What do you love?

Resin Clay heart and Wirewrapping that I created for Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Form, Fold and Forge Metal Jewelry Designs

Resin Clay heart and Wirewrapping that I created for Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Form, Fold and Forge Metal Jewelry Designs (North Light Books 2013)


Years ago in my life before children and before art, even before marriage I once had a very intellectual collage roommate. She and I would stay up drinking red wine until the wee hours of the night and discussing random things when we should’ve been studying. I remember one conversation very clearly on a Valentine’s eve (which unfortunately coincided with the one month breakup from her boyfriend) where the topic of love naturally came up. Not love as in relationships but people using the word so casually in American society. My friend, born in Canada and raised in Israel, insisted that Americans “love” everything. I remember agreeing with her, mostly because I thought she was much more worldly and smart than I was at the time. Fast forward 20+ years to the person I am now and plunk me down in the middle of that conversation and I would have lots more to say. Since I’ve long lost touch with my collage friend, I realized today — Valentine’s Day 2014 is as good a time as any to opine on love.

The word love is a staple in my vocabulary. It’s part of my speech and my immediate thinking. It’s how I define and categorize the things I see, hear, smell, feel and listen to in my life. It’s one of the ways I incorporate my experiences into my daily life as a wife, mother, artist, instructor, business partner, writer, daughter, sister and friend. When I have a new experience, even something as simple as choosing to take a different route home from dropping my kids off at school in the sincere hopes of getting a glimpse of something new that might inspire, I tend to immediately identify in terms of clarity and contrast — love/hate or even the more benign like/dislike. Did I love it? Did that poppy colored jacket on the pedestrian walking along the street inspire me to look at a different color palette? How did the poppy look against the green of the grass behind her? How would it look if I lay on the ground and looked at the poppy against the bright blue of the sky? A three-second glimpse can turn into a full 15 minutes of questions, answers and discoveries in my mind if I allow it the time to wander.

I also love things because I’m a fairly passionate person. It’s seems easy enough to love when you find life interesting. Not that life is always rosy, because goodness knows there are hardships and heartaches at many turns and bends for everyone and everything fortunate to walk the planet today. However, I tend to think curious people are also passionate people. How can one ever be bored when there’s another question to ask and answer to uncover? I think it’s these inherent traits that makes me not just love things, but looooovvvveeee them. I bet you and I are not that much different when it comes down to it.

Here’s a quick, off-the-top-of-my-head Valentine’s Day list of things I looooovvvvveeeee. When you’ve read through these, please take a moment if you have the time to respond with an item or two of your own. I really, really want to know. What do you love???

Jen’s Hopelessly Incomplete List of Loves –

Rainstorms in the desert ◊ The shape of a house – tall ones, fat ones, skinny ones, crooked ones, anything that represents home ◊ Any color, tone or hue of blue ◊ A slice of red cutting through the cool of blue ◊ Laughter unfurled, leaving a trail of sound for others to follow ◊ Birds nesting ◊ Dogs sleeping in the sun with real smiles on their faces ◊ Imperfect physical beauty; a mark, a mole, a scar, a gap in the teeth – anything to not be Barbie beautiful ◊ Strong legs ◊ A generous spirit ◊ Kindness offered in the most difficult of circumstances when people are watching ◊ A sharp and clever wit ◊ People who know how to set and hold boundaries ◊ Double rainbows ◊ Sharing information so others can grow and I can learn ◊ The amazing feeling of love.

And just when I thought I couldn’t add one more thing to this post, I open a few days old emails and there’s this gorgeous inspiration from Design Seeds. The second I opened it (a full 2 hours after I wrote the above list), I squealed with an extreme burst of color inspiration. I just had to update so you can visualize it too.

Happy Friday everyone! Thanks so much for all of you who checked out my blog and took the time to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about what kind of jewelry they like or want to make. I also want to give a shout out to Kristal for taking the time to tell such a sweet story about why elephants are a sacred talisman for her. It really touched my soul. I truly believe every human being in the world has a story to tell, and that its through the sharing and telling of stories that we connect with each other on a deeper level. I also want to send a quick thanks to our amazing ICE Resin Creative Team members who shared my giveaway on their Facebook pages — Jen Crossley, Cindy Cima Edwards, Lexi Grenzer and Pamela Huntington. These ladies inspire my soul with their gorgeous creations and I’m so blessed to call them friends.

So the winner of an autographed copy of my book is Yoli! Sent to my blog for the first time from Lexi. As you can see, I used randomnumbergenerator.com and the winner was 22. I counted backwards in the order they appear  from the first person to comment to the last one. Yoli, I sent you an email and need your address. For those of you who didn’t win, keep an eye out on the ICE Queen eZine (our company blog). I will be sprinkling signed book giveaways here on my blog and also there on the company one too. To learn about it, be sure to read the blog and “like” our ICE Resin Facebook page.

random number generator

Happy Hump Day Giveaway

new metalsmithing bookI woke up on the sunny side of the street today after a terrible stress headache that lasted all day yesterday. There are times when all the different things we’re juggling in the air will collide on the same day and then all I want is to crawl back into bed and fast forward to another day. Luckily, the yucky headachy days are few and far between. Anyhoo…..since I am HAPPY, happy, happy today and because I have NOT been able to get my website re-done as of yet with the back-to-back shows, I decided it was time to finally do a book giveaway on my blog.

If you’ve been reading and following my journey, you know that Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Form, Forge and Fold Metal Jewelry Designs is out in major bookstores now. (Yippee!) It’s also available on Amazon. But in order to get a signed copy, you gotta come to me. So, please leave a comment about….hmmmmmm…let’s go with a broad category of jewelry. Tell me what is your favorite kind of jewelry, or what you wish your sweetheart would buy you, or what pieces you long to create, or if you already have my book what project is your favorite one. All I’m looking for is something fun to read about one of my favorite art subjects — Jewelry!

Not only will you get a signed copy of the book, but you will also get an ICE Resin plunger and some of our Art Mechanique cold connection micro nuts and screws. I will keep the giveaway up until Friday morning 8 a.m. MST. And never fear, if you don’t win this one, there will be another give away soon over on the ICE Queen eZine while we are teaching workshops at the To Bead True Blue show in Tucson.

The Whirlwind of 2012

Ta-daaaaa!!! Here is the cover for my brand new DVD on making molds and casting found objects.

Ta-daaaaa!!! Here is the cover for my brand new DVD on making molds and casting found objects.

I know I wrote about filming for Cloth, Paper, Scissors back in November at the Interweave headquarters in Loveland, Colo. It’s hard to believe that my DVD, Breaking Out of the Mold is already available now for pre-order and instant download at the Interweave store. Wowza, let me tell you DVDs move at a breakneck pace as compared to books! I also wanted to let you know that I had the sincere pleasure of meeting another mixed-media artist at the filming; Jenny Cochran Lee. Jenny’s work is incredible. I don’t sew hardly a stitch, so to see her textile work is just jaw dropping to me. I also want to thank Jenny because she did a wonderful post on me and my DVD on her blog today.

There are so many amazing things hitting all at the same time that it’s making my head spin! All of these were in the works last year and I was running as fast as I could to keep up with them all. Seriously, I look back at 2012 and shake my head at how in the heck we managed to get it all done. Finishing my new book with North Light, new product development with ICE Resin, a DVD and a new column with Cloth, Paper, Scissors and also the Designer Showcase next month with Belle Armoire Jewelry in addition to my normal Art Chooses You column for Stampington. When I meet someone and they ask me what I do, I’m not sure quite how to respond so I simply say I’m an artist and a writer.

Life was so busy last year that I really want to take a moment to thank my amazing husband and mother-in-law on my blog (even though neither of them read it. LOL). They were there for me every step of the way, cheering me on and making sure my kids were fed, clothed and happy. I also want to thank my off-the-charts-talented and totally brilliant business partner Susan Lenart Kazmer, who has been going even harder and longer than I have to run our company, while still managing to dream up endless amounts of creative ideas, building two lines (Industrial Chic for Michaels and the new Media Mixage with Spellbinders that debuted at CHA), teaching workshops, running the ICE Resin office and home front, publishing articles and writing her new book, “Resin Alchemy” that is due out in June with Interweave. (Not to mention raising two teenagers and teaching a workshop in France this summer). Then there was the other person who was standing by my side this past year. Kristen Robinson spent 2012 teaching, building her brand new signature line Rue Romantique, publishing articles, doing a DVD for Cloth, Paper, Scissors and writing her second book — as yet untitled — for North Light that’s due out this Fall.

One of the most interesting parts of all of this to me is that the three of us had to keep completely quiet on all that was going on. Sure, bits and pieces here and there were shared on blogs and social media, but most of the time I told Susan and Kristen that it looked like we were all taking long naps in 2012.

Silly me, I didn't get a picture of me and Susan at CHA. Here is one of us shopping at the flea markets in the South of France this summer.

Silly me, I didn’t get a picture of me and Susan at CHA. Here is one of us shopping at the flea markets in the South of France this summer.

My father used to always say I couldn’t keep a secret if my life depended on it. I can say now that he was 100% wrong. I don’t really care for keeping secrets because I’m just the type of person who likes to share. The best part right now is that I can finally breathe. The cats are out of the bag. The only thing left to do is tell the world about all our new adventures and hope people see and respond to the kind of passion we’ve put into our first real love – Mixed-media ART! As for my next goal in 2013, it really is getting to take that long nap I keep talking about.

Kristen and me at Winter CHA 2013.

Kristen and me at Winter CHA 2013.

To everyone who has hung in there with me on my blog this past year, thank you. This goes the same for the new friendships I’ve made on Facebook and the incredible women (and a few men) whom I have met at workshops across the country. I really hope that if no other message comes out of anything that I do it’s this one: Dreams do come true. Nothing is unattainable. You don’t have to be the most talented person on the block, or the skinniest or the prettiest or the most congenial. All you have to be is yourself. Oh, and it helps to also link arms with some pretty amazing friends along the way who always have your back in any situation. (grin)!

Photo tip for rings

One of the things I’m most proud of with my new book is that my wonderful editor and the kind folks at F&W (North Light Books) allowed me to do my own photography. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you might remember that while I was in the middle of shooting my beauty shots (what publishers call the main photos of your art pieces/projects), I was second guessing my ability to play professional photographer.

I’ve been fascinated with photography since collage when I took two semesters and learned how to do it from shooting manual pics (which one had to do with a 35mm camera back then) all the way to darkroom development of the images. I consider myself an amateur photographer, but since I did all of my pics for my first book, I thought it would be fun to do it all over again.

It was A LOT of work. I’m not sure at the moment if I will do it again for my third book, but for now, I’m happy when I see Making Metal Jewelry and look at the way I styled my pics and shot them.

I know many of you who follow my blog make your own beautiful jewelry. One of the hardest things to shoot well are rings. They never look as good laying on their sides, and it’s difficult to get them to stand up straight. I wanted to share a tip I learned during my process of shooting jewelry for publication. Use a small dot of modeling clay or a little bit of that sticky stuff by 3M that you use to hang pictures in your kids rooms or on the fridge.

Be sure to use natural light and a neutral background surface (I have a small set of white ceramic serving plates that I love to style with because they are neutral but shiny so they can catch the light, which allows the metal to sparkle in the photo). An example of this tip is seen here. I rolled up some modeling clay, stuck it to the bottom of my ring and then to the plate, set up the area in my studio that I use for photography and here are the results.   For this little tutorial, I didn’t pull out my lighting tent that I nearly always use when shooting for publication because well, frankly, I’m being a little lazy. Hopefully though there is enough here with these pics to give you the gist.

Here’s another tip, when you shoot your pictures you might see a little bit of the clay poking through. There is where it’s good if you know the basics of  Photoshop Elements or another photo editing program because you can zoom in close and erase those little protruding bits of clay. I left the clay in these photographs that I would normally whisk away in Photoshop so you can see how much I used and how I placed it on the plate for the rings to stand up correctly.

I made these ocean-themed rings using real shells and a sealer cost of resin for Seaside Soiree, which I’m teaching at Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in San Diego. If you are local and want to see me, please stop by the vendor fair Sunday afternoon. I will have ICE Resin products to sell along with some of my jewelry. The art fair is free and open to the public. Elena and the girls will even be putting out sprinkled cupcakes and lemonade for free refreshments too.

Also — just so you know. These prong rings are super simple to make even though they look like complicated metalwork. Why? Well because I used the cast white bronze Art Mechanique  rings available for purchase on our company website. Check them out!


More Moving and a Sneak Peek

Life has been busy the past few weeks with the impending move. I’ve spent the better part of this past week purging and packing my studio. It’s been an interesting outer and inner excavation as I go through my boxes and stuff, accessing if I will ever truly have to time to make X, Y or Z art project that I envisioned for the corresponding object(s).

I think being a mixed-media artist automatically means I’m a hoarder of unusual stuff. One of my favorite ways to spend free time is to scour thrift stores and garage sales treasure hunting for interesting items that I can re-purpose from their worn out and “worthless” state into something unexpected and creative. I know I’m not alone in this obsession, as I have met so many women and men at art retreats across the county who share my affliction. I’ll be thrift shopping and spot something and think, “Oohhhhh this is going to make a fabulous light fixture or assemblage or whatever.” I take it home and do my best to strike while the idea is fresh. However, writing the book and all of the other things we have going on with ICE Resin has put a serious dent in my free time, so I’m unearthing too many unrealized art projects these past few days.

Making Metal Jewelry book photo

Since I’m not quite ready to put photos of my studio in its chaotic, moving state on my blog, I thought it might be fun to every once in a while publish a sneak peek photo of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry. It’s still in the last of the design phase right now. My editor tells me I will have final author review of it next week and then…off to the printers. The date it will be in bookstores across the county is Dec. 13th. Again, Lucky 13!

This little pendant pictured here is one of the “filler” pieces I made. When the writing is done, all the photos are taken and the book is finally laid out in its “thumbnail” format, there will be some holes that need to be filled. It’s up to the author and the editor to decide what to do. I was fortunate that I only had three holes for the entire book, so I quickly whipped out a few “variations” on the main projects to give readers additional design options.

There are a few things I love about this little pendant. First, I made the decision to not flux my sterling silver wire when drawing a bead. Flux helps wire form perfect little balls when dipped into hot flame. However, I really like the reticulation holes and dents made during the melting process so I rarely take the extra few seconds to apply flux. The other thing is that I made the bead caps larger than the crystal focal bead and only lightly dapped the discs. This gives the piece an asymmetrical look and allows the discs to spin, rather than tightly cup the bead.

I don’t mention any of this in the book because it doesn’t seem relevant, but it’s fun to talk about here. I know from my years of profiling artists, I was always interested in their process and why they made the artistic decisions they did. What I learned is that while many artists work intuitively, there is always a measure of control, or a purpose when it comes to utilizing a particular technique. I find the same to be true in my own work.

Next week, I’ll be in the “new” old house. My computer will be down for a few days because hubby is taking this opportunity to back up my hard drive and wipe it clean. A digital fresh start. I’ll be out of sight, out of mind for a while on the blog.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful week (or two) until I see you again.

My book cover!

new metalsmithing book

Here is the very first peek of the cover of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry, due out December 13 by North Light Books. I know what my family and friends are getting for Christmas this year. (grin)

Seriously, it is such a big thing to write a book. It’s an honor, a chore (at times), a thrill, a fear, an exploration, an inner excavation and dozens of other emotions all wrapped together like a giant ball of string!

Tomorrow I will get my first glimpse of the entire book with my author review pages. I need to make the edits and answer all my editor’s questions by Friday so that’s what I’m doing the rest of the week. After that, design happens and it gets wrapped up pretty quickly.

I’ll share more as I can. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!