Friday, July 6, 2007

Jewelry Designer Interview: Jean Yates

1. What is your personal name, business name, website and location?

My name is Jean Yates. Our business name is Prettykittydogmoonjewelry, or JeanYatesJewelry, both of which lead to the same site located online. For example:, or

Our family is located in New York.
Necklace with Polymer beads by Heather Powers of HumbleBeads

2. What kind of jewelry do you make? What types of materials do you prefer? what kinds of art beads do you use?

I make the kind of jewelry I myself like to wear! Sometimes it is fancy, like charm bracelets covered with pearls and crystals and art beads (I had two of those appear in Belle Armoire's Salon section), sometimes it is simpler, like a strung or wired necklace where the focal pendant is the point. I find earrings a fun challenge to make because I have to make a pair of something exactly the same (well, for the most part)! I am a one of a kind sort of person! I have even been known to wear one earring!

I really don't like jewelry which is just a bunch of beads strung willy-nilly on beading wire with a lack of color play, or little understanding of materials being used, and a "nothing" clasp. Because I feel strongly about this, I have had to educate myself on how to avoid it through online research and through reading magazines and jewelry books. I have taught myself many jewelry making techniques over the past few years to achieve my ongoing goal of learning all about wiring, stringing, balance, and so on. I don't worry about learning about color or anything like that. That has been always instinctive with me. Designing with art beads is my absolute passion, and I delight in creating my jewelry pieces!

As far as materials go, I like top grade materials, whether gemstones, findings, or my beloved art beads. I love art beads which have some sort of unique appeal. I seek these out online for fun, almost daily. I bookmark artisans or creators whom I like for future reference.

Necklace with Porcelain bead by Joan Miller and clasp by Green Girl Studios, photo courtesy Bead & Button Magazine

3. How did you get into jewelry design? What are some of the important things you do for your business?

I got into the jewelry design business in a funny way. I had always loved jewelry, but other than buying one seed bead peyote stitch bracelet kit online (and a matching one for my husband Jim to do) (--we dropped all the beads through the slats in our deck and gave up)! I watched home shopping TV stations and learned about actual gems and stones that way. Online, I would use Ebay to study lampwork, and Justbeads to study polymer beads, which were just appearing as a cool form of art bead. The only porcelain I knew of was Joan Miller's at this time. Everything was just beginning to blossom, when I took a PMC class locally one weekend. It was the night before my oldest son got married. I raced out of the class and right to his wedding rehearsal. That was three years ago. When he walked down the aisle with his gorgeous bride, I was ready to rock and roll. I have five sons, a grandson, and one on the way...My oldest "leaving the nest" was an unspoken call to me: "Go for it, Jean! Stop staring at jewelry, and make some yourself!" So I did.
The first three submissions I sent off were accepted by three magazines and one was put on the cover of a book. That was cool.

One of the important things I do for my business: unlike many designers, I take on commission/design work. That is a great challenge, and one I find really brings out the best in me! I really enjoy it! I love working with people and sharing ideas! Another important thing I do for my business: I try to keep my website and blog current. The blog is frequently where you will be seeing what I am thinking about, right at this very moment. You are seeing the real me, there.

4. What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?

This question always makes me laugh, because we have all these kids and pets--I have NO workspace. Frankly, when two of your children have severe autism, you are grateful you have WALLS! I just have "special places I store my important things"...tackle boxes are my preferred storage boxes. It is almost impossible to step on a properly closed tackle box and break it. I guess those professional fishermen could be closet jewelry designers, if they felt the urge.

So here is what I do, depending upon the project: I isolate everything I will need for the project, sit somewhere, either on the kitchen floor, my own bed, or even on the stairs, with a work tray, and gather my tools from my tool tackle box. I have to be able to put everything away at a moment's notice for safety reasons (say, one of our children is about to come home from school), so I also use large zip-lock bags for my projects and paper plates. My, it is beginning to sound like a picnic! Come to think of it, there is some Tupperware involved, as well.

My typical day is like today. I am very focused, and it is difficult to distract me. However, things happen. For example, this morning I got up, wrote in my blog, and began typing a submission for a magazine I figured I would send out today. I thought I would just get that done before doing the final edits on my jewelry design book, LINKS. Then I got four important emails, including this one. I also walked the dog and gave one son some medication. I spoke to one of my sons on the phone. I fed the cat.
Wow, it has just dawned on me what a boring person I am. Thanks, Melanie! Ack!

Earrings with ceramic beads by Earthenwood Studio

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?

This is easy. I MUST do what I do. I cannot articulate exactly why, but I know I need to learn and grow creatively every day. I either need to write, draw, read, sing, make jewelry, or all of the above. I am communicating with the world this way. I have an incredible wish to do that! I stay inspired by something inside myself which has been there since I was a kid and got my first box of crayons. The BIG box. How I loved that BIG box of crayons. I am not a "puzzle person", who puts together puzzles to relax, and likes to see what someone else has created and then cut up in order to get completed by me. I am a creator myself who sees beauty around me, in art beads, for example, and tries to set it off in the most wonderful, special manner she can. That is how I relax. By getting fired up! Often, art beads like yours are plenty to get me started!

6. What kinds of art beads do you look for? Is there a bead you wish an artist would make for you?

I look for beads I have never seen before. I look for beads which make me gasp with delight! They can be, at times, more precious than fine gems to me. I am a collector as well as a designer.
When you ask, "Is there a bead you wish an artist would make for you?", if you are asking me if I could have any sort of bead I wanted...I have never thought of this possibility, probably because I am so very open minded about other people's creativity. I love SO many types of beads. As long as the bead is transporting to me in some manner, it's got "Jean" written all over it!

Bracelet with pewter by Green Girl Studios and Lampwork by Kim Miles

7. What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?

I really need to make a charm bracelet. I don't know why. Just gotta. I need to make a couple of necklaces with some focals which I am looking forward to receiving. I am trying to figure out some engineering aspects of a Y necklace I have been working on. These are personal creative needs...I am playing in order to express my creativity! Then there are always some submissions, my book and the blog, all are taking up a lot of my time!

8. If you any upcoming news that you would like to give our readers, please let us know:

As for news: please don't forget my book, Links by Jean Yates, available for preorder on and also on my blog. It is outstanding and I guarantee you will find it fun and fascinating! Thank you so much!


Tari of said...

Great interview. It's nice to see how other people juggle an at home business and children.
Jean, your grandson is cute!

Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

Thank you Tari--I am so proud of him!!! He is a good dancer! And he's only two! :)


Andrew Thornton said...

Jean Yates is AWESOME!