Wednesday, May 14, 2014

StencilGirl Guest Artist Jen Cushman

Please welcome our Guest Designer today....Jen Cushman!

Hey everyone! I’m so thrilled to be doing a guest spot on the StencilGirl Talk blog today. Most people who know my work think I only make jewelry.  Actually, I’m a mixed-media artist and I work in collage, assemblage and jewelry. But it’s true that for the past three years I have making LOTS of jewelry using metalworking and ICE Resin.

At one time, I was a big rubber stamper and stencil fanatic. This was back in the 1990s when the stencil designs were not that cool and they were mostly bought at the big box craft stores for home d├ęcor.  Man, I stenciled the heck out of our “starter home” because  we didn’t have money for much else but paint.

Then along comes Mary Beth Shaw and StencilGirl Products. I’m so happy to call Mary Beth a friend because she is one wickedly-talented human being. She showed me the very first art stencils she created when we were teaching together at the Art Unraveled art retreat and I was over the moon excited!  Fast forward to now and I’m thrilled to watch her company’s success and see what amazing art and artists StencilGirl Products are inspiring.

For today’s guest post I thought I would do something shocking and NOT make jewelry. (grin). Of course, I had to use ICE Resin, but that’s just because I don’t ever make a piece of art without it. Seriously.

When I looked over all the amazing artist’s stencil designs, it was like being in a chocolate shop the day you decide to ditch the diet. Soooooo many great choices! I decided I wanted to stretch myself and choose something a little out of my comfort zone.  I tend to use lots of bright colors in my work so I wanted to experiment with a soothing color palette and a natural theme. Celestial Grove Stencil by Kae Pea fit the assemblage idea I had in my head perfectly. 

For a substrate, I pulled a wooden painter’s palette from my stash.  I painted a quick coat of white gesso for a base and let dry. I then placed the stencil on the palette and started painting with acrylics. Since I wanted to keep things simple, I kept my colors pretty straightforward. Green for the bamboo grove and orange, yellow and red for the sunset. 

A little bit of dark green for shading and some white helped to pop the bamboo from the background. I added a journal quote with a black Sharpie marker.

Next came ICE Resin. I mixed up a full calibrated cup that comes with our doming kit and then put on a pair of disposable latex gloves. Rather than using a disposable paintbrush, I just pour the mixed resin onto the painted wood and used my gloved fingers to spread it around. (A bit messy, but no brush marks this way ever).  I kept it on my silicone craft mat to dry overnight (ICE Resin takes 8-10 hours to dry) and woke up the next day to a beautiful first layer.

I did a small amount of doodling with my white Sharpie marker – just a few lines here and there to give it a more art journaling look. (Yes, you can draw on dry ICE Resin. Something I’m teaching more in depth in Chicago at my Art Journal Jewelry class at the CREATE mixed media art retreats. Come join me!). 

The final step was to grab some of the disposable paint brushes that I use in Iced Enamels when doing Cold Enameling.  (I never throw them away but keep a stash on hand to repurpose into my work).  Little blobs of paint on the already resined brushes added a touch of color. I let those dry and then mixed up a little more ICE Resin and painted a thin layer onto the piece. I arranged the paint brushes on the painting in an artful manner with a little bit of extra  resin as “glue” and let the whole thing dry another 8 hours.  ICE makes a great glue. Anything you place on it while wet, which stick permanently while it cures. Those brushes are never coming off!

I do need to add a picture hanger and wire onto the back of the piece to hang it. For photo purposes I placed it on the thumbhole, but it hangs a little wonky.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tutorial as much as I did creating it. If you want to see more of my work, you can go to my WEBSITE  or subscribe to my BLOG.

ARTIST BIO: Jen Cushman is a natural storyteller who found mixed media art 14 years ago and never looked back. She is drawn to the imperfect, the funky, the quirky, the artsy and the authentic: be it people or objects or art. Her work has been widely published in national art and jewelry magazines, and she currently writes a DIY colum called "The Mixed Media Metalsmith" for Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. She is the author of two jewelry books, and she travels the country teaching collage, assemblage and jewelry making techniques. An inspiring speaker, Jen's been invited to present talks on business, marketing and creativity at conferences and art events. She is Vice President and Partner of Susan Lenart Kazmer LLC/ICE Resin. To learn more about ICE Resin, visit the company's website.


  1. Wow! I love this palette transformation, Jen!
    Absolutely wonderful!!

  2. Wow!! Love what you have created! So excited you chose Celestial Grove! I am totally inspired!

  3. Fun project, Jen! You are such a great writer, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post :)

  4. Jen, this is so great, love it. You are so multi talented.

  5. Wonderful concept and I love the colors.

  6. Thanks everyone. I had a really good time making the piece and writing the tutorial. I'm a Stencil Girl addict! -- Jen

  7. What a great project Jen - love the colors and the palette was the perfect shape for this!

  8. Such a huge fan of yours Jen and this piece just rocks. What a great idea to use old brushes in the piece!! Hope to take one of your resin classes one day!

  9. This is pretty creative! I love that you ice resined it for a beautiful finish! Great piece!

  10. Beautiful work Jen. It was so inspired to use a painter's palette as a substrate and the paint brushes as part of the piece as well!


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