Real Men Wear Beads – How to Bead For a Man

In all my years of doing bead-weaving, I've only ever attempted one piece of jewelry meant for a man. For me, anyway, figuring out how to bead for a man is really, really difficult! Even though a lot of my beadwork leans towards gender-neutral colors and styles, I still have a hard time picturing a guy wearing any of my beaded necklaces or bracelets. (It probably doesn't help that I favor little flowery buttons as my clasps on my beaded jewelry, either.)

Earlier this year, my friends at York Beads held a Bead For a Man competition, looking for some of the best man-friendly jewelry out there from the online beading community. After all, Perry and Kelly at York are two of the beadiest boys I know! The entries came from all over the world, and I chose four of my favorites to share with you here, along with some advice for how to bead for a man from the designers who created them.

Aurelio Castano's bracelet was made entirely of hardware and seed beads — brilliant! Aurelio says that when he designs jewelry for a man, he thinks about how to keep it simple, classy, and most importantly, making it easy to wear. His hardware bracelet would go flawlessly with almost any outfit.  

Christina Neit, one of the Beadwork magazine Designers Of the Year, created a leather cuff bracelet using the new Chexx beads. She says that some of the greatest admirers of her beadwork are men, even though she feels that men like their jewelry less complicated in more neutral colors. She didn't make this piece with a man in mind, but it was a winner in the competition! Christian's best advice if you want to bead for a man: don't over-complicate it.

 

Bead artist Shelley Nybakke's winning entry (pictured in the background of the photo using the brass cornerless cubes) was actually inspired by an earlier design of hers. When designing a piece of jewelry for a man, Shelley recommends making it twice as sturdy as you would make the same piece for a woman — double your beading thread if you usually use just one strand. She also recommends using an easy-to-handle clasp. And finally, just because you're beading for a man doesn't mean that you can't use color! Just lean towards some "manly", earthy colors.

Finally, from across the pond in the UK, is Heather Kingsley-Heath's sinuous snake bracelet, made with O-beads and with a core of heavy wire. Heather found inspiration in the beadwork worn by men of African tribes and from the intricate jewelry worn by men throughout history — the Vikings, collars of beads from ancient Egypt, and heavy, ornate Medieval rings. Her best tip for creating man-friendly beadwork is to just remember: not every guy is Johnny Depp!

Looking for more great inspiration for how to bead for a man? Check out Jean Campbell's Mixed Media: Making Steampunk-Style Jewelry on DVD. Jean shows you step-by-step how to take found objects and transform them into fun, funky jewelry — and that includes great jewelry-making ideas for men, too! And for a limited time during the annual Interweave Hurt Book Sale, you can get your copy of Mixed Media: Making Steampunk-Style Jewelry for less than $7! Check out this and all the great beading resources on sale now during the Interweave Hurt Book Sale, and save big!

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What's your take on men's jewelry? Do you struggle when it comes to figuring out how to bead for a man? Leave your tips and advice for designing great men's jewelry here on the Beading Daily blog, or better yet, why not add an image of your best beaded men's jewelry to our Reader Photo Gallery? Now, if I can just convince my husband that striped seed beads go really well with his Carhart work pants…

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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