Taking a little (bloggy) break

Jen Cushman Spring Bird Necklace

 

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

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

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

 

Off to Film at F+W in Colorado

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I’ve been a little quiet the past week on my social media and blog because I’ve been concentrating and working like a little elf in my studio for an upcoming project with F+W where I’ll be filming four online classes for Craft Daily. I leave Tuesday morning (Dec. 16th) and will be there for the remainder of the week.

I wish I could tell you or even show you what I’ve been working on, but, unfortunately I’m not allowed to reveal anything. I just couldn’t help myself though so I’m showing you an extreme sneak peek of one of the projects. Can you guess what it is? (bottom pic) I will be talking more about these projects in the future so please subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already.

What I can say is that I had a blast making these and working on the upcoming filming. I incorporated so many mixed media paint-y, inky, ICE Resin, rubber stamping, cold enamels, casting, molding, drilling, annealing, forging, wireworking, found objects, vintage photos, riveting, air dry clay, freeform wire shaping…..and the list still goes on….into these awesome projects. I really am hopeful people love them and get a lot of education and value from my work.

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If you’ve never heard of Craft Daily, it’s an online subscription-based site by F+W media chock full of how to videos and classes from some of the top names of artists and instructors in the business. Currently, there are over 350 videos to choose from. If you get a chance, check it out and see if it’s of interest to you. I’m hoping 2015 is going to be my year of videos and online classes. I’m seriously working toward this goal. This is a great step as a follow up to my Breaking Out of the Mold video (which I’m pretty sure is available currently on Craft Daily).

I’m excited to be going. Wish me luck!

JenSig

Tucson classes are up!

Hi everyone! Just a quick note to let you know that mine and Susan’s workshops for Tucson at the To Bead True Blue show are up. Registration is going on right now over on the ICE Resin website. I’ll be teaching metal and resin techniques, of course. Also wirewrapping and cold enameling with Iced Enamels. Workshop space is limited to 20 students and classes will not be repeated. Space is limited so if you’re joining us, please get your registrations in soon.

Take a peek at my workshop offerings:

 

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Over the Moon bracelet. Sign up here.

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Vivid Wire Links: Wrapped, Coiled and Colored. Register here.

 

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Take Flight Copper Cuff. Sign up now.

If you are interested in going to Tucson to see the largest bead, jewelry, gem and mineral shows in the US, here’s some information/links to get you started.

I sincerely hope I see you there!

JenSig