Make Southwest Style Jewelry

Leslie Rogalski


Turquoise dreams

I love big saguaro cactus, the tall desert sentinels that look like they have arms at odd angles. They must be the most iconic cacti of all cacti. But I don’t want to use their image or shape, or coyotes or bucking broncos for that matter, cute as some may be, when I want to evoke a Southwest style in my jewelry. With Bead Fest Santa Fe coming up, I thought I’d share some inspiring examples that show other ways to design in a style of the Southwest, and leave the coyotes to howl at the moon.

Stone and silver
Most of us associate a Southwest style with very specific materials. Turquoise and silver sure evoke Santa Fe to me. Natural indigenous elements including wood, leather, and feathers enhance the style, don't you agree?
Cascading Leaves

Cascading Leaves by Cheron Gelber has a Southwest flair with just touches of turquoise.

Turquoise Textures

Turquoise Textures by Lisa Lampe uses wood, leather, and silver with turquoise.

Boho Earrings

Linda Larsen’s Southwest Boho earrings show how turquoise brings a western feeling to modern silverwork.

Native American tradition
Peyote stitch is derived from—and is believed to be the same as—a traditional weaving technique called gourd stitch. When used with evocative colors, peyote stitch is a strong visual connection to the Southwest. Bead embroidery and loom weaving also have roots in Native American art traditions.
Peyote Stitch Tube Necklace
In her Peyote-Stitched Tube necklace, Robin Renner stitches beads into a brilliant pattern.
Fringed Pendant

Carole Rodgers used fringes and bead embroidery on leather for her American Treasure pendant.

Mary Thompson’s loom-woven Ojibwe pendant pays homage to one of the oldest of American Indian nations.

Colors of the Southwest
Choose two colors that make you think of Santa Fe. Did you say turquoise and red, or browns and blues? Reflecting the colors of nature from the region is a great way to apply Southwestern flavor to your work.
Painted Desert

Painted Desert by Lisa Kan is aptly named, as she captures a desert in bloom in a multistrand necklace.

Copper Cowgirl

Copper runs in veins through turquoise. In Copper Cowgirl, Michelle Mach makes good use of the two colors.

Native American Beading

David Dean's book, Beading in the Native American Tradition, provides inspiring traditions from nations throughout North America.

Bead Fest Santa Fe is around the bend, but there's still time to plan to join us. And even if you can’t bring yourself to Santa Fe, at least  you can bring Santa Fe into your work.

Have you created Santa Fe style in your work? Tell us how you did it here on Beading Daily.

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About Leslie

Leslie Rogalski, born and bred in Philadelphia, holds a degree in illustration and design from the University of the Arts, and has been “making stuff” since childhood. She was editor in chief of Step by Step Beads before becoming editor of Beading Daily in 2009, and is currently busy making her own designs, teaching, making videos, and writing. She's contributed original designs to Step by Step Beads, Beadwork, Creative Jewelry, and many Interweave books including 101 Wire Earrings and Chain Style. A teacher at many Bead Fest shows, she's a featured presenter on the PBS TV series Beads, Baubles and Jewels. Her lessons, called DoodleBeads©, were first created as videos for Beading Daily, and are a method of drawing thread paths that makes learning beadstitching easy. DoodleBeads is available on DVD. Leslie is known for playing with different materials, though seed beads remain top of her list. Prior to all this Leslie was a freelance writer, illustrator, and sold her original art clothing at national craft shows. She loves all things beady, making iMovies, tap dancing, her wonderful husband, illustrator, book designer, and owner of Eyewash Design, Mike Rogalski, and especiallybeing a stage mother to her Broadway-bound daughter.

5 thoughts on “Make Southwest Style Jewelry

  1. I’m a chainmail designer who uses beads with chainmail weaves. I want to show off a bit! I made a lovely chainmail necklace that is VERY southwest in look and can’t figure out how to post a photo. Please assist.

  2. I am trying to order the pattern for Robin Renner’s Peyote stitched tube necklace, but I get stuck when it asks me for a coupon number. Where do I find that???

  3. In Erratum, or perhaps just apologies: the Peyote Stitched Tube necklace does not offer an actual chart for the pattern. It will be removed from our store.

    If you have already paid for this project download, please contact with a replacement project request to be sent.

    Put peyote tube replacement in the subject line, please, so we can assist you as quickly as possible.