Natural Jewelry Design Tips – #1 Use Natural Materials

Men’s Abalone Necklace – Real, natural materials 

make all the difference in creating the aesthetic of Natural Jewelry Designs.

Have you been admiring the natural jewelry look and wanted to incorporate it into your own beaded jewelry designs?

Have you stumbled into a beading rut and been looking for some fresh inspiration?

Here is the first in a series of tips on how to maximize the natural feeling of your beaded jewelry designs, just what you were looking for!  The first and one of the most important components of designing natural jewelry is to begin with natural materials.  There’s something about the processes of growth and creation and decay and weathering that imbues natural materials with a magical aesthetic all their own.  Now, I’m not a purist, I believe in the specialness of humans and human achievement (otherwise I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror every morning and keep soldiering on through life).  I also believe, on a very philosophical level, that humans are natural and therefore, everything that we do and create is “natural”.  However, I can’t ignore the vast aesthetic difference between a plastic bead and a real gemstone bead, and I don’t want to!  There is a place where these two aesthetics begin to mix and mingle and somewhere in that place I draw my hazy line of what is a natural material and what is an unnatural one.
Let’s begin with the most obviously natural jewelry components: bone, stone, gemstone, pearl, wood, shell, seeds.  These are all materials raw and direct from mother nature’s pantry, all excellent for making beads, all of them have been used for making beads for millenia!  
There are a lot of colors of all-natural, undyed materials you can use in your natural jewelry designs!

Here’s where it starts to get sticky:  You really love color but don’t want to be bound only by the natural colors of semiprecious gemstones available to you?  Well, you could choose to include dyed natural materials in your beaded jewelry designs.  Dyeing is a technique as old as the process of making beads and just as I’d wear a dyed wool sweater, so will I use dyed beads in my natural jewelry designs.  You might ask what’s the big difference between a green dyed quartz bead and a green glass bead.  Both are SiO2, Silicon Dioxide, both are round, both are green.  But only one retains the glorious natural imperfections and variable qualities of translucence that come from being formed slowly and accidentally by the universe as a part of a mountainside.  The mere fact of the romantic history of the quartz is enough to give it a higher aesthetic value than the glass.  Also, there is a very real visible difference between the two, the quartz with it’s natural imperfections and variances of translucency and sometimes uneven dye color.  Just as there is a very real aesthetic difference between a dyed freshwater pearl and a factory made glass “pearl” , the depth that translucent layers of nacre produce on a pearl is unmistakable when compared to the smooth, shallow surface of a glass “pearl”.

Dyed green mother-of-pearl and quartz have natural shimmers and imperfections
that make them so much more charming than man-made bead materials!

Another bead material that I haven’t used yet, but feel could be very valid as a component of “natural jewelry” is handmade ceramic beads.  Factory made beads would lose the aesthetic beauty of handmade ones and I’m not sure if all beads with all glazes could feel natural.  Somewhere in that hazy border between the natural aesthetic and the man-made one lie some beautiful, handmade ceramic beads just waiting to be used!  (Handmade glass beads don’t seem natural: too shiny, too much potential for color and artifice.)

Handmade ceramics have a great potential as natural jewelry components!

Everyone will define the hazy line between natural and man-made for themselves, but I hope these guidelines have been inspiring!  See you all back here on Tuesday for the next Natural Jewelry Design Tip in this series, where I’ll explain how to Use Color and Texture in a Natural Way, the secret of which I learned from an interesting natural gardening book! (Maybe you’ve noticed, I’m now blogging twice a week!) Until next time, Happy Creating! 🙂

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