My first memory of discovering leather and bead necklaces is when I was at a pretty bohemian gathering of folk music aficionados, at the annual Kate Wolf festival in Laytonville, California. The beads in the artist's booth were plain beige wood beads -- but to me they seemed exotic, and the way the leather cord adjusted with a simple slide fascinated me! All you had to do was slide the knots toward each other to loosen it, away from each other to open it. I loved the necklace I got and wore it til it fell apart. It looked great with my orange tie-dyed shirt and blue jeans.
Tying a sliding knot is a little tricky, but is a great technique to have in your arsenal, especially if you are interested in using leather or satin cording. And if you don't use cording already, you might want to consider it. It adds a different texture to jewelry patterns and is quite inexpensive. And now you can get a whole host of cord colors, and you can incorporate both leather cord and wire, pearls, gemstone beads, polymer clay -- the possibilities are endless.
Just to give you a little inspiration, I'm featuring some of my favorite artistans who work with leather. These folks are all from Etsy, for you Etsians out there. But you can find them out there everywhere -- though few are as talented as these!
The incredible necklace shown at the upper right is offered by Brock of FirstAgeSilver. It is an adjustable choker (made with two barrel knot sliders) designed for a man. This piece features some really awesome tribal relics. The center bead is a large 1 inch wide (2.5 cm) alabaster stone carved in antiquity. On either side of the old alabaster bead are etched clay Precolumbian spindle whorls with the most fantastic designs! Then there are a couple of whorls with patterns -- really wonderful. And it's all combined with some dark brown clay beads and some fossil crinoids, a prehistoric water plant. Such features are typical of Brock's work, as she seeks to create modern-day talismans incorporating themes from myth, ancient cultures and sacred stones.
To the left is a gorgeous leather bracelet (which could also be used as an armband or anklet) by Kim of eyevibe. It was inspired by the majestic Atlantic Ocean in the Florida Keys. The design incorporates a slab of Blue Lace Agate paired with Turquoise, Chalcedony a large Freshwater Pearl, and a 200 year old Dutch Donut Indian Trading Bead. It is strung on durable Nylon and Sterling Silver and connects to Adjustable Leather Lace that closes with a simple knot. Kim's interests are always evolving, inspired by the gemstones she is vibrationally attracted to. As we've frequently discussed in this blog, crystals, gems and stones have a long documented history of use in healing work in almost every culture and religious tradition. Spirit masters speak of vibrational frequencies that penetrate the auric field, the personal vibrational currents, the meridians, and the chakras. Kim is also informed by the landscape of Northern Michigan and Norway, the art and architecture in Italy, tribal customs, and spiritual passions from around the world.
Our last featured artisan is Rebecca of PerfektPuka, on Etsy and based in Maui, Hawaii. To the right is her Polu Pearl bracelet, unique and classic -- with a touch of ruggedness on natural-color leather and a piece of gorgeous Spotted Drupe shell. The puka shell she used as the clasp is pure white, smooth, and perfect, exactly as she found it on the beach after it had rolled around in the ocean for so many years. This bracelet is part of Rebecca's Hi'pu'u Collection - it is said that hi'pu'u means "knot tied" in Hawaiian nautical terms. I love Rebecca's philosophy that knots help secure the journey, so one wears a piece like this through the ebb and flow of life.
If you think you've 'got the bug' now for leather jewelry but don't know quite where to start, you'll be happy to know there are MANY good tutorials out there to get you started. You can do a google search, peruse Pinterest, or browse through your favorite beading publications to find them. And just to provide you with a few examples, see the links listed below.
From art bead scene - http://artbeadscene.blogspot.com/2012/02/free-tutorial-sliding-knot-adjustable.html
from Artbeads.com - www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LzhG67nK5c
From Beading Gem - www.beadinggem.com/2009/07/how-to-make-leather-jewelry-tutorials.html
From BeadingDaily - www.beadingdaily.com/blog/beading-daily/learn-how-to-tie-a-sliding-knot
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Shiny Objects.
Until Next Time,