at BeadFest Philadelphia teaching five introductory jewelry-making classes using ICE Resin. I’ll be posting more about this in a few weeks with pics, so for now, here’s the link to take a look at and register. These classes are limited to 20 students and three of the five are almost at capacity.

I know I’ve been pretty quiet since returning home from France. It’s the end of summer break and I’m diving in deep to motherhood and enjoying family time. I’m only working a few hours each morning (getting up really early and finishing up before my kids even wake up). We’re spending our days kayaking or going on picnics, swimming at our favorite swimming hole and hanging out in the cool waters of Fossil Springs. Evenings include watching movies on the sofa, snuggled up in the cool air and cocooning ourselves inside. My kids start school next week and then it’s back to normal life. I’m cherishing this time and am pretty happy with my decision to get off my electronic devices so I can enjoy this “staycation”.

I’ll see you next week at Art Unraveled and be ready to party after my little break.





A new direction

Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman

Susan and me in Madrid, Spain on our unintended day trip after our flight home from France was cancelled. Here we are doing one of the things we like to do — turning lemons into champagne by creating new experiences.

Have you seen the news on the ICE Resin blog?

We’ve entered an exclusive manufacturing and distribution agreement with Ranger Industries for Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin products. Susan and I are staying on to continue working this beautiful ship we’ve built and help steer it in exciting new directions. I cannot tell you how happy we are to have found the perfect partnership to make ICE Resin grow and bloom into everything Susan wanted it to be when she founded it eight years ago. This change is going allow us to focus on our core competencies. I do want to take a moment to acknowledge what an incredible business woman Susan is. Most people see this amazing artist, but they have no idea how much smarts, grace, strategic thinking and hard work she put into her position as President and Founder.  It’s been an honor to work with her.

ranger ink logo

Susan is now Creative Director of ICE Resin. She gets to do what she does best and loves the most: think, dream, build, invent and inspire all amazing things jewelry and mixed-media related. Watch out world, and unfettered Susan Lenart Kazmer is a beautiful thing to watch indeed. Stay tuned! I’ve seen a little bit of what’s to come and I’m blown away. As Education Director, I’ll focus on what I love — being an art educator and creating DIY programs to showcase all the the amazing techniques Susan’s developed over the years so others can continue to learn how to use resin and SLK products in their own art making. We will continue to teach workshops, create videos, do online education, write books and articles and pursue new opportunities. We’ll continue to do new product development for ICE Resin hand-in-hand with Ranger. This is the big time, folks.

One of the biggest challenges of being an artist-based company is that we’ve had to take on all the company responsibilities as we were growing. Finances, sales, manufacturing, trade show logistics, vendor relations, customer service and a host of other tasks that are absolutely essential to running a successful business. We’ve stuck together and done it, even though we’ve had some rough patches where we’ve looked at each other and said “What are we doing? We’re artists”!!!

We woke up every day and put one foot in front of another and grew the company. We “made the donuts” (remember that old Dunkin Donuts commercial?) because we have responsibilities that we’ve always taken very seriously to our customers, employees and creative team of artists. Last year, it became clear to us that in order to up level ICE Resin to the next big rung of success, we needed to find the right partners who shared our vision and also our deep commitment to our creative tribe and industry. This process was a long one that developed after many months and meetings. It was a literal meeting of the minds with every conceivable detail being worked out.

So begins a new chapter, more like a new book; a sequel. The characters are in place, the journey continues, the plot thickens. Keep reading. Hopefully we can make this next book a page-turner. I can promise you that we will never be out of ideas. With Ranger’s support, now is the time to fly.

Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman Boat in Paris


Viva La France

I’m so excited! The time has come for our workshop in France. I’m heading out Thursday and come this weekend, I’ll be wandering through all the amazing Paris flea markets with Susan and our students looking for centuries-old treasures to not only inspire me, but also to re-purpose into mixed-media art! After five days in Paris, we’re heading by high-speed train to the South of France for our retreat.

Since there’s still a million and one things I need to do before I leave, I thought I’d give you all a quick photo collage of some of the past pictures from our Relics, Ruins and Resin Alchemy workshop.

Ruins Relics and Resin with Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman

This workshop is a big undertaking with lots of logistics and a small, intimate group of people. Our students are not only looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience but are dedicated to digging deeper into their work and getting a full immersion experience in the best techniques Susan Lenart Kazmer‘s developed throughout her 25-plus art career. I’m really looking forward to teaching the ICE Resin and casting part of this workshop. Susan, of course, is going to be teaching her amazing soldering and caging, forging, brazing and wireworking techniques. I’ll be listening and soaking it all up, not to mention I plan to come home with some amazing new jewelry of my own.

Interested in learning more about our trip, jump over to the ICE Resin website workshops page. Want to see more on this magical retreat known as La Cascade, be sure to click the link.

france workshop logo

Once I return in two weeks, I’m planning to do a series of blog posts on the trip. I plan to share some video, lots of pics and more information about La Cascade and what it, and France in general, means for me personally and for my soul’s growth.

Bon Voyage everyone. Stay well, happy and creative.