About Me

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JLynn has been in the Art, Craft & Jewelry industry for over 30 years ~ promoting creativity through Education and Media. As a published designer, JLynn is known for her detailed, colorful Jewelry, unique Altered ART Wood Tiles, and Artwork. Online since 2004, a former eBay Power Seller, and currently on Artfire and Etsy. Family, Art, Nature and Kaleidoscopes are her biggest inspirations

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trick or Treat?

Are you ready for all the little Goblins?  Ready or not - the time has come...Halloween for me is a fun time - I love Fall and really get a kick out of the little kids coming to our door.  We decorate a bit...but the main thing is putting out the strobe lights which seem to be a big hit (as one of the tiny guys in the neighborhood said..."This is ssscawwrrry, sssskawery house" - I think he was 3 - LOL.
Halloween also symbolizes what I think of as the kick-off to the Holiday season - it's when we start hearing "where has all the time gone...I can't believe Christmas will be here in less than 8 weeks"!  Yikes...my goal has always been to get my Holiday shopping complete by Thanksgiving - but at the same time I LOVE enjoying the current season.

So - my TREAT for my customers & FACEBOOK FANS. . . receive FREE SHIPPING and a FREE pair of Sterling Silver Teardrop Earrings (your color choice) when you spend $15 or more in my ETSY or ARTFIRE shops/studios.  Simply enter GOBLIN in the comment section at checkout.  If you're not a Fan of our Facebook page yet - join us and you'll be eligible for our special sales & giveaways.

Happy Halloween everyone :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Craft Closet Secrets!

It's been a busy 5 days since I last posted!
Between checking in orders, shipping out orders, decorating for fall (finally...) and my daughter's homecoming (pictured - the bracelet she wore - Sterling Silver, Ametrine gemstones & Swarovski Crystals)
...Things have been a tad busy and I'm ready for a mini-vacation :)

So...you're wondering what the Craft Closet Secrets are?
Well - I'm in the process of working on a few new projects (I'll reveal that in a week or so...) but  wanted to share and hopefully shed light on the mystery of paints, inks and mediums.  I've been known as the "Jackie" of all trades because I've professionally taught & demonstrated a variety of arts and crafts for a number of years - and the simple fact that I don't think there's a technique I haven't tried LOL.  Storage wise - I have a couple different areas where I store my "things"...a Linen Closet in my Bedroom has Scrapbooking, Rubber Stamping and Needleart supplies and a Hall closet downstairs houses a lot of jewelry supplies...but this week my focus has been on what I have designated as my "Fine Arts" craft closet. 

So - here's some of my Craft Closet Secrets...the below picture is of my Fine Arts closet in the Laundry Room (it has a huge utility sink which comes in handy).  This basically has my supplies for Drawing/Sketching, Watercolors, Acrylics (craft & art), Pastels, Embossing, Inks and lots more.  I use a variety of bags, refurbished every day items (like my paint brush holder on the lower right...it was an old plastic big drink holder that I covered with art material), cosmetic cases, wooden planters, clay pots, plastic bins and yes - the ever wonderful Ziploc bags!

Here's a photo of just some of the items from my closet...

If you're into crafts...chances are you have used Plaid/Delta "Acrylic" paints - these are water soluble, thin paints and easy to work with - a favorite among crafters.  The 3 tubes you see in the front are the "Artist Grade" version of acrylic paints - Liquitex (who was acquired by ColArt in 2000) is an old favorite of mine.  These paints are a nice upgrade from your regular craft paints...they are "high viscosity" (meaning they have a heavy body which is thicker, richer and covers effortlessly).  Like regular craft paints - they can also be thinned down with water or mediums (depending on what you are painting on). 

The colorful plastic small jars on the right are powdered pigments from LuminArte - you mix a little bit with medium solutions depending on whether you want to paint on glass, leather, fabric, paper, plastic or walls.   The benefit to these is that they are ground pure color with mica powder for added sparkle.  If you don't like mixing or are an impatient painter...know that you will be mixing a lot, and that the paint can take up to 72 hours to fully dry (despite this...these paints are gorgeous when dry).

Now the tiny small bottles (back left) are 3 of my favorites...Lumiere Acrylic, Pinata & Ranger Adirondack (permanent inks).  The Lumiere can be used on virtually any surface and applied with brush, air brush, stamp or sponge.  Lumiere I've used straight and heavily thinned down on my Watercolors - and I've also used them on my Brass metal blanks.  Pinata and Ranger Inks can be used on any surface...(Pinata I've used to paint on Porcelain beads) they are indelible in water and permanent (they are also acid-free making them a favorite for scrapbooking too).  Both inks can be diluted (so that the vibrant tones are lightened or can be mixed with other colors) with Alcohol Blending Solution - which I LOVE.  I've used a variety of things to apply the inks...from the inexpensive Q-tips and make-up foam wedges, and brushes - to professional ink pens, bottle sprayers, and removeable ink pads and dabbers.  I'm having such a fun time experimenting with these inks.  I've invested in these a little bit at a time (if you shop at Jo-Ann's, Hobby Lobby, Michaels or AC Moores use their 40% off coupons) and purchase the 3 packs of Ranger Inks (usually in the rubber stamping section)...and your blending items will be located in the Craft Paint section and some will be found in the Fine Arts Section.

The best advice I can give...make sure your painting surface is clean and use the correct medium!  If you're painting on fabric - a Fabric Medium is a must if you want to utilize your Acrylic paints and have your painted surface flexible and washable (it is cost effective to simply purchase a bottle of medium versus 8 bottles of fabric paint - which is acrylic paint with your fabric medium pre-mixed).  Next time you are in the craft store - check out all the mediums available - they are not scary or difficult to use.  

So...Two mediums that I can't do without?  Color Float AND Blending Solution.  Color Floats makes painting easier because when mixed with your paint - it makes shading and highlighting effects so much easier, it increases the time you have to blend your paint, and eliminates frequent brush reloading.   The last favorite is Tim Holtz (Ranger Inks) Alcohol Blending Solution.  These are used to lighten the inks, blend colors - or simply reworking or removing ink (from your project, tool or hands).  It's a good idea to wear old clothing...and invest in some latex free gloves so your fingers don't become an ink kaleidoscope of colors LOL. 

Here's a photo of some Vintaj Natural Brass blanks that I embossed with the Cuttlebug machine a month or so ago.  These were highlighted with Ranger Inks and a few with Lumiere Acrylic paint (mixed with a blender).  I then took a very fine sandpaper and did a little relief to let some of that brass show through.  
These blanks look great as is...but you can give them an additional finishing touch...use a varnish (matte, satin or gloss) for an additional protective layer - or you can do a Crackle finish on them - I do a layer of clear varnish and let dry...then I apply a coat of crackle finish and let it dry until "tacky"...then add the finishing touch with another clear layer of clear varnish (the crackle starts crackling almost immediately.  If you want an even more vintage look...when your last coate is dry - you can apply an antiqued stain. 

If you're interested in creating something that looks a little more glass like in appearance - try another favorite of mine...Ice Resin (this is a crystal clear resin that you need to mix)...but if you're not comfortable with mixing - try the Diamond Glaze (a water based dimensional adhesive which creates that lacquer like finish and is mixable with inks).  Here's a photo of the upper left blank with Diamond Glaze applied to it.
Tip...Diamond Glaze can be used right from it's container...it's an adhesive for beads, glass, plastic, paper...but is also a Finish.  Remember when applying to not shake the bottle (keep it steady and not bouncing up and down to avoid air bubbles).  When it first comes out it will give the appearance of a violet opal color - but as it dries it shrinks a bit and turns clear. If you're after a shiny, glossy, slightly thick surface (a higher gloss than a simple varnish would give you)...one coat is usually good.  If you'd like a really thick raised surface, simply do multiple layers.  Just make sure that you allow it to dry in between coats.  If by chance you get air bubbles (very likely your first time) you can move them off your surface with the tip of the glaze bottle by gently pushing it off the edge or area you are working on - or use a hatpin or needle to pop or move the bubble.  Usually it's best to keep the tip of the bottle slightly ABOVE your surface (as opposed to sliding the tip directly on the surface) - this helps you keep a smooth, even application. 

Happy Creating :) - if you have questions, feel free to email me!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Great Day!

This morning was my dreaded six month check-up to the Dentist (his biz name is "Smilemakers" as if going there makes me smile haha).  I've been blessed with many things in my life...but strong teeth is not one of them (I've had a LOT of dental work done...crowns, bridges, extractions...I've had so much work done that they've named a chair after me - LOL - well not really but we have joked about it in the office)!  They also get a kick out of how I term my future dental work...I've nick-named it the "Hit-List" - this of course being the teeth that need to be crowned.  Although one was added today bringing my total up to 4 on the Hit List...I got off with a "think about it" - which I took to mean...I squeeked by without any pressure to schedule any dental work and therefore was granted another six months of freedom YAY!  I am celebrating BIG because I was SO dreading this day...and now that I'm safe and sound back home - it's design, design, design - torch, torch, torch...I will definitely be sharing some new stuff in the next couple of days.  It's a phewwwwww type of feeling with a little shuffle and Happy Dance right now :) - can you hear me laughing???

If you've caught some of my Flickr photos at the bottom right (which I will be updating soon...) - you may have noticed a "Winter" scene from when we had our Blizzard last year.  Well below is a picture of the same tree and what it currently looks like on this gorgeous day of 10/21/10!  I love my front door...it has these really beautiful bezel panels that just happen to frame my Maple Tree in the front yard.  I think the picture turned out super and hope you like it too!

If you're not having a super Thursday yet - hope this cheers you up a bit - sometimes it's the little things that bring a smile to your face :) blue skies & sunshine help - well, I'm off to design and possibly pull some things to get decorated for Halloween & Fall (finally).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Foliage & OOPS!

Today my daughter had a Dance Workshop at a College Campus about an hour from us.  My husband and I got to spend a little time outside and while walking from one building to another...I snapped these fun shots of some Fall Foliage.  There was a lot of play between the shadows, blue sky and sunshine.  The first two were shot looking up through the trees (and I just love the 2nd shot because it looks like the leaves are "glowing" :) - It is SO nice to have my camera back from repairs!

Oh...and were you wondering about my OOPS?  Well - here's a funny for you!  The other day I thought I had placed my entire ARTFIRE store on sale...when I checked in this evening I noticed something fishy about my prices (the sale price was only a few cents off from the original prices).  What???  I check my settings and sure enough...instead of inputting 25% off - I must have input .25% off (as in a decimal point before the 25).   OOPs...sorry about that - but at least it's all FIXED now :)

I'll be torching and designing most of tomorrow - have a super Monday!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Photo Inspiration & Gemstone Lore Fun!

Good Morning everyone!  It's a beautiful day here in Maryland...stunning blue skies, gorgeous leaf coloring and cool weather - it finally feel like FALL!  Yay...my favorite time of the year!   I wanted to share a few designs inspired by a photo submitted by Amanda (Seashore Glass) during our September Photo Contest which when you look at it - just gives the impression of power, relaxation, and serenity - well at least for me LOL.  Amanda told me she took this photo the morning after a storm moved through the Oregon coastline and re-arranged some things. Here's Amanda's inspirational photo:

And here's a pair of earrings inspired by the photo...

For me - the picture symbolizes that no matter what Mother Nature or other forces hit you with...you need to find your center.  I wanted to stick with an earthy palette of colors and used Black Onyx (said to relieve worries & protect from negativity), Tigers Eye (said to help  you focus on practicality and symbolizes peacefulness/calmness), Riverstone (said to symbolize truth, kindness and used to bring good fortune), Swarovski crystal and the large faceted black beads you see are actually Czech Melon style beads (they look like onyx though).  I love finding meaning behind every design - so whether you're a firm believer or just like to have a little fun with Gemstone Lores...check out the link on my main website at http://www.jlynnjewels.com/Gemstone-Lore-Facts_ep_95.html

Here's more photo inspirations...the photo on the left was our WINNER or the Photo Inspiration Contest from September (Shay Burrows) - it's of a really unique tree found on a nature walk in New Hampshire...and the picture on the right was my interpretation of that woodland feel...I loved this picture so much that I've created an entire collection surrounding the Woods...called "Woodland Walk"!
Don't miss our ARTFIRE FALL sale...25% off all items (including our already marked down overstocks).  Spend $35 and receive FREE SHIPPING if you live in the USA or Canada.

Have an inspiring day today and enjoy the Fall weather - wherever you are!
If you enjoyed this post...please SHARE with your friends and encourage them to JOIN us :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

ARTFIRE - handmade marketplace & pre-grand opening sale!

We are NEW to ARTFIRE and I'm loving it so far :) - the ease of listing, making updates and connecting everything is simply wonderful!
ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

Currently - we're almost finished with our product uploads & hope to have the rest complete by 11/1/10 for our "Artfire Grand Opening" (click on the right sidebar box to view our progress).  But since we're excited with our progress...we're having a 25% off FALL SALE on everything in our store NOW (including overstocks priced at wholesale).  We hope you can join us for a little pre-holiday shopping or to pick up something special for yourself.    FREE SHIPPING on orders over $35 if you reside in the USA or Canada (this is an automatic promotion - no coupon code is necessary).

There are so many ways to shop and find really nice handcrafted things on ARTfire!

Expanding my Horizons...

It's official...my new Blog is now "live"...
Although I'm still a little apprehensive about sharing my thoughts and "blogging" - I am bravely expanding my horizons in the hope of sharing more of my inspirations for jewelry designs, along with my "moments" of craziness, laughter, and stupidity (like DUH...I can't believe I did that!).  So hopefully you'll find me amusing enough to start "following" LOL.  If you're a seasoned blogger - do share your wisdom, as I need all the help I can get!

The last couple days my thoughts have been centered on the creative process... and all the steps in between (mainly because I've been cleaning up my workspace).  Most of you only get to see the final piece...but have you ever wondered what the "production" stage looks like...the amount of supplies...the endless possibilities and choices...the mess??   I have quite a few creative friends...and I can tell you that most of us are MESSY.  This of course is not to say that I can't be organized...because I am - it's just I have my own method of organization (my husband who is a Civil Engineer...well - let's just say he looks at it and thinks "chaos" LOL).  

Designing...I love the process of choosing beads and planning designs, then grouping components and findings together in "project bags".  It's one of my favorite things to do...next to designing and shopping for beads/unique findings :). I work on these really soft foam mats (they help to keep things from rolling around).  My rule of thumb for design time is that I can have no more than 3 mats full on my table before I need to "clean-up" and take the time to put everything back in their proper storage places so that I can start with a clean slate AGAIN!  Yesterday was one of those days that went whizzing by way too fast...between listing, website improvements, juggling sales platforms (Etsy, Artfire, Zibbet, and my own site) AND squeezing in some design planning time - it was close to 2am before I rolled into bed - yes I'm a night owl and seem to be able to function on 5-6 hours of sleep.

So the process?  Sometimes you know as soon as you see the focal - what the design will be...some nights I dream about designs and wake up to sketch them in the pale moonlight...and sometimes you just have fun pulling out your beads and findings and take pleasure in visualizing multiple possibilities (which often leads to an entire line or series - such as my newest Woodland Walk and Woodland Romance series). 

I create many of my own focal beads & pieces...but what also makes my designs special is when I can highlight other artisans creative pieces.  Collaborations are so much fun!  When I find someone I like - I'm a very bad shop-o-holic and wind up having a design day that's named after them! These were some of my purchases for a Menagerie Studio Day with "Martha" (the artisan that creates these beautiful clay focal pieces that have been created with a combination of materials and antiqued in a shabby chic style - they are simply amazing and I can't wait for the rest of my supplies to arrive :)

OK - well that's my little "spout-off" for my first post.  I can guarantee that not all of my posts will be this lengthy...you just caught me on one of my chatty, social days!  Have a good one!