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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Uniqueness Grows...

Spring Fever anyone?
Well it's been a super busy month for me with MANY Custom Orders...
but despite getting sidetracked with beautiful weather...a Wedding and few other events...
I'm valiantly trying to get caught up with Listing, Data Entry and Website updates

About this time every year, I take a "Creative Hiatus" - it's a time when I focus on the things I've been saying I'm going to do, and haven't made time to do, yet.  It doesn't always work out the way I originally visualized - but about halfway into my Hiatus - there is always some sort of epiphany...a sudden realization of something important, while I'm seemingly doing something very mundane.  Yes, it happened...the epiphany that is...yesterday.  And although my Creative Hiatus ~ in terms of getting things done...hasn't really happened yet, my thought process is definitely in high gear!  

We are all our own worst critic, aren't we?  You know the funny thing here is that I've been designing and selling jewelry since the 1980s...and although I'll admit to being pretty hard on myself...I still give myself credit, where credit is due.  And one thing is certain - I've become comfortable in the realization that there will never be enough time to get everything I want to get done - done!  Despite that, I've had a tremendous amount of success in not only selling retail/wholesale, but working in the Corporate fields of Accounting and Marketing.  Plus, over the years, I've been able to expand my techniques, and what some would call "stepping out of my comfort zone" time and time again.  But you know what?  At almost 50...I'm comfortable with being me - and I don't feel the need to do "everything" - and I don't feel like I'm in competition with anyone other than myself...so although I'm still very passionate about developing new techniques, teaching, sharing, learning and promoting new products - I've learned along the way, that I need to take time for me - and to stay true to the Artisan inside of me and my own uniqueness.  It's so vital to grow your own Uniqueness - so I hope you spend time nuturing that side of you too.


As William Shakespeare said..."Striving to be better, oft we mar what's well" ~ and in the creative industry, many people will either try to do everything, or get so tied up in trying to be like someone else...that they lose site of all that is unique about themselves and their designs.  Really think about that...and also think about how much time you spend on your favorite Social sites like Facebook...because along with the good of connections and networking - comes a different set of peer pressure, various "groups", and a constant visual distraction in the form of a scrolling newsfeed 24/7.  Add a variety of picture sharing, lovely compliments, along with some innuendos and not so nice comments...well is it any wonder, when you combine these things together, that if you let it...these things can really do a number on your own inspiration process, as well as, put a damper on your creativity and bring productivity to a screeching hault.  Plus if you add the pressures of running a business, the challenges associated with online exposure, SEO placement, and publicity - many individuals will find themselves manipulating their creations to "fit" the mainstream, taking shortcuts, and quite possibily finding themselves getting depressed because they didn't accomplish much that day.  And because of all these self inflicted pressures, very often these same people will start comparing themselves to others, and lose site of themselves. 

So my best advice?  Take some precious time for being YOU, trust in your own thoughts, pay attention to your surroundings, and enjoy a portion of the day "unplugged".  In this day and age...I think it's vitally important to find a healthy balance between the realities of the e-social sites AND the reality of your day to day living and life and to celebrate and give credit to the unique part of YOU.

Now, don't get me wrong...emulating someone you have a lot of respect for in the industry can be a good thing.  We all have "mentors" - those we look up to for their design quality, techniques, and work ethics.  My Mentor was from the other side of the tracks...Home Improvement - and he helped me become a much more focused and organized business person.  I think it's natural to be influenced and challenge yourself to work harder as an equal...but it's important to do that in your own, unique way (and not as an imitation/copier of said mentor). 

Ironically, just this morning I  finished reading an article about how so many people in the handmade marketplace (namely Etsy/Artfire) are wondering if it's better to have your own website presence.  The article talked about the benefits of each, but targeted Etsy as one of the places to easily research the success of competitors, in an effort to emulate them.  Having sold from both venues, my own website, as well as, being a former Power Seller on eBay - I can say each one of them comes with their own sets of benefits and challenges.  Unfortunately, while this information overload of statistics can be helpful - it also bring out what the article labeled as "rampant copying of product descriptions".  The biggest problem (aside from plagiarizing of course) is that when you copy another person's unique description, Google has a hard time differentiating from content and ownership...and as a result - BOTH items are removed as "duplicate content" and in some cases banned from the search engines.  It's a lose-lose situation for all.  Do you see the importance of writing UNIQUE copy?

Has this happend to me?  You bet.  Earlier this year, after noticing drops in my own visits and numbers on Etsy, I did a few searches and found another seller had "borrowed" my description...actually verbatim, word for word.  Yes, Screenshots were taken, and the legalities were addressed in a professional manner - but in all honesty, because of the lack of knowledge on SEO...I don't even think the person realized the damage they did not only to me, by copying - but themselves too.  But for me in this situation, there was no other choice but to take time and do a total rewrite of hundreds of my product descriptions.  Very tiring, but it really brought home the importance of being diligent and dedicated to being UNIQUE in this very small world of creativity.

Time keeps ticking...
so doesn't it make sense that with the time we have...
that we strive to be, as Judy Garland said...
"A first rate version of yourself, instead of somebody else"

Have you heard that old saying?  "Good at everything, but Great at nothing"...in the creative world...it's very easy to become proficient at a variety of things - and believe me, there will be times in your life, when you WANT to learn new things just to have a little fun.  But when you decide to take your hobby to the next level and make it a business...well, there comes a time when you realize that it might be better for both you and your business - to focus on one thing.  No-one is perfect, and no-one can do everything successfully.  I for one, am content to remain a hobbyist at some things...and be a professional Artisan in others.  Now, I wouldn't trade my time and experience for anything...because those early years of learning many techniques and hobbies, helped me pinpoint what I really wanted to do, helped me expand my career opportunities over the years, and the best thing...allowed me to settle down with the things that I love and am most passionate about...and that is - designing lines of "Wearable ART Jewelry" that incorporates Artisan components (including my own Tiles and Beads).   Can I create in other mediums?  Absolutely and I do.  But because of that time factor, and the need to balance my life in both mind, body, and spirit ~ I take comfort in relying on other Artisans who have honed in on what they love best and purchase their unique components instead of doing it myself.  The beauty in being yourself and being confident in what you do, is that you do not feel threatened by others doing similar things.  And I'm happy to say...that for me, many of my closest friends do exactly what I do...but in their own unique way!  Priceless...and comforting.

So...let me share a little publishing story with you...some of you may have had the honor of being published - or maybe it is one of your hopes, wishes and goals. I have to tell you though - from my perspective with a former career in the creative industry, working alongside manufacturers, educators, the media, doing freelance writing, organizing professional juried festivals...the world of "Publishing" for me personally...is one that took on a life of it's own about a year and half ago.  Here are some of my published designs...
Bead Trends and Belle Armoire in 2011

January 2012 Designer Highlight/Bead Trends

February Bead Trends included our new Car Dangler
along with three other designs featuring our ART Tile components
from Amanda Austin and Traci Zeller

Spring Stringing Issue featured our "Quiet as the Night" Bracelet (#2)

April/May 2012 Step by Step Wire featured our ART Tiles
 and look for more designs throughout 2012 in:
Stringing, Belle Armoire and Bead Trends 

I tell you these things - not to impress you - but to impress upon you that for ME...publishing is more about SHARING my love of designing jewelry, INSPIRING others to create - not because I need the feather in my cap,but because I truly BELIEVE that by sharing...we are actually doing our part to ensure that the CREATIVE process of design is passed down to the next generation and will live on, long after we're gone.  So again...publishing is LESS about the Designers and MORE about the TECHNIQUE and PRODUCTS.   Plain and simple.  For each "Yes" to publishing, there have been a dozen "NO's" - but again for me - the value of my jewelry is based on the heart I put into...and not on whether it's published.  Do I get a little tickle belly type of feeling and do a Happy Dance with a published design?  Of course!  And as a bonus...if it's a design where I've used another Artisan's components...well it's partytime then...because BOTH of us are getting the opportunity to share our love of designs and creating.

So what are my top Three Tips for making a positive impression when submitting to a national magazine?
  • Be true to you - submit a UNIQUE, high quality design
  • Be professional in your approach and in describing your inspiration and design details
  • Be consistent in your work etiquette and meeting deadlines

OK - lastly...are you wondering about my epiphany???
Well, it has to do with this necklace...

This is just a small snippet photo...but it's a pretty cool design featuring this gorgeous one of a kind pendant from Mary Harding, which I complimented with Silk Ribbon and a variety of Vintaj findings and charms.  Would it sell, yes - no doubt!  But here's a little secret...this one made it through the electronic round of submissions but received a "No" during the physical/in-person round - for the upcoming Fall edition...my necklace just didn't "fit" in with the overall look and vision the magazine had in mind this time around.  But remember...I never look at the turn-down's as a reflection on me, my design, or in this case Mary's pendant...and actually if you think about - it's pretty sweet knowing that it came "close".  So you see...it's all in your outlook -  so if you do submit - keep things in perspective!

Personally, if I look back on all my published designs...most are ones that I created first - simply because I needed to create.  I call these designs my "wild children" because they are all unique and inspired by either the focals themselves...or the things in nature, or colors, or other random thoughts.  When I'm truly focused on creating...there is no rhyme or reason...no thoughts of designing in order to be published, or creating something simply because it's "trendy".  The designs start with a completely blank canvas filled with my own thoughts, and beads that are calling to me. 

So getting back to my necklace...I'm not sure what it was...but it was one of those designs that didn't feel quite right for me (possibly because I didn't have enough time before the submission deadline to allow it to "sit and breathe" and see if I wanted to tweek anything).  Yesterday, as I sat there objectively thinking the thought process while I was designing it, I remember at some point going against my internal feelings and simply adding more of the trendy satin ribbon.  So although it was a beautiful design with all the silk ribbon woven in the chain...today I actually wound up removing the majority of the ribbon and almost immediately felt an overwhelming sense of relief.  It was then that my "epiphany" HIT me.  

Can you guess what it is?
To ALWAYS be true to me...
go with the flow...
and listen to what my heart is saying!
Have a wonderful day! 
If you have any thoughts you'd like to add - please feel free to leave a comment - I love reading them!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

JEWEL Highlight...Cherrie Fick of EnLaLumie're

Introducing...our JEWEL of the month
Cherrie Fick from EnLaLumiere
When I first “met” Cherrie, what struck me most, is her beautiful artistry in her jewelry designs.  Through bead choices, color mixes, and textures – it’s so obvious that each design, is made from the heart and full of the kind of beauty you might feel if you were taking in a sunrise or sunset on a beautiful day near the water - calming to the soul...  It’s been such a joy for me to have Cherrie in my life as a friend, and kindred soul…because when the world is full of people racing from one place to another, always jumping on the latest “fad” – I can’t say how refreshingly honest it is to find another designer that creates from the heart while staying true to her own unique style.  It’s these very things that allow a person to look at a piece of jewelry and instinctively know who created it without ever seeing the name in print – Cherrie was blessed with that type of design style and touch.

For those of you that are not familiar with Cherrie – she began designing jewelry in 2009 by selling to her friends and at local craft fairs.  Like most starting designers, Cherrie started with simple symmetrical stringing pieces that evolved into more intricate designs that are asymmetrical and feature a variety of artisan beads and components.  She loves ceramic, art glass, mixed media, bronze, copper, Vintaj Brass, Gemstones, Czech Glass, and of course JLynnJewels ART tiles. She is a designer that allows the beads to “speak” to her as inspiration for her many Vintage style, and romantic designs.   In early 2010, she opened her Etsy Store En La Lumie’re

Her personal and professional life revolve around her family consisting of her husband, recording artist sons, their families, and currently counting at six grandchildren  – some of which live across the street from her in sunny California (and the other family lives up the coast in Oregon).  Music of course is a big part of Cherrie’s life and she designs listening to quite the eclectic mix of music - dating from 80s rock to Country and pop.  Her husband, Michael is also artistic and sells his Fine Art Photography that has an emphasis on fashion, water and nature at a variety of Art & Craft Shows in Northern California, and on Etsy at WaterSoulsStudios 

As designers, we all seem to have favorite color mixes depending of course on our moods or seasons.  Some of Cherrie's favorites are...

Pastel mixes in the Spring...
Beautiful spring mix featuring ceramic beads from Gaea

and a necklace and bracelet variation of one of Cherrie's husbands Art Prints
Pink Hydrangea ART tile from JLynnJewels and a beautiful selection of beads
Cherrie always has a way of adding tiny little details that
strike the fancy and call out for attention - like the adorable line
of Czech petal beads dangling from each side.

Aqua and Ocean like colors and themes...
Featuring Spirited Earth, Gaea, Radiant Mind (above & below)
and a variety of Czech Glass with Vintaj Brass.
I love how Cherrie's designs are asymmetrical in nature
but have a gentle flow to them.

Harvest colors when the weather cools...
Beautiful selection of Czech Beads and Boro Glass Bead from SeaShoreGlass
One of the things that Cherrie is known for is the glorious mixes of unique beads
and pairing them together.  I simply LOVE this design!
Lovely fall pair of earrings featuring Cherrie's Altered Brass Blanks

And a Merlot and Blue Mix during the cooler temperature months...
Featuring Menagerie Studio, SeaShoreGlass, Bubby & McGurk, and Gaea.
Another unique asymmetrical design - once again showing how lovely
Cherrie groups her sections together...in this case a stranded side in conjunction with chain.

Cherrie’s first published design hit the stands in March of 2011, she was featured as the Bead Trends Designer Highlight for the month of July 2011 (if you are not familiar with Bead Trends, each month a Designer is highlighted complete with Bio and a multiple page spread featuring the designer's choice of jewelry - go ahead and like them on Facebook - with parent company Northridge Publishing Company...there are a lot of other "Trends" magazines to get inspired by too).
Low Tide was one of my favorites
(featuring Amanda of SeaShorGlass boro bead and Gaea Ceramic pieces)

And her Autumn necklace was on the Bead Trends Cover in November of 2011…
her designs have also been seen in Stringing.

When I asked Cherrie about some of her creative inspiration goals – she explained that she is currently expanding on her skills with metal alteration (who she gives credit to Amanda Cargill Austin for teaching her), as well as exploring the world of Polymer Clay, while constantly being tempted to try new things. Here's just one example of her Metal alterations...

If you're in business...you know that a big part of staying in business, is of course providing a product or service that fits a need, or simply makes people happy.  The other part, has to do with marketing, networking and making connections.  Within the jewelry world, you can find a number of people like Cherrie, that truly take pleasure in others successes and when possible, collaborates with them in the creation of many jewelry designs.

Cherrie does fabulous work combining a multitude of people, sometimes within just ONE design…here are some examples of Cherrie’s collaboration designs with friends:
Amanda Cargill from Seashore Glass
One of Cherrie's first collaboration friends...
who shares quite a bit of common threads with each other
 (including places, towns, and of course jewelry)
Cherrie created a lovely focal with Amanda's Boro beads
and a fun swirl wire wrap

Gaea Cannaday of Gaea Beads
Gaea Ceramic Beads take center stage in this
fun and colorful design that Cherrie whipped up

Erin Prais Hintz of Tesori Trovati
Cherrie created this lovely necklace featuring one of Erin's focals, boro bead by
Amanda of SeaShoreglass and a Toggle ART Tile of JLynnJewels
One of my FAVORITES to date!

Martha Eason of Menagerie Studios
Another sweet design of Cherrie's featuring
Menagerie Studio's focal pendants

Raida Disbrow of Havana Beads
I absolutely love these earrings - Cherrie really made the
 glass drops from Havana's beads come to life

Shannon Levart of Miss Fickle Media and Nan Emmett of Spirited Earth
Another super collaboration project with not only a
Ceramic focal by Nan,
 and wire/finding accents by Shannon...
but also some additional ceramic beads by Gaea

Dean & Kristy Abner of BubbyMcGurkBeads
Cherrie did a beautiful job allowing Dean's amazing Heart Focal
take center stage on what I like to call a "Focal Bar" - a unique
and slightly different approach then a standard "stringing"

And of course me – Janice of JLynn Jewels with my ART and Embossed tiles…
Beauty Dog Tag ART Tiles (double sided images)
Cherrie does such spectacular things with my Tag Tiles
love how she does something unique and different each time.

Another famous ART tile of JLynnJewels featuring a Monet print
and also an Inspirational Word ART Tile too.
I'm always jealous of all the beautiful beads Cherrie has to "play" with!

Being a published designer myself, I'm always interested to learn what catches another designers eye about my tiles...so when I asked Cherrie what she likes best about them, she explained that they are always “fresh and new” in style and design, with a high quality, artistic, and professionally finished look.

Cherrie and I began collaborating together when she asked me to incorporate some of her husband's artwork into a tile form that she could use in jewelry.  I was thrilled and had a great time digiting Michael's Art Prints in miniature tile...and then seeing Cherrie utilize them in her jewelry designs.  

Words can't really describe the feeling I get seeing others like Cherrie design with my ART Tiles.  You see when I take my own Watercolor artwork and create a tile to use in one of my own Jewelry designs, it's a very personal experience and feeling...but when I do this for another Designer who is using a family member's artwork (or their own art or photography) - I have to say it's like being honored in a really regal way...and if I had to put a "feeling" to it - it's like someone is tickling your insides with a feather - you get that bubbly, airy, fun type happiness! 

There are many people that I hope to introduce you to as time goes on...but until then...go on over and visit Cherrie's links and say hello!

In closing, for me...and considering the past several years after leaving the world of a succesful wholesale business behind, in order to get back to my roots of working with my customers one-on-one...I have to say that one of the absolute best things, have been the friendships and people that I've met in person...and those like Cherrie who I've "e-met" - both of which make my life so much fuller and both of which I can't imagine my life without them in it because they are always there to lend a hand, send a virtual hug or simply offer a sweet compliment.  So, I'd like to leave you today with a quote that reminds me of my special friendship with Cherrie...
Among Life's precious jewels,
Genuine and rare,
The one that we call friendship
Has worth beyond compare

Thanks Cherrie for all your beautiful inspiration, presence and wisdom!

Monday, April 2, 2012

ART Tile News!

So very excited to announce that for the very first time and flying solo...
My ART Tiles are featured in the "new" Artisan Showcase section
of the Spring edition of Step-by-Step Wire magazine!
We are very honored to have been asked to be a part of it :)

What's different about this from my other "Published" designs (which you can see on my regular website on the PRESS page - as well as, in my FACEBOOK album)...is that, this is the very first time, that JUST my components are featured all by themselves!  It's a fun new section and not only includes my own ART tiles...but approximatley 30 other "Component Designers" too!  Editor Denise Peck did a fabulous job with inspirational pieces and putting together this spread of Artisans.  You can find my tiles on page 13 and also in the Artisan Village section on page 56 (see below for details on a coupon code).

Page 13 features a few of our ART Tiles
and...if you look for this photo...
(Page 56) - you may just find a special coupon code
 especially for Step-by-Step Wire Readers!

As background...I've been designing and involved with Fine Arts, Crafts, Sewing and a variety of other mediums since the mid-1980s where I apprenticed in an upscale handcrafted Jewelry store.  Despite a dozen moves with my family, a few career stops in the professional world of accounting, along with positions in management, marketing and education in the creative world - I've been desinging and in the jewelry business since those 80s days.  In 2004 I began selling online and was a Power Seller on eBay, along with selling my Jewelry wholesale (both of which I retired from in 2008 in order to begin selling direct to my customers).  In all that time I never really thought about sharing ideas, inspirations, colors and techniques through publishing - but I "caught" that bug in 2010 and am always so thrilled to have the opportunity to share on a much larger scale than I ever thought possible.  You can see all of my published designs either on my website or Facebook Busines page photo album.

Lots of designs, ideas, and inspirational thoughts have been shared - and here are some of them that feature JLynnJewels ART tiles which have been recently published in Bead Trends during 2011 and 2012.

A Walk in Paris/September 2011          Fly Away/October 2011 

 Golden Dreams/November 2011     My Favorite Things/December 2011

 Car Danglers/Bead Trends February 2012

Plus...we are very proud of our customers too!  Here's a couple of the most recent jewelry designs "as seen in" Bead Trends, designed by my friends and fellow jewelry designers, Amanda Austin of SeaShoreGlass (Pink Floral tile Bracelet) and Traci Zeller of GettaGifts (Wish Altered Art Tile Bracelet) both featured in Bead Trends from February 2012 of this year.
Amanda Austin                                             Traci Zeller

So often we see jewelry and various accessory designs in national magazines - but rarely do you see just the components themselves as a "feature".  Since I've been a part of both the creation of focals and jewelry design for so many years - I've always tried to design with Artisan made focals and love highlighting "Component" Designers.  I can tell you, that many an hour is spent browsing through magazines and online handcrafted marketplaces like Etsy and Artfire, looking at not only the offerings from some of my favorites, but also in search of new and talented Component designers that I can higlight as well.  One of the ways I love to promote Artisans (including my favorites and "newly discovered" is through groupings of products called a "Treasury" on Etsy and a Collections on Artfire).  It's a fun thing - and I'm always honored to be included in them myself - whether that's for jewelry or my tiles! 

This is a photo of my last Treasury (I'm currently working on a couple new ones in my down time) but this gives you an idea of what you can come up with in this wonderful online handcrafted marketplace!

And here's my latest focal "find" from Etsy...
Care to guess what they are made out of?
Well - remember looks can be deceiving...;)
These lovelies caught my eye because of the color during a Treasury Hunt...
Created by Sue W. of Dust Rhino Stampede on Etsy
Can you believe that these are faux-ceramic pendants?
Yes - they are...
and they are made out of Polymer Clay!
Oh and did I mention that they have these adorable
inspirational words on the back?  Yes they do!
Love them!

Well - let me leave you with some upcoming snippets of information - I'll be doing another marathon listing in our Etsy store towards the end of this week...where you'll be seeing (finally) some of my newest EMBOSSED ART Wood tiles which we formally announced at the beginning of March - a long time to wait for these we know - but for those that were not sold direct of of Facebook, they will be going "in" to the store.

Look for some of these ~ of if you don't see something you want...
just message and we can do a custom order for you in any color combo

Along with some 3-piece sets featuring many of our new shapes...
including Curved Bracelet focals...Teardrops, Kite (elongated Marquis shapes)
and many more!

Leaving you tonight with a BIG THANK YOU for all of you that take the time to post a comment here, Facebook...or send me a note/email and share your own creations (whether they include one of my components or just something that you created because you were inspired by me or one of my published designs)...I LOVE hearing from you because it totally makes my day!

Have a great week - and look for our next JEWELS HIGHLIGHT towards the end of this week...I promise you - you'll love HER and my highlight of her gorgeous, luscious jewelry designs!