Beads and Buttons

Today I’m headed to Milwaukee for the annual Bead and Button Show sponsored by Bead and Button Magazine (Kalmbach Publishing). I’ll be teaching three classes, attending the always-fabulous Meet the Teachers reception and, of course, shopping for some fantastic jewelry-making supplies.

I also get to hang out with my beautiful business partner/bff Susan Lenart Kazmer, which is always a rip-roaring great time. Susan is such a rockstar instructor. She’s got four workshops and all of them are almost full. We teach opposite schedules so that means I will get to hang out in a couple of her classes like the old days where I can help out and be there to soak up all the wonderful, creative energy.

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I’ll be teaching my always-popular ICE Resin Layers and Depth workshop twice. The first class sold out so I was asked to repeat it. Love when that happens! I’m also teaching a metalworking class called Chevron Drops. I created this workshop so people could really hone in on metalworking basics of forging, annealing and manipulating wire while walking out with a well-designed necklace. I love doing these types of classes. I called them process-project. The teaching is linear with repetitive steps. You can learn a lot quickly. The teaching style allows information to cement itself in the brain. If you are reading this, are going to Bead and Button and want to take this class, there are spots available. You can still sign up on site at the show.

Chevron Drops Jen Cushman

If you’ve never been to Bead and Button and want to see some inside action, be sure to follow my social media. I plan to Instagram a lot during my five days. Will be Tweeting and Facebooking too.

I won’t be posting much to the blog this week, but I’ve got a summer beeswax collage tutorial coming up for you next.

XOXO

JenSig

 

 

Buckle Up, Baby…I’m coming to Austin

Jen Cushman Buckle Up Baby workshop

I’m coming to Austin, Texas y’all! I can’t wait. I’ve spent some time in Dallas and Houston but I’ve never been to Austin, and I have heard some really awesome things about it. Right now, I’m trying to talk one of my best girlfriends into a road trip so we can spend a couple of days enjoying all the sights and sounds after I finish teaching at Art-Xscape. If you have any suggestions for great stores or places that I must put on my to-do list, I’ll take ’em.

Registration for Art-Xscape is open now. I’m happy to say that I developed a brand new workshop that I thought would be perfect for Texans and other art makers who enjoy cowgirl chic. It’s called Buckle Up, Baby. We’ll spend the day learning about Iced Enamels and other cold enameling techniques, as well as making jewelry-sized collages for belt buckles that we encase in ICE Resin.

Last year during the Tucson Gem and Mineral show I found really high-quality antique brass belt buckles. I bought a dozen and couldn’t wait to return to my studio to create. Like a lot of what I do, I went into the studio and spent a couple of days trying to push the limits with my techniques and materials. The results ended up in some pretty fun pieces. I took the best of my techniques, bought more buckles and created a new workshop. I’m thrilled to be debuting it in Austin.

Jen Cushman Resin Belt Buckles

I’ll also be teaching two more resin workshops while I’m there. The first is Create and Resinate, where I teach the basics and beyond of working with ICE Resin. I’ll also be teaching mold making and casting, which is honestly my all time favorite thing to do with resin because I get to play with found objects, as well as molding putty, acrylic paints, Gilder’s Paste, mica powders. We spend a lot of time working on the surface design techniques I’ve developed that pretty much guarantees people cannot tell the difference between the real and cast objects.

If you’re looking for an intimate art retreat getaway in a great city take a peek at the Art-Xscape website. It’s October 8-12 so there’s plenty of time to grab your best artsy friend and plan a road trip with me. I bet we could have some serious fun in Austin together.

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

 

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

TUCSON2015graphic

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