Happy Love Day

AtAGlanceJenCushmanheart XOXOXOXO

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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Tucson 2015 TBTB

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I’m getting things finished and packed in my studio for next week’s To Bead True Blue show. It’s a great show we do every year in Tucson where we teach classes and also have the ICE Resin booth filled to the brim with jewelry-making goodies. Bezels and ICE and Glitter and Ephemera…oh my! All the stuff we love to create and educate.

I’m teaching three classes this year. Mold making and casting, wireworking by making your own links and components and also some fun foldforming/metal/resin/cold connection work. All of my classes are technique oriented and project focused. You will walk out with a yummy piece of jewelry to wear and you’ll learn new jewelry making and mixed-media techniques for your art making toolbox. Here’s a blog post Carol, our content manager, wrote about the classes on the ICE Queen eZine (blog). Rather than repeating myself, take a look. All the deets are there.

I know Tucson is a show where lots of folks just get in their cars or catch a plane last minute. It doesn’t seem to have the year-in-advance-planning about it like the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee does. I always find is fascinating that different shows in various parts of the country all have their own unique vibes about them. Many of the same people, definitely classes and education but often a different approach all together. The cool thing about Tucson is that you can always just show up to the party at any time and join in. Classes almost always have a least a few openings and the multitude of shows in tents and hotels across the city are little worlds all unto their own.

If you’re coming to Tucson, please be sure to stop by our ICE Resin booth in the Grand Ballroom at the TBTB show at the Doubletree Hotel. This is a change from year’s past where we’ve always been in the wholesale room (small ballroom). Susan made some brand new bezels she cast in bronze and white bronze for the new year and they are gorgeous limited editions.

Here are some pics of the classes I’m teaching. Remember, your finished pieces can look different than mine. Different colors of Iced Enamels, different resin castings and even your own unique image in your resin bezel in the foldformed cuff. I hope to see you there!

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Once I get home from Tucson I will be home until the end of March. My plan is to do that serious purge to my studio that I keep talking about. Oy, I’m so embarrassed to openly show what my space looks like, but I promised some friends of mine that I will document the process and share. Art supply hoarding — it’s a common problem. I’ve been here before and I’ll talk about what I do to get a handle on things.

I also have a couple of essays coming up that I’ve written, as well as a tutorial on my art jeans that I made for CHA. I even have a Kid Craft Fail post that I wrote that you might want to see if you’re a crafty mom, aunt or grandparent.

Thanks for sticking with me! I’ll see you on the flip side of Tucson.

JenSig

Winter CHA 2015…finally

cha_logo_designersI betcha thought I was never going to get around to post some pics from the Winter 2015 Craft and Hobby Association Show. Well, it definitely took me a lot longer than anticipated but I have a good excuse. (smile) I was in California for 11 days total. My hubby and I left Arizona the Wednesday before the show to drive out the ICE Resin Susan Lenart Kazmer booth. Then there was a day of set up (Thursday) then education day (Friday) where I assisted Jennifer Priest in a business seminar on social media and, later that day, hanging out while Susan taught her awesome Artisan Workshop. Saturday the show began and it was its typical whirlwind — meeting folks, teaching 2 workshops, talking about ICE Resin, scheduling meetings, catching up with old friends in 15 minute spurts and the like for four solid days. Not to mention the evenings where you meet up with friends for dinner and, if you still have some stamina, head on over for some drinks and more shop talk. I’ve said this before, and I say it every year, but CHA for me is like living dog years. It feels like seven months of business is packed into one day. By the end of the show, you have follow up and new opportunities to keep you going until Spring (and beyond). CHA = Long days, hard work, major networking and new business.

Immediately following tear down of the show, I went into family mode. My hubby and children came back to Anaheim so we could spend some time visiting Disneyland, California Adventure and Universal Studios. If you haven’t been to these theme parks in January during the middle of the week, you’ll be amazed by how quiet they are. Wayyyy less people. Rides that normally are an hour wait time are, at the most, a 20 minute wait. Most are a 5 to 10 minute wait. The downside of going this time of year is that the parks hours are shorter and they also shut down some of the most popular attractions for maintenance. It’s a bummer that they’re closed and even more so that Disney still charges full price for the tickets, but the flip side is that you truly can see it all in one day. Now that I made it through the show and the family trip, I can tell you is that nine straight 12-hour long days on one’s feet gets rough.

I know most of you who follow CHA probably did so on our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But for those folks who aren’t involved in the day to day crafts industry, here are a few pics to give you a flavor or this big annual trade show. These photos were all taken by Jennifer Priest. I still have yet to pull mine from my phone. I most likely won’t get to it until after the Tucson To Bead True Blue Show the first week in February. (More to come on this next blog post!).

Susan and her jewelry

Susan working the booth and showing off her awesome mixed media jewelry using enameling, cold enameling, resin, metal, sgraffito, cold joins, wirework and all the other techniques she uses in her work.

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Me and Jennifer Priest right after our business seminar on Building a Social Media Campaign. We felt amazing to know that our topic was interesting enough to fill the room of more than 125 industry folks.

Me and Jennifer Priest right after our business seminar on Building a Social Media Campaign. We felt amazing to know that our topic was interesting enough to fill the room of more than 125 industry folks.

This pic is one of those that everyone grabs when you walk the show floor and run into people you know. Little pow wows start to gather and before you know it, you're having a little party with these amazing folks that you get to see every year at CHA. It's one of my favorite parts of the show. From Left to Right: Jennifer Priest, Susan Lenart Kazmer, Susan Walls, myself, Kathy Cano Murillo and Maya Murillo.

This pic is one of those that everyone grabs when you walk the show floor and run into people you know. Little pow wows start to gather and before you know it, you’re having a little party with these amazing folks that you get to see every year at CHA. It’s one of my favorite parts of the show. From Left to Right: Jennifer Priest, Susan Lenart Kazmer, Susan Walls, myself, Kathy Cano Murillo and Maya Murillo.

I'm sure you know these faces well. Our  fabulous friends and fellow mixed-media artists and instructors came into the classroom as Susan was setting up to teach. Oh, I adore these people! Seth Apter, Mary Beth Shaw, myself, Susan and Pam Carriker.  Seth, Pam and Mary Beth all has sold out workshops at the show.

I’m sure you know these faces well. Our fabulous friends and fellow mixed-media artists and instructors came into the classroom as Susan was setting up to teach. Oh, I adore these people! Seth Apter, Mary Beth Shaw, myself, Susan and Pam Carriker. Seth, Pam and Mary Beth all has sold out workshops at the show.

Susan spent some quality time in the booth catching up with students, customers and  friends. Don't you just love her new work and how gorgeous her necklaces are? Keep and eye out for these. Soon to be published in Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine!

Susan spent some quality time in the booth catching up with students, customers and friends. Don’t you just love her new work and how gorgeous her necklaces are? Keep and eye out for these. Soon to be published in Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine!

I truly love teaching ICE Resin classes to independent store owners. Such smart and creative women! Here we are learning how to collage bezels, mix and pour resin. Yes, you can see that I'm air pouring here. The class was too large for everyone to come up and gather around while I demoed.

I truly love teaching ICE Resin classes to independent store owners. Such smart and creative women! Here we are learning how to collage bezels, mix and pour resin. Yes, you can see that I’m air pouring here. The class was too large for everyone to come up and gather around while I demoed.

Another teaching photo. I always hope to find one where my mouth is not open and my hands are still. Hmmmmm...still waiting on that one. Well, at least its apparent that I take my job as an educator seriously. You will get lots of information in my classes.

Another teaching photo. I always hope to find one where my mouth is not open and my hands are still. Hmmmmm…still waiting on that one. Well, at least its apparent that I take my job as an educator seriously. You will get lots of information in my classes.

I hope this gives a little taste of what CHA is like each year for me. As you can see, there’s nothing from the show floor on all the new products. Alas, that is one of the things I rarely get to do each year. Time is spent in business meetings and teaching and being in the booth. I usually have to follow other people’s blogs — like Jennifer’s — and social media in order to get to see all the exciting new stuff. (Be sure to check out Jennifer’s CHA round up blog where she shows off the latest and greatest)

Here’s wishing you some Artful time in your studios. I’m getting ready to go into mine to make some new pieces for Tucson.

JenSig

 

I’m up on Creative Jump Start 2015

CJSOutOfTheBoxEditionRemember me telling you that I was contacted by my fab artist friend Nathalie Kalbach and asked if I’d be part of her super cool annual project called Creative Jump Start with other amazing artists/crafters? (If not, here’s a link to my blog post about it.) Well, the time has come for my video to join my friends’ videos.

To be fair to Nat and all the people who paid to sign up and be inspired all throughout the month of January, I’m not going to post the video for free here on my blog. However, it is time to finally reveal pics of my project. (If you’re at the CHA Show in Anaheim right now, be sure to stop by the ICE Resin Susan Lenart Kazmer booth 647 and see this baby live and on display).

I’ve had a pretty hideous piece of soft Samsonite luggage in my studio for a couple of years now that I bought at a yard sale for $1. I’ve always had the intention of making it an art piece, but just never seemed to get around to it. That is until Nat told me this year’s theme is Think Outside the Box. I know I’ve seen some painted luggage before, but I’ve not done it myself yet so I thought it was enough outside-the-box to qualify. Of course, you know I had to put ICE Resin on it after I painted that sucker with Liquitex Soft Body Acrylics. (Yum, they went on like butter!).

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Since I’m always the teaching artist as well as a working one, I had to leave one side completely unfinished. I want people to see what it looked like in its original state and Ta Da!!!! afterwards. The other thing about this particular piece of art is that I wanted to ensure that viewers of CJS got an accurate look into my authentic art process. I did not work out in my head the colors or sketch the design of this piece before I began. I went into it like I usually begin. With a visual in my brain and a passion for getting my hands to do what my mind’s eye sees and my heart feels. That’s it. If you watch the video, you’ll hear more of my narration on this.

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My supplies for this project are pretty simple. A suitcase. Three bottles of Liquitex soft body paints in Red, Blue and Yellow (so I could custom mix any colors), Black and White paint, a couple of paint brushes, couple of Liquitex paint pens, 2 Stencil Girl stencils (one of them Nat’s design) and ICE Resin.

If you’ve signed up for Creative Jump Start 2015 I hope you’re enjoying the videos so far. There’s still LOTS more amazing people and ideas to come. If you’re interested and want to learn more, here is Nathalie’s page. I believe you can still use my personal code cjsnewsiceresin to get a $5 discount off the price.  Note: This code is only good until Jan. 15th.

For those of you who’re already enjoying CJS15 and who might just have discovered me….welcome! I am so excited to have you visiting my blog for the first time. If you like what you see, please subscribe.

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Here’s wishing everyone an Artful rest of your week!

JenSig

 

It’s that time of year: CHA

cha_logo_designersI hope everyone had a seriously amazing Christmas or Hanukkah and a Happy New Year. It’s Monday, Jan. 5th and if your life is anything like mine, you’re easing back into work and/or just happy that your kids are back to school. Not that I don’t love the family time. We had some really great quality time together snowed in at our cabin in Northern Arizona where we spent days/evenings hanging out, watching movies, playing games and getting all bundled up to play in the snow. Why is it that you spend more time putting on the snow clothes and taking them off then the time you actually spend in the snow itself?

Today is a little insane at Studio Cushman, as I’m running a million miles an hour to check off all the things I still need to do before I leave for the Craft and Hobby Association Show in Anaheim Wednesday morning. My darling and supportive husband is driving the ICE Resin Susan Lenart Kazmer booth out with his big truck and trailer, while I ride in the passenger seat doing last-minute car crafting for the show. Thursday is booth set up all day and then education day on Friday where I get the pleasure of spending time with Jennifer Priest during our Business Seminar called Building a Social Media Campaign and later assisting Susan in her Artisan workshop called Alchemy with ICE Resin and Iced Enamels.

Susan Lenart Kazmer and myself in front of our ICE Resin booth CHA Winter 2014.

Susan Lenart Kazmer and myself in front of our ICE Resin booth CHA Winter 2014.

 

Saturday is Day One of the show. If you’re planning to attend, be sure to stop by our booth number 647. The two other workshops where I”ll be for CHA is Sunday at our joint workshop with Imagine Crafts and Stampendous called Oh Happy Day; Stamps, Ink and Resin. This is a sold out workshop, but I’ll be sure to take some pics of it as its going on and put them on my Instagram and Facebook pages. Finally, I’ll be teaching ICE Resin FUNdamentals on Monday. As of last head count, there are still a couple seats left. Other than that, I’m planning to be at the booth most of the rest of the time with the exception of a couple meetings.

charitywingsbepartICE Resin — Susan and myself — will be participating in Charity Wings Live from CHA online streaming event. Elena does an amazing job every year with this event. Participants have so many chances to win amazing swag bags from lots of manufacturers and handmade art from your favorite designers. Here’s a Live from CHA link to get all the info. It’s a FREE livestream. We’ll be giving away some great stuff during our segment at 3 p.m. on Saturday Jan. 10th. Join me!

Remember, if you want to see some of the happenings at the CHA 2015 MegaShow, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook. Also be sure to follow the ICE Resin Susan Lenart Kazmer Facebook page too for lots of updates and happenings.

 

Take care and be well!

JenSig