Editor’s Note: Studio Saturday is taking a short break and will return next week. Please enjoy this glimpse inside Jen Cushman’s art studio! This Studio Spotlight is also featured in the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.
Every artist who sets up a studio should take a page from Jen Cushman’s playbook. This mixed-media artist who specializes in jewelry had a thoughtful approach to setting up her home studio when she and her family moved in to their Arizona house five years ago. “I took a complete assessment of how I like to work,” she says. “I wrote down what materials I use most often, where my stumbling blocks tended to occur, and what drove me crazy—for example, if I had to stop everything and rummage for a particular type of glue. Then I created an organization system and workflow tailored specifically to these issues. My studio has been an evolution.” For the last details, Jen brought in a professional organizer for a bit of professional help. “I finally have it working perfectly for me,” she says.
That carefully calculated arrangement includes specific spots for using drills and torches, and ones for patinas and other wet mediums. Jewelry, collage, and assemblage components are kept in clear plastic shoeboxes that are stacked and stored in two large cabinets, and in tables located throughout the space. The sorting gets pretty granular. There’s a box for white four-hole mother-of-pearl buttons, and one for white two-hole mother-of-pearl buttons. All that organizing allows Jen some freedom. “I love to be messy and dig through my stuff looking through the best objects to represent my vision, and then create with wild abandon.”
What really catches visitors’ eyes when they walk into the spacious, airy room is the abundance of original art and unique vintage pieces that peek out from shelves, sit atop cabinets, and hang from hooks on the wall. Vintage dress forms are bedecked with Jen’s handmade jewelry pieces, her assemblages are tucked into shelves, and bright, collaged tags are clipped to the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Most of the pieces are her class samples that were too indispensable to sell, but Jen explains that as her business plan changes, so does her desire to collect the work of other artists. “My intention is to collect more of my amazing artist friends’ work and have a much broader visual representation of inspiration in my studio,” she says.
As for what inspires her to combine original art with touchstone vintage pieces, Jen says, “I am always looking for a change in perspective, for a shift to happen. I delight in the unexpected. I go out of my way to create beauty and tell stories by piecing together random things that seem to have zero commonality. I like soft next to hard edges. I like metal next to velvet. In our busy world, it’s my hope that in a brief moment I might catch someone, and they will see me. They will see who I am, and what I’m trying to share with the world.”
Jen Cushman is a natural storyteller who found mixed media art 17 years ago and never looked back. She’s drawn to the imperfect, the funky, the quirky, the artsy and the authentic: be it people or objects or art. Author of two books, her work has also been widely published in national art and jewelry magazines. She travels and teaches collage, assemblage and jewelry making techniques. An inspiring speaker, Jen’s been invited to share her knowledge of women in business and living a creative life at industry conferences and art events. Visit Jen’s website at jencushman.com.
For more with Jen, don’t miss her tutorial for creating a rustic wire star tree topper.
Plus, check out our November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine for more ideas and inspiration, including a look at how Jen created a handmade book with unique meaningful materials.