DIY Beading From Nature’s Gifts

by Emmy Hirsch, guest blogger

painted wooden beads
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more wooden beads on etsy


Utilize your artistic abilities and learn how to appreciate, embrace, and create by using Mother Nature’s splendors. Make your own jewelry with beads and pendants made from wood, pearl, shell, horn, and bone to compile a personalized and earthy collection that reflects your own style. Most natural beads take to dyes pretty readily and it is something you can do right at home (Tip: Rit dye works great and is available at your local grocery store).

Wooden Beads
Bamboo, sandalwood, rosewood, bayong… there are so many! The shapes are endless and the variations in the patterns are diverse enough that you will never find the same bead with the same markings. What is super convenient and wonderful about wood is that you can alter it to be whatever you want it to be. Since it’s light and soft, you can cut it into any organic shape. It takes on color extremely well so dye it, color it, or draw on it to achieve that perfect look you’re aiming for. If you decide to keep the natural color, they go great with browns, oranges, yellows, and golds.

shell beads
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Shell Beads

Mother of pearl! Every shape, size, and color of shell beads is available to swim right into your design pool. Taking a trip down to the beach this summer? Comb the sand in search of the perfect shell to make your own shell necklace… Cherished for their pearlescent qualities and light weight, shell beads form intricate patterns and treasured textures.

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls come from freshwater mussels and are mostly cultivated in China. Pearls today can resemble anything from a small grain of rice to a perfect round and everything in between. The great thing is that they are affordable. If you find a shape that is out of your price range, keep looking because you will surely find one that may be lesser quality but cheap. White freshwater pearls are ideal for making classic pearl staples, but colored freshwater pearls offer extra design possibility and add flair.

bone beads
Shop for bone beads on etsy

Nuts and Seeds
These are not your glass seed beads manufactured to perfection. Nuts, seeds, and pods from foliage make spectacular assets. Most people like to use them as filler beads, but if you find one that special enough in color and intricate in shape, it definitely deserves the spotlight! Get right up an close to a buri nut or palm seed and you will be surprised at how much variation there is, especially the ones found in rain forests and other tropical areas.

Emmy Hirsch is an intern at SchulmanArt and will be an incoming freshman at Franklin and Marshall College in the fall of 2013.


Beads from bone today are typically made from cow or camel bone. These beads are extremely easy to manipulate: if you want it to be darker with a brown undertone, soak it in tea, coffee, or soda until the desired color is reached. If you want it to be brighter and lighter, soak it in the ratio of one part bleach to seven parts water. If you just want color, dye it! Bone beads are often smooth and rich in appearance, though they can be a little tricky to shape or cut.

SchulmanArt has rounded up some of the best DIY tutorials and jewelry kits to help get you started!!


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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