Jean Yates – The Dame of Dolls and Decadent Jewelry

Jean Yates is one of our amazing design partners, and always delivers us incredible pieces. Her charisma and upbeat personality flow through into her designs, bringing to life rich color combinations and twists on classic beauty. This is not a customer success story. It’s a Design Partner story. It’s an explanation into why we work with some of the most talented designers out there. In an interview she did with me, Jean explained where her inspiration comes from, how she became interested in designing and the various routes in which she expresses her creativity. Even in writing it is easy to spot her charismatic spirit between every keyboard stroke and blinking cursor.

So what first got you interested in jewelry making?

I have five sons. Three with my husband Jim! My two eldest boys are grown and have families of their own. My family with Jim consists of our twenty year old and our two youngest boys, who have severe autism and epilepsy. I have been occupied raising my children and participating in the Special Education arena of our school district for years. As a side interest, when the kids were young, I began watching the jewelry home shopping shows on cable TV. I am nothing if not a classy dame! I actually learned a LOT from the cable shows, specifically about types of gems, exotic gemstones, and what they measured on the Mohs scale of hardness. It was a good education on design, color and placement, while I stayed at home and cared for my children. Then I joined the Yahoo group run by fantastic teacher Tammy Powley online. I was fascinated by the diverse methods of jewelry making she was teaching, and also interested in the group’s forum conversations. I began participating online and at the same time learning how to make chain maille. When I learned how to wire wrap I was off to the races!

What happened the first time you tried to make something?

When I first tried to make something I would occasionally misstep. In chain maille, you really want it to be perfect. You don’t really have a choice. It is just a pile of bent-up jump rings if you don’t. Therefore, while learning the basics of that particular jewelry art, I would have to repeat my steps over and over until I got something right. We are talking things that other people learn in a flash! On the other hand, I had a good eye for color and a great desire to make my pieces unique, so I would persevere and get that base bracelet or necklace right, and then add absolutely knockout focals and dangling charms and all sorts of fanciful things to my creations. That was my reward for all the hard work I had put in to begin with!

I found this to be great fun as I stayed at home, looking for beautiful beads and components (at places like Artbeads!), and taking care of our kids. I started submitting to countless beading magazines. I even ended up writing my own jewelry design book, Links, by Jean Yates. There are so many beads from your store in my book, and for good reason. You offer some of the most unique and lovely beads I have ever seen.

Is there anything in particular that inspires your creations?

Music always inspires me! I love classic rock and roll and R&B. I also love my son’s band, The Ruse. It’s right up there with my favorites. My next submission to a magazine (Jan. 2012) is inspired by music.

Additionally, really beautiful focal beads inspire me…it is as if, at times, I can get inside the bead’s artist and see his or her intentions when the bead was created. I have been told by a few bead artists that I made the designer piece they have always hoped would be made with their beads. This makes me so proud I can hardly express it!

Other inspirations are words (really long weird words–don’t ask why), colors (I love to dive into color, especially its subtle tonal permutations), crystals, and pearls! I just go my own way when I make jewelry. I am incredibly curious and love to research any and everything. I am, to be honest, a complete nerd.

Photo by Rose Mottl

I love your Blythe doll fashion. When did you first start incorporating them into your designs and why?

Thank you so much for liking my Blythes! I write a regular column, “Our Beading World,” for a super glossy beading magazine located in Australia. It is Australia’s number one favorite jewelry design magazine. It’s called, not surprisingly, Australian Beading magazine. My editor and I have grown to be dear friends. We exchange photos as well as chatty emails. Of course I have sent her photos of my Blythes. It was her idea to use them in my column, wearing jewelry. I LOVE doing this, and it gives me one other way to display my dolls, practice my photography, and design fun jewelry! The pieces I made with your components will be showcased in the December issue (That is Australian Beading‘s biggest issue of the year) on a different Blythe of mine, in a special story about friendship. My editor said when she read the story it made her cry. I dedicated it to her.

I wish to add that I have made lots of earrings for Blythes which ended up being worn by people–they often convert easily to the same size which people like wearing. Also, I have made period jewelry for my dolls. Once I made a whole Egyptian set which came out really well. Another Blythe lover made the costume for my doll, [then] I took the photos, and presto: we had “Nefertiti”!

Jean, along with all of our design partners, has that special eye for style and sparks inspiration in all of us to explore new routes in jewelry making. Every idea she comes up with is a true reflection of her, in one way or another. We’re happy to support Jean in her creations, and glad to have her on the Artbeads team. You can check out her blog to view more cool looks and fun stories at Snap out of it, Jean! There’s beading to be done!

All photos were courtesy of Jean Yates.


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  1. Reply

    It’s lovely to see Jean profiled here! She is truly a rock star in my book, and is one of the most generous and loyal friends you could ever have.

  2. Reply

    Great article & love the Blythe information and photo!

    • pam olmstead
    • December 16, 2011

    I absolutely adore that ring at the top of this page…the other jewelry designs of hers have caught my eye, too! Simply lovely:) Can you tell me how I can see more of her jewelry and go about purchasing it? Thank you, Pam

    • Marissa
    • December 16, 2011

    Hi Pam!

    Here’s a link to Jean’s blog where you can contact her :

  3. Pingback: Interview #2: Jean Yates | For the Love of Blythe

    • Vivian
    • February 4, 2012

    How can I find out where to buy gold cube beads like the ones shown in the pink coil bracelet above.

    Are they Delicas?


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