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

My new DVDs are here!

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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.

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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

 

Taking a little (bloggy) break

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Hey everyone. Happy Spring! Well, it could still be mighty cold depending on what part of the country you live in. Here in the sunny Southwest, Spring has sprung, and guess what? I’m cleaning my studio. I still have to work my regular gigs so the cleaning and sorting is going slowwwwwww. I manage to do about two hours a day on it. The rest of the work day is taken up with my normal deadlines and projects. Weekends are still reserved for family time and household chores.

I was chatting with one of my best girlfriends over the weekend while our littles played. I groaned that I was the epitome of spring fever right now. I want to enjoy the gorgeous 75 degree weather and do anything besides the dailies. I’m also having a heck of a time finding my normal creative juice that usually flows through me. Do you ever have times like this?

As we continued chatting (and me doing a little more bitching and moaning than I should have), I realized that I need to give myself a little break. My soul is wanting to take a few daytime naps here and there and just flat line on some of my normal to dos. I made a list of everything in my life that gives me energy. Then I made a list of things that are not currently feeding my soul. The final column was a list of things I enjoy, but want to just take off my plate for a little bit. At the moment, blogging falls into that last category.

I’ve had various conversations regarding blogs over the years. Some people advise to never let your foot off the gas pedal of your blog because its “the driving force of your business.” (Picture me doing air quotes with my fingers and rolling my eyes) Others say it’s OK to do it, but for goodness sake, never tell anyone what you’re up to. Other social media folks have said they will let up slightly on the pedal by filling in the gaps with curated content (either their own past posts or other’s stuff on the internet) rather than coming up with new ideas. I could opine about all these scenarios, but instead I’m going to do what I would advise you to do if you were my friend having the same conundrum.

I would tell you to listen to the whispers of your soul because only you can hear the small, still voice within. The key is being quiet and stopping long enough to hear it.

I have no idea how long this little bloggy break is going to last. It might be as short as an afternoon, making this post irrelevant. It could take a week or more, or as long as my studio purge. What I promise myself, and everyone who subscribes to my blog and cares enough about me to follow me, is that I will never write a post just to publish. There’s a thousand big and small things in life that’s that way more fun and fulfilling than spending time reading half-assed blog posts.

Now get into your studio (or not) and have an Artful day. Whatever you decide to do, please be sure to live with it all your heart.

JenSig

Walnut Hollow + National Craft Month

March is National Craft Month and to celebrate Walnut Hollow has asked a few of their friends/designers to create some quick and easy craft projects. Since I adore Walnut Hollow’s high quality wood surfaces and exceptional products, I thought it would be fun to participate. (Note: be sure to read to the end of the post for entering my giveaway).

But first, a quick little story as to another reason why I’m also a Walnut Hollow fan. When I first joined CHA as a designer (rather than a member of the press) in 2007, I participated in my first an only Designer Showcase. I spent the better part of a month working non-stop to make interesting mixed-media projects to showcase my talents. I worked out the display, got my postcards and business cards created and printed, did some cool signage and went to the show to announce myself to the crafts industry as a professional artist/designer. I had butterflies in my belly and was nervous as to how my work would be perceived during the meet the designers viewing. The very first manufacturer to show up at my table and talk about my designs was Chris Wallace from Walnut Hollow. Her supportive words were music to my ears and the match that lit a fire inside me and confirmed that I was right in my desire to step my work into a larger stage. Isn’t it incredible that one person saying just the right thing at just the right time can effect such positive change? Over the years, I’ve come to learn that Walnut Hollow is one of the most designer-friendly companies in the industry and Chris is a key player. Life has changed tremendously for me in the past eight years, but my loyalty to Chris never will.

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Here’s a sneak peek of my beach-themed project that’s up on Walnut Hollow’s blog today. Be sure to head on over to my post there to see the full tutorial!

And now for a giveaway. Tell me, have you ever used Walnut Hollow products? What’s your favorite. If not, is there something on their website you would like to try? Since it’s National Craft Month, I’ll pick a winner using random number generator for a giveaway an ICE Resin plunger and a few Susan Lenart Kazmer Art Mechanique bezels. (U.S. only please because of the shipping costs).

Here’s wishing you an Artful day!

JenSig

Happy Love Day

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Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days. Not because of the Hallmark commercial aspect of it, but just because I love the idea of a Day of Love. You know how I feel about this subject. It’s my most favorite word and my most favorite emotion. Nothing in the world beats Love. All you need is Love. Love Makes the World go Around. Etcetera, etcetera. I’ve actually been accused of using the word love too much. Whatever.

I was recently working on new art samples for my Vivid Wire Links class, which is an offshoot of my successful Links, Clasps. Components and Chain workshop that I teach. Vivid Links is a condensed version of the wire links (fewer links) but with the addition of cold enameling (Iced Enamels + ICE Resin). I shared Work in Progress steps of the necklace on Instagram, but wanted to wait until Valentine’s Day for the reveal of the piece. Everything about this necklace to me screams Happy LOVE Day. AtAGlanceJenCushman Here are the pics I put on Instagram showing Step 1 in the process. The bezel ( pic below) has two layers of imagery and resin built up and the links are made from 16g copper wire.

AtAGlanceStep1 Next Step (pic below) with a third layer of imagery and cold enameling on the bezel and wire links. Obviously red is the dominant theme here. AtAGlanceStage2 If you’re interested in learning to make something like this, be sure to check out my website and click into Workshops to see where I’m teaching this year. I’ll be in Los Angeles, Houston, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Paris. Possibly back to Texas – Austin — in October. I know many of you have asked about online classes. It’s just not something I’ve been able to pull off considering my teaching/family schedule and ICE Resin responsibilities. However, it’s something I want to do and make time for. Maybe as the time draws nearer, I”ll do a survey to see which ones you’re most interested in so I know where to begin the process.

Here’s wishing you the most Artful Day of Love. I hope you can share it with a special partner, family member or BFF. JenSig

Always have a pocket

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Like millions of mothers my mornings are spent waking up my children, getting them fed, dressed and ready for school. My teenage son does this on his own, but my daughter still needs a lot of help. She has very definite ideas of her world; what she wants, likes and dislikes.  Add that to being in kindergarten where the reasoning skills are not yet fully developed and you’ll understand when I say I sometimes have challenging mornings. Lately she has been on this kick where she only wants to wear uniform skirts (no shorts, no pants) with pockets. The only problem with this is that she has one skirt with pockets and eight other typical pleated uniform skirts sans pockets. After about a week of her wanting to wear the same skirt every day, it finally occurred to me to ask her why she needed pockets.

She looked at me thoughtfully and answered a very well-reasoned response. “If Mrs. H. gives me something special during the day I want to have a place to hold my treasure.”

I looked at her just as sincerely and smiled. So many thoughts were running through my head from her sweet little answer.

  • How much she adores and admires her teacher. That’s a good thing!
  • How likely is it Mrs. H will be handing out special gifts to individual students when she’s doing her best each day to manage 24, five-year-olds?
  • How innocent my daughter is to patiently hope and wait for special gifts.
  • How the world would be a better place if all adults would hope for — and here’s the key — believe in and expect treasures at any given turn.

I don’t think it’s an accident that our children are innocent and open. I believe we all come into the world this way because the Universe truly is a magical place and we instinctively know it. Life is hard and bad things happen, which makes us more cynical as we age. We shutter our hearts, close off our vulnerability, stay on guard. The consequence is that we wrap ourselves in so much protection that we fail to see the little miracles that can happen at any given moment of any given day. We stop believing that a stranger – or worse, someone we love -will bestow upon us a special unexpected gift.

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Having an open heart is something that’s been somewhat challenging for me as I continue to put myself and my work into the world. As an artist, showing your work is the same as showing your heart. Your work is the essence of your thoughts and emotions made manifest in a tangible way; be it a piece of jewelry, an art journal, a canvas, a quilt, an art doll, a handmade book, a scrapbook, etc.  I’ve learned over the years that I like some pieces of my work much more than others. (Everyone feels this way!) When I first began my teaching career, I used to hide the pieces I didn’t like in a box, shut tightly and tucked away in a corner of my studio. Then one day as I was packing for an event and getting my jewelry together to sell at the Artist Fair night, I realized I didn’t have enough work to display. I didn’t have time to make anything new because I was down to the wire and the weeks prior had been particularly hectic with our company.

I looked over at the box in the corner and sighed. I hadn’t been in there in months and months. I sat on the floor and started pulling things out. To my surprise, it was like looking at brand new work. The wonky wrap on one necklace that I despised so much after I twisted it actually looked pretty cool. The odd color combination I experimented on one piece later became Pantone’s Color of the Year and was found in the fashion magazines. Other pieces had great components but I could see the design was slightly “off”. I knew it at the time but wasn’t in the head space to fix it. Time gave me what I needed to see with new eyes. I grabbed a handful of  pieces, pulled them apart and spent an hour or so re-configuring them into something fresh.

Learning this lesson was an important part of my growth as an artist and educator. Knowing who I am is one thing. Believing in myself another. Truly understanding that my life and my work is fluid and ever evolving and that every piece is “good enough” — fabulous even — was life changing. Today, I try to wear my pocket in my heart. I do my best to keep it open so that when life presents me with treasure, I have a special place to tuck it.

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Here’s wishing you an Artful week and a full pocket.

JenSig

Make Art in L.A. with me

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I’m so excited to announce I’ll be teaching at a brand new venue for me. It’s called Make Art in L.A and it’s run by an amazing artist Barbara Buckles. Barbara has spent most of the past 20 years as a photographer and entrepreneur. She’s done a line of greeting cards, written books on photography, invented a photography process that resembles vintage Daguerreotypes, taught workshops and had a successful online shop. Like a true mixed-media artist and creative soul, she’s dabbled in jewelry, encaustics, painting, collage, drawing, etc. Through it all, she’s made some pretty cool friends and decided to help them share their talents.

I had the sincere pleasure of learning about Barbara through Jeannine Stein, my editor for the columns I write with Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Artists and Makers magazines. Our mutual friend led to conversations and then to an invite to teach at her amazing space in Los Angeles.  If you’re one of my SoCal friends or a Phoenician wanting to do a road trip, or someone who wants to jump on a plane and spend some time with me — mark the dates in your calendar now. April 10th and 11th.

The best part is that I’ll be doing two days of resin workshops. These are my favorite; where we really get to have some fun with the medium learning new techniques and then building on them. I’ll be teaching resin basics for just a little bit and then putting it into turbo mode as we take it from zero to 60 pretty quickly. I’m hoping students will sign up for both days in order to dig in, but I have made the classes where it’s OK if you just have time in your schedule for only one. I promise, you’ll be walking out with some pretty cool art projects and tons of ideas to spark your creativity.

Head on over to Make Art in L.A.’s website to read more about my upcoming workshops. You can register now. As this is an intimate and super cool venue, seating is limited.

Here’s a peek:

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