Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beadmaker Interview-Lynn Davis

1. What is your personal name, business name, website and location?
My personal name is Lynn Davis, and my Etsy shop also uses that, I'm a native Texan living in the midwest almost ten years, at the moment in Saint Louis, Missouri. Lots of artists and hot glass creators in this town, it's all very encouraging. The blog is at - the 'z' in front comes from an accidental typo years ago on some junk mail, and suddenly getting mail for ZLLYYNN, which I thought was fun and decided to use. Currently have the art bead Etsy shop, it's the newest one at, and the finished jewelry is at I originally had both in the same location but found it was difficult to keep them together. I try to be a consistent blog writer, adding photos and new resources almost every day. I take pictures of the process and focus on studio safety, having heard too many artists say that they wish they had used more safe and healthy practices in their creative activities.

2. What kind of jewelry do you make? What types of materials do you prefer? what kinds of art beads do you use?
I like making jewelry that seems to have a hidden story, a sense of history and mystery to it. I am learning to use any materials needed for the piece, including metal, wire, fused glass, etched and beveled glass, sheet metal and polymer clay. I use different materials to make the parts, I don't try to make polymer clay look like glass and use glass instead. This has made me a student in the school of trial and error, not having a formal education in any of these. I recently got a small torch and am learning how to work with fine silver, and occasionally I use precious metal clay to make charms and components.
I think of my jewelry as faux-tiques or replicas and invented impossible objects. I use beads that come from molds I've created in polymer clay, carved or made off actual vintage items. No doorknob or faceplate is safe from my mold making materials! Travel is great by introducing new images and styles and helping the faux artifacts to have that sense of actual history. When possible I track down actual vintage pieces and purchase them, not to disassemble and re-purpose, but to act as inspiration and authentication for my creations.
I've started to collect interesting bits of metal from cans, boxes and packaging to explore using as found objects in the jewelry and making domed beads or settings with them. Some of the imagery on packaging is very visually interesting.

3. How did you get into jewelry design? What are some of the important things you do for your business?
I love wearing jewelry, especially unusual and one of a kind pieces, and when I started out it was more difficult to find the vintage and faux vintage findings and pieces to use, so I started making my own pieces to wear. I make each piece, whether bead, component or finished jewelry, as if I were going to wear it myself, so the feeling and style of the pieces reflect my taste. I don't try to follow trends or other artists' successes although it's impossible to work in a vaccuum so other artists do influence me. I read a lot of books, especially those set in other times and places, to give my mind something to work with in creating, as I believe the inventor in all of use needs a spark to get started.

4. What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?
I moved into a house here in Saint Louis and have two studios. The reason is that some work needs lots of natural light and is clean and needs to stay pristine, and some activities are messy, create fumes and shards, and need a spot away from the main living area to vent, hose down messes and keep away from food preparation and eating. Studio A is upstairs with natural light, where the assembly, photography and computer work is done. It's large and airy with a big closet for storing the bead supplies, buffer and jewelry tools. Studio B is in the basement away from the living areas, with large sink and tools dedicated to jewelry making. No food or drink comes into Studio B, because of the flux, patina chemicals, glass cutting areas and other things that shouldn't be eaten or drunk. Jewelry and beadmaking is messy, that comes as no surprise I'm sure. All the hot tools (dedicated polymer clay oven, butane torch, soldering iron, kiln) are in Studio B. There are vents and fans in the windows to remove the fumes, and a fire extinguisher that has never been needed but is always handy.
I'm very lucky to have two spaces that can have work in progress available and set up all the time, because I grab moments when I can to do little bits at a time. On the weekends I do the parts that take a long time, like setting up the glass for fusing, so I can kick off a kiln load in the evening, or get up an hour early and make some wire work before I leave for the day.

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?
I don't make the jewelry full time, so every piece is very special to me. I carry a 3x5 card spiral bound notebook with me to catch fleeting ideas, or make notes. When a new piece of glass comes out of the kiln, I carry it in my pocket and look at it for a couple of days to get a sense of what it will become. The fun thing about jewelry is you can always have a do-over, if something doesn't quite look the way it should it can be taken apart and the units made over into something new. Cut the glass and bevel, fuse again and make a new piece.
I get bead and finding catalogs and look through them to let the shapes, colors and styles inspire me. I know it's not possible for me to cast my own brass (although I've considered casting pewter) so I let the images become part of my visual vocabulary and later influence my work. When I'm creating, I try to stay open to anything that happens and not consider anything a success or failure because too many times I have gone back to a component with fresh eyes and seen a different aspect of it.
Movies can be very inspiring, especially period pieces where the jewelry and costumes are from an earlier age or a different geographical location. Science fiction shows also have interesting textures and images in the sets and costumes. Just being open to images as they present themselves.
The motivation comes from the fact that if I'm not creating, I'm incomplete in some ways. When I first moved to Saint Louis all my art supplies were packed in storage for six months and I found myself drawing with pencil and paper just to have an outlet. Creating and inventing is automatic to me, I've always done some kind of creative work. Narrowing down to jewelry was the difficult part, I also enjoy making handmade books, spinning, dyeing and knitting yarn, and fabric dye and surface design. I also do collages, and use the paper images to make my handmade shipping boxes.

6. What kinds of art beads do you look for? Is there a bead you wish an artist would make for you?
I love glass lampwork beads, and because of my own torch fears I have not gone toward making glass lampwork beads. There are vintage cast glass beads, very time consuming and highly detailed, that I wish were being made today but they would be difficult to replicate today. Cast pewter beads amaze me, especially those with high levels of detail or words and phrases cast into them. Artists are doing amazing things with polymer clay, lots of color and very contemporary images and textures.

7. What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?
I like to develop new techniques and do the testing and research/development to get the materials to respond to my needs, at the moment I'm working with glass and enamels, to find ways to fuse them together to get the vintage glass looks I want. I'm experimenting with using my bevel grinder to turn the fused glass pieces into gem-like faceted glass, both clear and colored glass. I'm testing ways to combine my printmaking and fabric surface design techniques for mark-making into polymer clay and glass to create unique focal components. The article in the Spring 2008 Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine was on using molds with polymer clay to make distinctive pieces and how to antique and patina them. In the Summer 2008 Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine the next article is on image transfers and using translucent polymer clay to create highly glossy finished items that look like enameled copper.
I'm excited about getting the etching solution to use on copper and creating some metal designs with vintage images and lettering on them. I have this idea about making faux scientific instruments like astrolabes and compasses with moving parts and metal connections, that look like artifacts or machine age implements.

8. If you have a discount code you would like to give our readers, please list it here, including the expiration date:
ARTBEAD-4-16-2008 for free shipping and 10% off purchases in either Etsy site for beads or finished jewelry - Expires 5-1-2008


Lorelei said...

Great Interview!! I just recently met Lynn and have a few of her pieces already! Lynn is Extremely talented and has a wonderfully creative mind!

Heather Powers said...

Great interview! I love lynn's work. I have a few of her pieces too!

Cyndi L said...

I love pieces with a story! Great work by Lynn :-)

LLYYNN said...

Thanks so much for the interview, Heather, it helps to know there are others who are as crazy about beads as I am, the support and feedback has been so encouraging. Means a lot to me, I work on my own and it's so great to meet others, took me a long time to take the step to put my things out for others to see them.

Appreciate you very much!
LLYYNN - Lynn Davis

JollyGems said...

Great Work Nice Post.