Off to CHA 2016

As you know, we have a brand new partnership with Ranger Industries. Susan Lenart Kazmer is the Creative Director of ICE Resin and my new title is the Director of Education for ICE Resin. These last five months have been a whirlwind of constant activity, but it’s all been behind the scenes stuff as Susan, myself and every single one of the amazing people at Ranger have been working on the brand new 2016 Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin releases. The time is finally here!!! I’m heading to CHA — the Craft and Hobby Association megashow today (Friday, Jan 8th) to join up with everyone and see with my own eyes our brand new booth. I will also get to see all the new product packaged, displayed and ready to go. It’s an incredibly exciting time and, honestly, a dream come true.

Susan and I feel great about the new products and the entire SLK line. Her vision has never wavered, and she’s known from the get-go exactly what she wants to see on store shelves everywhere. Ranger’s commitment to quality has been outstanding. We’ve been testing the new products; coming up with brand new art techniques to show our students, friends and fans; working with their graphics team on all improved packaging and the branding expert and digital content manager and all the rest of the million and one little details that it takes to bring products to market.

Ranger did a sneak peek of the new products on Monday. If you missed it, here is the link to the press releases. Also, I did a series of beginning educational videos to be released this year. Here’s a link to the first one I did showing how to use the new 8oz kit. Others will be coming after CHA when everyone gets back to the office.

Susan is teaching an artisan class tonight at CHA. I’ll be teaching the ICE Resin Basics and Beyond class Monday morning. These classes are for the arts and crafts industry and taught to store owners so they can learn how to use the products and, hopefully, head home after the show to develop great classes for their people. You must be a CHA member to take these classes and gain entry to the show. Here is a peek at the necklace my students will be making. It uses the faux opal technique, collaging a bezel and also my absolute favorite thing to do with ICE Resin — casting!

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Remember though we will at the To Bead True Blue show is Tucson teaching with our new products and techniques and Ranger will also have an ICE Resin booth were it will be the first time where people can purchase the new stuff, along with all the other SLK products and lots of ICE Resin, of course. Interested in registering? Head on over to Susan’s website.

If you’re interested in CHA and want to watch some of the goings on from your home, be sure to check out Charity Wings. My friend Elena Lai Etcheverry is doing free livestreaming from the show floor Saturday and Sunday. She’ll be interviewing us noon PST Saturday at the booth. Here is a picture of a new ICE Resin necklace I made her to wear at the show. Her organization’s logo is a heart with wings, which is one of my favorite art symbols too. It’s about four layers of resin, vintage mother of pearl buttons and uses Tim Holtz’ Ideaology wings covered in Iced Enamels.

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Also be sure to follow ICE Resin Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. To stay up on all the Ranger Signature Designers, be sure to follow their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts too. Lots to see!

After the show is over, I’m heading to the Charity Wings Art Center to spend some time  at the first ever after-CHA designer party. So many friends only see each other once a year and it’s always so crazy at the show that Elena organized a get together where we can all have some downtime and just chat and relax. I’ll be returning home next week, take a long weekend with my family and then gear up immediately for To Bead True Blue.

If you are looking for art retreats this year, please check out my website to see where I’m teaching. I’ll also be adding new ones as they come up. 2016 is off to a busy start! How lucky am I???

Here’s wishing you an incredibly ARTFUL 2016 for yourselves.

JenSig

A new direction

Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman

Susan and me in Madrid, Spain on our unintended day trip after our flight home from France was cancelled. Here we are doing one of the things we like to do — turning lemons into champagne by creating new experiences.

Have you seen the news on the ICE Resin blog?

We’ve entered an exclusive manufacturing and distribution agreement with Ranger Industries for Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin products. Susan and I are staying on to continue working this beautiful ship we’ve built and help steer it in exciting new directions. I cannot tell you how happy we are to have found the perfect partnership to make ICE Resin grow and bloom into everything Susan wanted it to be when she founded it eight years ago. This change is going allow us to focus on our core competencies. I do want to take a moment to acknowledge what an incredible business woman Susan is. Most people see this amazing artist, but they have no idea how much smarts, grace, strategic thinking and hard work she put into her position as President and Founder.  It’s been an honor to work with her.

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Susan is now Creative Director of ICE Resin. She gets to do what she does best and loves the most: think, dream, build, invent and inspire all amazing things jewelry and mixed-media related. Watch out world, and unfettered Susan Lenart Kazmer is a beautiful thing to watch indeed. Stay tuned! I’ve seen a little bit of what’s to come and I’m blown away. As Education Director, I’ll focus on what I love — being an art educator and creating DIY programs to showcase all the the amazing techniques Susan’s developed over the years so others can continue to learn how to use resin and SLK products in their own art making. We will continue to teach workshops, create videos, do online education, write books and articles and pursue new opportunities. We’ll continue to do new product development for ICE Resin hand-in-hand with Ranger. This is the big time, folks.

One of the biggest challenges of being an artist-based company is that we’ve had to take on all the company responsibilities as we were growing. Finances, sales, manufacturing, trade show logistics, vendor relations, customer service and a host of other tasks that are absolutely essential to running a successful business. We’ve stuck together and done it, even though we’ve had some rough patches where we’ve looked at each other and said “What are we doing? We’re artists”!!!

We woke up every day and put one foot in front of another and grew the company. We “made the donuts” (remember that old Dunkin Donuts commercial?) because we have responsibilities that we’ve always taken very seriously to our customers, employees and creative team of artists. Last year, it became clear to us that in order to up level ICE Resin to the next big rung of success, we needed to find the right partners who shared our vision and also our deep commitment to our creative tribe and industry. This process was a long one that developed after many months and meetings. It was a literal meeting of the minds with every conceivable detail being worked out.

So begins a new chapter, more like a new book; a sequel. The characters are in place, the journey continues, the plot thickens. Keep reading. Hopefully we can make this next book a page-turner. I can promise you that we will never be out of ideas. With Ranger’s support, now is the time to fly.

Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman Boat in Paris

Cheers!

Viva La France

I’m so excited! The time has come for our workshop in France. I’m heading out Thursday and come this weekend, I’ll be wandering through all the amazing Paris flea markets with Susan and our students looking for centuries-old treasures to not only inspire me, but also to re-purpose into mixed-media art! After five days in Paris, we’re heading by high-speed train to the South of France for our retreat.

Since there’s still a million and one things I need to do before I leave, I thought I’d give you all a quick photo collage of some of the past pictures from our Relics, Ruins and Resin Alchemy workshop.

Ruins Relics and Resin with Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jen Cushman

This workshop is a big undertaking with lots of logistics and a small, intimate group of people. Our students are not only looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience but are dedicated to digging deeper into their work and getting a full immersion experience in the best techniques Susan Lenart Kazmer‘s developed throughout her 25-plus art career. I’m really looking forward to teaching the ICE Resin and casting part of this workshop. Susan, of course, is going to be teaching her amazing soldering and caging, forging, brazing and wireworking techniques. I’ll be listening and soaking it all up, not to mention I plan to come home with some amazing new jewelry of my own.

Interested in learning more about our trip, jump over to the ICE Resin website workshops page. Want to see more on this magical retreat known as La Cascade, be sure to click the link.

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Once I return in two weeks, I’m planning to do a series of blog posts on the trip. I plan to share some video, lots of pics and more information about La Cascade and what it, and France in general, means for me personally and for my soul’s growth.

Bon Voyage everyone. Stay well, happy and creative.

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

 

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

 

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

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