Real Men Wear Beads - How to Bead For a Man

Jul 9, 2014

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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Comments

m50jewelry wrote
on Jul 9, 2014 8:05 AM

What a great idea for a column!  We don't see enough of this topic.

When I make jewelry for a man, I know he does not want to look "girly".  That means blacks, grays, blues, natural materials are all good.

My particular category is jewelry for chefs.  I feature pigs, dumplings and knives as wrap bracelets, pins and necklaces.  The men really seem to like the pyrite gemstone leather wrap bracelet with the pig closure.

Check it out on www.etsy.com/shop/chefjewelry

momcat560 wrote
on Jul 9, 2014 9:25 AM

I have known many men over the years who wear jewelry, but only neckwear and/or rings.  I've never known any that wear bracelets, with the exception of those "Speidel" chain bracelets with name plates that were popular back in the 1970s.  (I still have mine! :D)

Good article, though.  As the previous comment noted, you just don't see a lot of information on making pieces for the guys.

demesk wrote
on Jul 9, 2014 10:18 AM

Hi, is there any way to get the pattern for Aurelio Castano's bracelet?  It is outstanding!  I tried to "friend" him on Facebook (in the hopes of sending him the question) but he is already at capacity for friends so I can only follow.  Any help would be appreciated.  Kate

on Jul 9, 2014 10:57 AM

My take on men's jewelry is not to stereotype by gender. Just as there are women who don't love the kind of complex, heavily-embellished bead embroidery that I tend towards, there are men who don't love understated, heavy, neautrally-coloured  "masculine" jewelry. I've made custom pieces for men that include those colours usually thought of as "masculine" & I've made pieces full of riotous colour for male customers as well. It works a lot better for me to ask what the customer WANTS rather than to assume he/she will prefer something based on the person's gender.

Carl4 wrote
on Jul 9, 2014 1:02 PM

As one of those rare creatures - a male beader - pretty much everything I make is for female relations and friends.  The only thing I've made for myself isn't beaded.  It's a byzantine weave chain maille bracelet ( in black and silver) - I do have a pen with a Swarovski crystal set into it :)

Star Dust wrote
on Jul 9, 2014 6:13 PM

Aurelio Castano's bracelet is my favorite and I could see many of male friends wearing it. Christina Neit, comes in second, but I can only picture my gay guys wearing that one.  Both would be worn by many women too.  Are they in any publications?  Will we ever get any patterns?

on Jul 9, 2014 9:30 PM

Great ideas - I have a brother and several male friends who wear simple jewelry. I made a beautiful green tourmaline and grey agate choker for my boyfriend who wears it all the time.

tnetcenter wrote
on Jul 10, 2014 1:04 AM

I started out making survival bracelets.  After one of my friends made a remark about man-bands, I started looking at ways to make things that appeal to women as well as men.  Now, I'm working primarily with copper and brass.  I weave and braid wire to make bracelets, rings, etc. as well as soldering.  I've made earrings, pendants, rings, chains, bracelets, and recently I discovered that I will likely be hot forging as well as cold forging metals to create the items I design.  I incorporate beads into survival bracelets for men and women.  I do chainmaille as well as the more traditional wire wrapping, metal forming, fold forming, etc.   The hot forging aspect is a result of wanting to work with mokume gane, but I can now see myself using those techniques in other ways as I make jewelry for men and women.

I wear a lot of my experiments - mostly rings and bracelets and I have as many guys ask about the jewelry as women.

Oh, and I'm a guy.  I like Aurelio Castano's hardware bracelet.

One of the commenters mentioned ID bracelets - I want to make one with large copper links.  I will have to work out the clasp as well.

Eventually I plan to get into casting too.

Great article!

Jeff

Lkaren wrote
on Jul 12, 2014 7:39 AM

Great article! My brother and male cousins have been asking me for jewelry. However, I'm confused by the price. The article says the book costs under $7.99 yet the only prices I see are $24.99 or $14

99 for the DVD.  Anybody know how to get the "less than $7.99 price?"

Ohhh Snap wrote
on Jul 12, 2014 8:33 AM

When I make something for someone whether it be a card,  a scarf or a piece of jewelry, gender is not ever a consideration in the design or materials. I just make something for that person, with the taste of that person in mind and their activities. A hat for someone whose chief joy is video games will get a different hat than someone who loves skiing.

on Jul 14, 2014 3:50 PM

For Aurelio Castano's bracelet I see ow that it is with square bolts or nuts, but I was thinking at first that it with half Tilas, that's what I a going to try it with for my brother-in-law. Still using the washers and screw for the clasp.

MyLadyK wrote
on Jul 14, 2014 10:17 PM

My guy and several of my clients are metal allergic. For them, I have started a line of necklaces and bracelets made of cording (hemp, cotton, nylon, etc.) I use pendants made of glass, wood, stones, or sterling silver. Recently I located some nylon earring findings to round out my collection. Think outside the box and you'll find whole new possibilities!!

on Jul 15, 2014 7:18 AM

Good news! Aurelio has released the pattern for his nuts-n-bolts bracelet pictured here!

www.etsy.com/.../tuercas-bracelet-pdf-pattern

on Jul 17, 2014 10:20 AM

Aurelio's bracelet is an awesome design!

on Jul 29, 2014 5:45 AM

I am thrilled to read about the beaded jewelry for men. It will be a great idea to gift the special man of your life the special gift which you have prepared with your own hands. I am sure it will be welcomed by him.