Joie de Vivre jewelry
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quick links: wood | leather | silk & satin |

Wood, leather and fabrics like silk and satin add warmth and softness to jewelry designs. I've always enjoyed the warmth and beauty of items made from wood, from simple domestic hardwoods like walnut and maple to exotic hardwoods like bayong and purpleheart. Because many wood components are made from scrap wood, it's easy to go "green" with accessories constructed with this recycled and renewable material.

Leather cord has been available in craft stores for decades, but cord in varieties of thickness, colors and finishes is new and welcome, especially for pairing with interesting pendants and larger scale beads. Deerskin leather is another staple that has found renewed popularity for its suppleness and versatility in design. I like leather to convey woodsiness or naturalness to a design.

I love hand-dyed strips of silk ribbon, and it's been very fun to pair colorful ribbons with pendants for a nice zip of color. An advantage to keeping silk ribbon long and loose: necklace length is adjustable and the trailing edges of the ribbon look great too! Satin cord comes in terrific colors and thickness to complement many designs, plus it's softer than chain and heftier than silk.

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A trip to the wood store reveals a simple truth: there are many beautiful woods! From the king and queen of woods (walnut and cherry) to the simple pine or popular, wood offers something for just about anyone. There's dark hues (ebony & wenge) and pale blondes (maple & beech), tough nuts (hickory) and exotic hardwoods (sapele & padauk), not to mention fragrant woods like cedar and rosewood. Unfortunately, most of these woods are not offered in bead form. Thankfully, with some simple hand tools, one can convert wood scraps from larger projects into unique jewelry art. Mass production beads tend to be from Asian hardwoods that grow quickly and can be shaped easily, such as Chinese boxwood and cheesewood. Other exotic tropical woods are bayong, palmwood and kamagong that are durable with interesting grain and a variety of finishes.

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Acoustic Guitar
Mystic Oak

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As an accessory, it's hard to argue for anything other than leather. Leather bags, shoes and belts can be the defining article of an outfit; indeed, why else would fashion editors talk of "It" bags and fabulous shoes? In jewelry, leather also has a place, though perhaps not as prominent. Deerskin leather is so soft and supple that it's tempting to use it for everything, from simple ribbons to pair with pendants to elaborate braided pieces, just to have the softness in easy finger reach. Most leather is from cow hides that can be treated to emulate a number of different kinds and styles of leather. As with wood, scraps resulting from larger scale projects make excellent raw material for jewelry components.

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Earth Chick
High Five

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It is still amazing to me that silk derives from caterpillars' cocoons. The material is strong, flexibles and shimmers with hidden fire. How is this possible from insect debris? We can talk about the protein fiber of silk and the triangular prism-like structure that refracts light for the shimmering quality, but someone long ago had to think of collecting enough material to spin into a fabric. Ingenious.

Technically, satin is a particular weave of silk fiber, though today satin can refer to the characteristic four or more fill yarns floating over a warp yarn made of fibers of nylon or polyester as well as silk. This uniformity in fill yarns is responsible for the glossy appearance since light is scattered less from the surface.

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