Jean is the most enthusiast person I know in the Blythe community and her enthusiasm is so contagious that I do think she can make anyone love Blythe! 😉
We never met in person but, even online, I feel that she is a ray of sunshine for us all and the light of their life for her family. As an organizer of the For the Love of Blythe project, she keeps Cindy and me relaxed and focused on the positive sides when we face worries or problems. Her input is crucial and always driven by kindness and generosity. Jean is also a wonderful jewelry designer and her talent is visible in every bead and charm she selects for her OOAK designs. She knows exactly how to surprise and enchant us. This is an art and she masters it intensely.
Hi, Jean! Can you introduce yourself ?
Hi Fanny! My name is Jean Yates. My main job at the moment is caring for my family. I have five sons in total, although two are grown and married. Two of my sons here at home with us have severe autism and epilepsy. Our other son here is a computer wiz. My husband Jim and I work as a team to make sure that our youngest sons are always safe and well looked after in every way. We cherish all of our children, and in return we get amazing rewards. We also have a large standard poodle named Ghalleon, or “Ghalli” for short. Hot tip: Never let a ten year old name your pet after a character in a vintage Nintendo game if you want to be able to remember how spell it correctly!
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Ghalli.
We live in a very small “historical” town in the USA called Pound Ridge, New York. I always laugh when something is bragged about as historical in the USA, because everything in Europe and elsewhere is so very much older. Our town boasts a very odd combination of: commuters (Pound Ridge is 45 minutes from NYC), a hardy bunch of local people who have families who started the town back in the days of the Revolutionary War, and the occasional movie star, who doesn’t want anyone to “openly notice” or even speak one word to him or her. But the movie star people are so obvious!!! Jim sees them all at the local post office. Then he comes home and tells me whom he saw that day, for fun. Good times, good times. 🙂
My main hobby is research. I am in love with researching anything and everything. I use this hobby constantly for my at-home writing job. I have my own column, “Our Beading World”, in a beautiful and popular beading magazine called Australian BeadingMagazine. I also review books on Amazon. com. I am an Amazon.com “Vine Reviewer” and get to choose free things to review based on some of my interests. That’s cool. I like “free”! My other hobby is photography, at which I am perfectly awful. It is cringe-worthy to see some of my photos. It has been really eye-opening to me to be a member of the Flickr community. I can so clearly see what people can do with their photos. These photos can be so incredibly moving. I am often in awe of what I see on Flickr.
Photos: jny_jeanpretty. Australian Beading magazine – The “Lovely” bracelet by Jean Yates (left). The “Pink” bracelet by Jean Yates – Pink cubic ziconia briolettes with vermeil hexagonal beads and granulated beads, and two art beads made of Polymer Clay (right).
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Under Reef necklace by Jean Yates (Shibuichi mermaid, heishi pearls, art glass beads by Kim Miles with silver cores, silver shell clasp and crystals).
Photos: jny_jeanpretty. Halloween bracelet by Jean Yates – Large clear Swarovski crystal, small ruby red Swarivski bicone, porcelain, pewter, and sterling (left). Steampunk necklace by Jean Yates (right).
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Passion’s Poem necklace – Design by Jean Yates, bead by Lisa Kan. dragonfly by Green Girl Studios
How and when did you discover Blythe?
In 2008, I was passing the time. I was looking around online, just for fun, on Amazon.com. Everyone in our house was sleeping except me, so it was very peaceful. I was checking out things like makeup, books, and ultimately, toys. I have 3 grandchildren (all boys) so I suppose I was looking at toys for them! Then I saw her: Natasha Moore. I said to myself, “What is this? I don’t understand! Why are they showing a drawing of four different eye colors? I will order this doll and HOPE I get the one with the purple eyes!” So I got my first Blythe from Amazon of all places, and when I got her I called her Sherry Darling after a Bruce Springsteen song, because her hair is Sherry colored. And I fell in love. With ALL her eyes!
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Sherri Darling – Natasha Moore. Jean’s first Blythe and first Blythe photo!
When and why did you start your collection?
So that was in 2008. It seems that I was ready for a change in “passions”. I had just written a jewelry design book, Links, by Jean Yates.
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Links by Jean Yates.
I was getting tired of submitting projects to magazines and books. Suddenly, I immediately stopped looking at art glass beads on Ebay, and switched over to looking at Blythes! My very next Blythe was a custom Blythe I “just had to have” as a sister for Sherry Darling. My husband Jim was very confused and began explaining it to himself as me being “doll deprived as a child”. My latest girl came from Thailand, and I named her “Purple Haaze” after the Jimi Hendrix song, Purple Haze. Phew! It was a good thing Sherry had a sister and wasn’t lonely. It was time to buy them some clothes! You know how the rest of this goes. Soon I had over thirty dolls. Poor, “doll deprived” jean!
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Purple Haaze – Earrings by Jean Yates for Au Beading magazine.
Some of my Blythes are customized (I am fortunate enough to have a whole family customized by Zaloa 27) and some I bought right off of TIB (when I discovered it). I bought Gina Garan’s books, too. Later, BK was founded and I raced to read all the posts and have bought quite a few dolls there!
As with many people who adore Blythe dolls, I started and I just could not stop. Due to Blythe, I have made some very dear friends on Flickr. I adore this amazing community of Blythe lovers. I was a member of Flickr before I discovered Blythe, but it was for jewelry purposes. I only had a few photos up until Blythe came into my life. Nothing has captured my heart the way Blythe has!!! Now I have almost 2,000 really lousy photos posted.
Who are the dolls you have in your own collection now and where do you store them?
Oh dear! I have 4 petites and then this massive collection which entrances me. I discovered I couldn’t store them out and about in our bedroom, which was where they were, at first, because as my collection grew, Jim was buying rectangular wicker lined baskets for them. They were all sleeping next to me. Then the stores ran out of rectangular wicker baskets. Jim was forced to begin buying round orange barrel-like containers and they were STILL all sleeping next to me in all these containers! I loved having them all in view but it was getting kind of weird. Finally I gave up and stored them in soft lined fabric grocery bags, each carefully wrapped in about a half a roll of paper towels. They are all in a closet. This makes me miserable, so I have Moon Rouge‘s wonderful “Regina”, a customized FaPa, displayed in our bedroom, wearing her “cool girl” T shirt and some soft cotton pink tights . She is a such an uplifting consolation–just seeing her here near me every day lights up my morning!
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Regina wearing the FTLOB tee.
What kind of Blythes do you prefer?
Well, when I started it was the time of the SBLs. I was delighted with Sherry Darling, my SBL Natasha Moore. I was unaware of the other sorts of Blythes for quite a while, since I was mixing up my collecting with customs and stock Blythes. I loved my first collection of Prima Dollies (I have Peony, Amaryllis, and my great prize, Marigold) but still didn’t understand about molds. For a person who adores research I was not terribly on the ball about that aspect of Blythes. It wasn’t until FBLs came on the scene that I fell in love with a mold, and it was the FBL mold. Now I also love EBLs because I see what customizers can do with that incredibly stunning mold.
I have never seen a Kenner in real life because I am home with the kids most of the time. The photos I see of Kenners can be wrenchingly beautiful. I also love Mondie and Dottie Dot. Not gonna happen, however! 🙂
As you are a jewelry designer for humans, do you have any plan to start a jewelry business for Blythe too or do you prefer to keep it as a hobby?
I sometimes fantasize about starting a little business making jewelry for Blythe dolls. However, I already have a great creative outlet that way in my beading column in Australian BeadingMagazine. Often, I make jewelry for Blythes for my column! My editor uses my photos if we have enough space in the magazine. She loves Blythes too! Once I sent her a photo of a customized Esthy et Lula doll of mine, Shirley, wearing some of my jewelry. She was all decked out in a dress by jiajia doll and a leather cabbie hat, and had on a little Swarovski crystal flower bracelet which I had made. When I emailed my editor, “Do you like her?” , she wrote back, “Like her??? I want to BE her!” That sort of reply gives me a lot of fun. And it is true, for me anyway, when I am setting up a photoshoot for my dolls, I am actually picturing myself. I am not the doll I am photographing–I know this, consciously. It is just that subconsciously, I AM the doll I am photographing. So I get to be well dressed, bedecked with fun jewelry, and…just flat out beautiful, just for a while. It is me I am taking a picture of!
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Cindy’s doll featured in Australian Beading magazine – February 2009.
Photo: Moon Rouge. Nars and Morgiana – Cherry Berry and Very Cherry Berry – Jewelry by Jean Yates.
What do you like in the concept of “For the Love of Blythe”? What is your personal goal/challenge in that project?
I cannot express all the things I love about Blythe all by myself. I have started groups on Flickr, I have posted photos on my blog, Snap out of it, Jea!There’s beading to be done! every Sunday when I do a link round up with some other well known jewelry designers from the USA, of Blythes, and I have interviewed people who cross over from jewelry making to making outfits for Blythes, like Godesia. I wrote about Cindy Sowers when we made the Nerfertiti collaborative doll. She did the costume and I did the jewelry.
In essence, I want everyone to love Blythe, and here I am writing a blog on jewelry! Therefore, when Cindy approached me concerning this massive project and book we are doing, I flipped out and realized that this was what I wanted, in every way, to be doing. Now! To realize Cindy’s idea, with your marvelous help, to gather together so many of the wonderful people who have shown me the extraordinary beauty that is Blythe, to create some fabulous Blythe dolls, to auction them off to charity after photographing them and chronicling their travels between the team members of all of their teams, to get a fantastic selection of group photos of all of the finished dolls together by the amazing Princess Di-O-Rama, to show them all off in the illustrious gallery owned by CWC (deep breath in and deep breath out, jean!) and to display them at BlytheCon 2013 in New York City before their auction…This was what I wanted to do! Wow! I just burst with excitement when I think about it.
You know, I work alone, I think alone, I spend much of my time restricted to my house due to my family circumstances and I don’t mind…but this is a community effort with a very rewarding charitable aspect. We fifty people who are participating are not going to make any money off of this. We are holding hands across the globe for one reason only. The love we all have for Blythe. It makes me breathless when I think about it. There is a movie quote from a movie called “Little Miss Sunshine”. I really relate to this quote. “Do what you love”. It is very simple. Do that, and practice the Golden rule, and you will be a very fulfilled person, the way I see it.
What do you like the most in collecting Blythe?
Thinking I am done collecting and then discovering I am not. I am eyeing those Middies now! EEEEK! They are so cute!
The other thing I like is emailing other people who love Blythe dolls. It is so fun! It is impossible to explain the connection between two Blythe lovers emailing each other about their passion. You laugh, you learn, you even cry with them, because the harsh realities of life do enter this little world. It is a part of the closeness you grow to treasure, when you have friends you get to know due to your mutual love of Blythe.
A last word?
Fanny, thank you for these thought provoking questions. I am always so delighted to read your newsletter when you email it to me and all of your other fans. I would like to say that I hope everyone likes our new blog, too, For the Love of Blythe, and enjoys our Etsy store, called, not surprisingly, For the Love of Blythe (the revenue from which we hope to use as a way to defray some shipping costs for the dolls). Everyone, please also check out the Facebook page we are working on and join it. Our project is for everyone, for all of us who love Blythe dolls and have a history of loving Blythe dolls, for those of us who have just discovered how amazing she is now, and even for those of us who don’t know Blythe yet, but will, and will love her just as much as we do, in the future!
Photo: jny_jeanpretty. Cyndi Lauper by Blythe. “Girls just wanna have fun”!
A thousand thanks to you, Jean, for this wonderful interview. It is areal pleasure to work with you on the For the Love of Blythe book project. Jean has already been interviewed lately on Blog for Beaders and she well deserves to be on the spotlight again here!