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The Shrinkets Story 

Shrinkets  shrink plastic bead molds Julie Haymaker

Julie is a full-time artist and the founder of Shrinkets shrink plastic bead making molds.

Julie grew up in Michigan and was lucky to have parents that supported her creativity. She attended Kendal School of Design in Grand Rapids Michigan and graduated with a degree in Illustration. 

For 10 years Julie worked as a children's greeting card designer for Hallmark Cards In Kansas City.

This enabled her to become a freelance greeting card Illustrator and she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where she also created and sold contemporary woodworking folk art in galleries around the country.

Her next big change was moving to California to attend  California College of the Arts where she studied Fine Metal Smithing and Ceramics. Once again her parents' helped make this possible as they believed in the opportunities education could provide. She was and is so grateful. 

California is where she met the love of her life Mark Haymaker and they spent 12 loving and fulfilling years together before he died of rare Mucosal Melanoma at the age of 44.

After losing Mark, Julie found her footings in creating mixed media and this evolved into working with shrink plastic for jewelry.

She now lives in Tucson, Arizona. and dedicates her time to promoting the fun of using shrink plastic for making beads using the molds she has invented for this purpose. 

Julie brings a lifetime of artistic skills and experiences to the work she creates. 

She states "Making art is my saving grace.". Her varied skills have also given her the opportunity to teach thus sharing her passion. 

Many years ago Julie owned a small mixed media shop called Blissbee in Bisbee Arizona. She sold mixed media supplies in the back half of the store and handmade art in the front of the store. She also offered mixed media classes in the creative room of her shop.

 Among the products she sold was shiny clear shrink plastic. She had never used shrink plastic  but thought it would be fun to try,

One slow day in the shop she went back to her creative classroom area and was forming metal disc in her heavy steel doming block. This is a tool like a mortar and a pestle. But made of heavy steel, strong enough to hammer domed shapes in nonferrous metals. Julie was also thinking of her shrink plastic as she worked and wondered what creative things she could make. 

That night she had a dream that was so vivid it felt real. In the dream, She was using the metal steel doming block and doming pin to shape shrink plastic beads. She was also using a craft heat gun to shrink the plastic. Later learning that traditionally shrink plastic is shrunk in an oven.

The next morning she could not wait to get into her shop's creative room and give this dream a try. The first beads were wonky but very unique and she KNEW she was on to something. 

Time went by, the store closed and julie went through a very stressful period. However,  She kept teaching art and did so at mixed media events around the country. She finally had enough courage to offer her shrink plastic bead making as a class. The students were in love with this unique and new process, in spite of the fact that they had to use the heavy steel doming block and a steel pin to form the beads. 

Julie knew she needed to make molds more suitable for the lightweight shrink plastic. However, the big issue was that funds were non-existence. 

So Julie hand-made her first line of molds. Forming the prototypes in paper clay, making molds of these in modeling material, and then casting the molds in dental plaster. The molds were next sanded and drilled. She then coated each mold in a sealant to keep them from breaking down and wore a heavy ventilator and goggles while she did so. This was the hardest as the sealant vapors would seep into her eyes and nose in spite of her precautions and she would have to stop working as both would be running uncontrollably. She knew this was very bad for her body and dreamed of having the molds made for her in silicone.

Next, the molds were re-drilled and painted. Wood blocks were cut and drilled to hold the hand-cut steel glide pins. When the molds were packaged Julie hand-cut Shrinkets shrink plastic bead shapes to add to each Shrinkets mold kit. The end product was far from perfect and very tedious work. Needless to say, she worked long hard hours. BUT her lovely and supportive makers bought them and encouraged her. 

Julie launched her little adventure in earnest creating a website and dedicating everything she had to her "baby" which she called  Shrinkets because her little beads looked like shrink plastic "Trinkets". 

She signed up for every bead show she could find, taught were ever invited, sometimes one student at a time. In her first year of business, she traveled to 37 states driving her 10-year-old car from one coast to the other. Many times she traveled with her 2 small dogs. The 3 of them would often sleep in the back of the car or stay in some very strange Air B and B's.

She, sometimes felt like she was failing forward, as her travels were also problem-solving adventures. But she saved her pennies.

She, sold one mold at a time, she, taught one class at a time and she cherished everyone who bought, everyone who wanted to learn what she had to teach. She, meet wonderful people all doing what they loved. They built her up.

In 2 years Julie saved enough to make 3 molds out of silicone, exactly as she had envisioned. She also was able to manufacturer her very own line of jewelry-grade shrink plastic. Each year Julie adds new Shrinkets products to the line. Be it a new mold, new shrink plastic colors, or new precut Shrinkets bead shapes. Julie also makes Shrinkets online classes and kits and offers free tutorials to make learning easy. She runs both a website shop and an ETSY shop 

Julie was able to do this because NO was not an option. And because her tribe of creatives believed in the magic of making. It takes a village. 

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