Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Carmen Miranda Hand-Cut Metallic
Leather Fruit Necklace
A popular attraction located in San Antonio, Texas is the shopping and dining district known as the San Antonio Riverwalk. 

This complex network of walkways that sets along the banks of San Antonio River offers an assortment of sight-seeing activities including the Arneson River Theatre and the Rivercenter Mall.  Texas is also home to featured jewelry designer Erin Mason Flynn.

I warm to the idea of making jewelry fun.  I mean after all jewelry is essentially toys for grown women; albeit a glossy, bling-y indulgence.  Who says that actual toys cannot serve as the centerpiece of a cuff bracelet or pendant necklace?  Well, Flynn is by no means a naysayer.

I really like the happy eccentricity of Flynn’s toy-inspired jewelry brand Chinny Flynny.  It is something completely unexpected and though her design approach is reminiscent of American designer Tarina Tarantino (of whom Flynn is a fan), Ebru Danyal (Turkey) and to some degree Leeora Catalan of nOir Jewelry (USA), Flynn makes this whimsical style of  jewelry very much her own.

The former art teacher blends her love of that profession along with her love of 70s and 80s pop culture to form jewelry that embraces childhood in all its glory.  “I loved being an art teacher for 15 years working with K-8 students!  It is my first love,” she says.  “Each year I tried to come up with ways to expand my curriculum to include fine arts, as well as crafts such as sewing, embroidery and jewelry making.

Being on a shoestring budget, I had to be very creative to find materials for my students.  I devised lessons to include found objects and my jewelry started to evolve from the gathering of these objects,” she recalls.  “I started making jewelry for fun in 2008 and in 2010 I was laid off from teaching and decided to pursue art and jewelry full-time.  I am not rich but I am very happy.” 

At the center of Flynn’s exuberant jewelry creations are iconic vintage toys including Barbie doll heads from the 60s and 80s, Legos, Matchbox Cars and Kimono Kitty.  Her robust, piled on style is influenced by the costume jewelry of her idol, fashion maven Betsey Johnson.

“I have always loved fashion and I wanted to be a fashion designer. Actually I wanted to BE Betsey Johnson.  In fact, I saved all of my Betsey clothes since the early 80s.  I didn’t get into a school for fashion which is probably good because I later took a pattern making class and I was a total mess,” she confesses.

Pinup Tatto Girl on Red Glitter Diamond
Leather Cuff Bracelet
“I have been collecting vintage toys for many years.  Barbie has been iconic for me since I was a toddler.  As an adult I bought back my childhood in vintage toys.  Everything from Barbie to Cher to Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman, Planet of the Apes and ultimately Princess Leia. 

My toy collection filled my entire attic with approximately 1,000 plus pieces.  My creative process is all over the place.  Sometimes I just go through my stash and play around until something clicks.  I have files of ideas that I refer to constantly.

Fashion that has a sense of humor is appealing to me.  I like something that is fun, colorful and gives you a feeling of nostalgia.  I think my pieces do that for people of my generation.  For me, the 70s and 80s were the best decades . . . the toys, fashion, music, everything!”

Chinny Flynny Jewelry is making quite a bit of a splash too.   Reality t.v. stars “like Josie Stevens (VH-1 “Married to Rock”), Kristen Kelly (“The Bad Girls Club”), and British singer and YouTube sensation Jemma Pixie Hixon” have each worn items form Flynn’s assortment of Lego Heart Pendant Necklaces and hand-drawn Pinup Tattoo Girl Cuff Bracelets.

That is not all; in 2011 Flynn collaborated with Irish fashion designer Julie O’Connell for Cork Fashion Week.  “She told me about her colors, inspiration, etc. and I designed pieces with that in mind.”

Flynn’s jewelry encapsulates those years of innocence and discovery and I believe these qualities drive her collections’ appeal.

Like Tarantino and Danyal, seeing Flynn’s jewelry evokes those childhood memories; the hours spent dressing a Barbie doll or the anticipation felt unwrapping that Barbie Dream House. 

Where pop culture is concerned, I think the 70s and 80s hold special memories for many people and this is what makes Flynn’s designer jewelry collections special.  You literally keep a piece of your youth close to your heart.
Gangsta Lego Blue Heart Pendant Necklace

“I am a pretty fun-loving girl. I have a good sense of humor about myself and pretty much everything.

Even my brand name is based on a private joke nickname given to me by my husband. It sounds cute and catchy.

Having a name that was whimsical was essential with the type of pieces I make… I think it sounds like a nursery rhyme character!”
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