SparkleSwap is pleased to introduce our featured ‘Artist of the Month’ for February, 2020: Julie Haymaker.

Julie grew up in Michigan and now lives in Tucson, Arizona.  She graduated with a degree in Illustration from Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids Michigan.  From there, she went to work for 10 years at  Hallmark Cards as a Greeting Card designer.  She left Kansas City for the southwest and continued to freelance  as a greeting card artist for another 17 years as well a s doing painted wood folk art for galleries all over the country.  She took a break for several years when life hit her with monumental personal changes and she then moved into to teaching and creating mixed media art.  She also experienced a small  stint as an owner of a mixed media gallery – this was a bucket list wish for her.  It was at this time that she discovered Shrink plastic and went on to  develop molds so the plastic could be formed into beads. This opened her up to the jewelry designing world and working with shrink plastic suited her well, as she could use colored pencils and drawing techniques honed from her years as an illustrator to create unique beads that she uses in what she calls her mixed media style jewelry.

I had the pleasure of meeting Julie in Tucson earlier this month and taking one of her classes at the Jewelry Craft and Design Expo.  Julie is not only an absolutely delightful human being; she is a talented and patient teacher and a creative inventor.  The necklace I made in class is a beautiful showpiece, and really, a whole new world opened up to me that day in her class.  With her Shrinkets, your creativity is limited only by your imagination.  As I am writing this article, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my color pencils, so that I can continue playing and creating in this brilliant medium and I can’t wait to incorporate Shrinkets into my jewelry creations.

Thank you Julie, for sharing yourself and your beautiful jewelry with us!

SparkleSwap: Please describe your artistic style and medium?

Julie:  I describe my style as Industrial whimsy style in the use of mixed media.

SparkleSwap: How did you get started in your craft?

Julie:  I  have a degree in illustration and love to paint and draw and I returned to college in my 30’s as I also love fine crafts and working with my hands, so I studied ceramics and metalsmithing at California College of Arts and Crafts.

SparkleSwap: From where do you draw your inspiration?

Julie:  Nature and architecture

SparkleSwap: What is your favorite tool right now?

Julie:  My Shrinkets Shrink plastic bead making molds

SparkleSwap: What is your favorite place to shop for supplies and why?

Julie:  Art supplies stores and bead trade shows. I love discovering new mediums and looking for something I have never seen or tried.  Home improvement stores and wood craft parts stores.

SparkleSwap: What trends are you excited about these days?

Julie:  Using nature in my works. Recently I did a major pruning and trimming of my yard, I used the twigs I clipped to add to my art work.

SparkleSwap: What is one of your biggest challenges as an artist and how do you overcome this?

Julie:  Trying not to get bogged down by the overwhelming talent of artist work I see on the internet.  Then thinking I am not good enough or there is too much “stuff “ out there.

SparkleSwap: Do you have any tips or recommendations for new and aspiring artists?

Julie:  Do not listen to the world that says you cannot survive as an artist if you have the deep need to create.   You will NOT survive if you do NOT live a creative life.  So, go forth with determination. The world more then ever needs artists who see and bring beauty to our lives.  What we do is IMPORTANT.

SparkleSwap: What are you working on these days?

Julie: Small sculptures in mixed media – wood, paper clay forms with dry brush painting and shrink plastic elements added along with wire wrapped embellishments.

SparkleSwap:  One of the things I’ve learned from you and appreciate about you is your use of unconventional elements in your creations; that you go beyond beads, metals and gemstones in your jewelry.  Now, whenever I step into the hardware store, dollar store, swap meet, fabric store, yard sale… I see endless possibilities for incorporating non-traditional jewelry-making components into my work.

SparkleSwap: How can we contact you if we are interested in purchasing your products or would like additional information?

Julie: I have a web site and online store.  Also check out this video of my art work on vimeo.

SparkleSwap:  Definitely check out Julie’s website.  In addition to her Shrinkets products for sale, she has tons of free tutorials and additional photos of her beautiful work.  Also, you can find Julie at one of these upcoming shows, where she will be teaching and showcasing her Shrinkets products:


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