How To Make Native American Jewelry – Guest Blog by Jessica Kane

How To Make Native American Jewelry

Are you curious about how to make Native American jewelry? There are many different ways to go about this. Much Native American jewelry is made with natural materials, and these are many. There are semi-precious gems, bones, shells, feathers, and other materials that may interest you. You can also get into beading, using metals, and other types of materials to make Native American jewelry. Read on to find out more about how to do this, and be sure to take notes.

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Find a Model
The first thing you’ll want to do is find a model of a piece of Native American jewelry. You can study it to find out more about what you want to end up making. You can even make up a template or come up with a personal drawing to make sure that you have a plan for making your Native American jewelry. If you need a place to look for jewelry, try a local pawn shop or antique market, or look at items for sale online that look like what you might want to make.

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Gather Materials

Then, you’ll want to get all your items together. You can cull from a wide assortment of beads, metals, feathers, stones, glass pieces, and other things to make your Native American jewelry. To bind together the jewelry, Native Americans traditionally and historically used leather and plant fibers. Some places to look for these items include antique markets, flea markets, online at websites that may offer specials, and in variety stores and places that sell an assortment of crafts. Be sure that you choose varied pieces to ensure that your jewelry item is colorful and original.

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Find a Gem
Then, you’ll want to find a semi-precious gem. Be sure that you go somewhere where you can find one of high quality. You don’t necessarily need more than one of these, but you can be sure to find the top quality items that you need at a local antique market or jeweler. Look for turquoise or coral, or find a semi-precious stone that is a birthstone for you or for someone you love. You’re sure to love the way it looks in your jewelry.

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Class Time
Then, you’ll want to think about enrolling in a class or workshop that teaches you how to do Native American beadwork or silver work. Remember that sterling silver can be difficult to work with, and that most Native American jewelry is made by beading and using silver underneath it. If you think you can make sense of a class in your area and have time, then you’ll want to sign up and learn as much as you can about how to make your jewelry.

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Read Up
You’ll also want to explore the various ways there are to make different types of jewelry. You can find a book about Native American jewelry in the library or at a bookstore. You can then figure out if you are more interested in making bolo ties, which are often made of braided leather, or a concho belt, which is made of metal and embedded stone. These items are not really jewelry, but they serve as examples of good products that you can come up with.

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Create

Next, you’ll want to create your jewelry. You can use symbols, or you can research designs used by a specific tribe. If you have carefully studied the items of jewelry that you wish to emulate, then it will be easier for you to make your piece of jewelry. Be sure that you follow along with a book or picture to make it easier for you, and be sure that you are not going to try to sell your jewelry, only wear it with pride and love. If you do plan to create the jewelry to sell it, it is against the law under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 that you advertise it as authentic Native American jewelry. Those non-Native Americans who sell jewelry advertising as authentic Native American jewelry can face heavy fines and a possibly go to prison.

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Peyote Stitch

If you’re interested in making a peyote stitch bracelet, it’s easy. First, draw a graph of a diamond-shaped pattern on a piece of paper. Make each square on graph paper a seed bead, which you should have by now. Then, begin stringing your thread with seed beads, and use an even number of beads. Then, place one bead on the end of the string, and pass your needle through the second to last bead. Then, skip one bead on both ends, and try again. Pretty soon, you’ll have a diamond-shaped bracelet, in peyote stitch. Here is a tutorial that can help you get started. Good luck!

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Jessica Kane is a professional writer who has an interest in arts and crafts, DIY, and other handmade products. She currently writes for Indian Traders, a leading vendor of Pendleton Blankets and Jewellery.

 PS: We have created our own inspired fringed necklace using the even Peyote stitch technique. You can find it HERE and also get the material bundle to re-create it.