Jewelry Of The Current Generation

Hemp is a rather versatile material, with uses ranging from 50,000 different products, from biomass fuel to fabrics. While currently banned from being harvested in the United States due to its relations with drug-related plants, we can still enjoy great hemp creations.

One such creation that has been popular for quite a few years is hemp jewelry. A few features set hemp jewelry apart from other types of handcrafted pieces.

Inexpensive: Hemp jewelry is low in price compared to the typical handmade metalworked jewelry.

Durable: This is not the kind of jewelry to snap when you least expect it. Wear it to the gym, work, clubs, anywhere you desire.

Environmentally friendly: If you get tired of your hemp, yes it can be recycled.

While hemp jewelry is typically seen in stores catering more towards teenagers and young adults, don't let that fool you. The subtle textures and neutral color of natural hemp lends itself very well toward completing a casual ensemble. With dyed hemp, available in a wide variety of colors, you can mix and match your jewelry to your outfit.

Hemp is often featured with spring and summer colors, with colorful beads, often lampworked (a form of handmade beads), added along the length of the jewelry.

Hemp jewelry is available at a variety of retailers across the country, but the best comes from those that handcraft their jewelry from their own homes Craft shows and flea markets are a great place to find them, and you can pick up and try on the pieces, as well as getting around shipping costs.

While hemp, both handcrafted and in bulk, is available on the Internet, it's something of a pain to determine if the piece is right for you just by looking at a picture. Factors like light, weight and feel all effect hemp jewelry purchases, and it something you can neither describe or emulate through text. However, many jewelry designers do make a great deal of sales through online venues such as eBay.

The absolute best thing about hemp jewelry is how fun and easy it is to make yourself. While there are certain weaves that take a great deal of time and practice to master, even the basic knots look great and are simple to create.

The following is a simple step by step project suitable for ages five and up. Try it yourself or turn it into a fun afternoon projects with your kids.

Hemp Necklace

Materials needed:

A ball of 20lb hemp (High quality hemp can be purchased at a variety of craft stores. My favorite is www.firemountaingems.com, and you can also find hemp at www.michaels.com and www.hempjewelryshop.com)

Scissors

Tape measure

Masking Tape

At least one bead for end knot (more if adding to jewelry design)

Optional:

Beeswax

Glue

1. Clear off a flat surface, making sure its clean from dust or dirt. After all, you do want to wear this after you're done.

2. Measure out two lengths of hemp, each approximately 3 yards. Yes this seems like a lot, but if you regularly make hemp this gets reduced rather significantly. For right now, you'll need the extra length to experiment.

3. Fold both lengths in half.

4. Place one end (where the hemp makes a loop) on top of the other strand, making sure that none of the four strands are touching.

5. The middle two strands are referred to as carrier strands, meaning that they will carry any beads that are added to this project. The outer two strands are what will actually be knotted, forming the pattern of the necklace.

6. The knot that will make up the majority of the necklace is called the square knot, which is commonly used in other, non jewelry related projects such as sailing and camping. Moving the outer strands down slightly from the loop of the carrier strands, keeping in mind that you will need enough space to fit a bead or end knot through the hole it leaves, begin by placing the right outer cord over the carrier strands and under the left outer strand (it will look vaguely like the number 4). Leave the right outer cord where it is for a moment, this time moving the left outer cord under the carrier strands, and through the opening made by the right outer strand (inside the 4, if you will). Make sure to pull the hemp tight.

7. Put tape at the top of the loop made by this knot, and also at the end of the two carrier strands, making sure that it holds the carriers tight. This will help keep your knots tight and make completed project looking great. I find it helpful to incline the piece I'm working on, by taping the loop up (say on my monitor) and taping the carriers at the end of the desk. This allows me to have both secure carriers, and the freedom of movement for the outer strands (you'll see what I mean when you attempt your first project flat on the table).

8. Repeat the procedure of step 6, this time starting with the left outer strand. You will do this until you are satisfied with the length of the project. You do not have to use up all the hemp that you have cut. In fact, it's highly doubtful that you will need all of it.

9. This is an optional step: If you want to add beads to your project, simply slide them up the carrier strands until they meet the last knot, then do exactly as you have been, making sure to pull the outer strands tight around the bead.

10. Once you have finished the knotting, it's now time to make a closure for the piece. There are a wide variety of ways to do this, but the simplest is using a bead that's slightly larger than your loop (remember, the one you made at the beginning?). Slide a bead onto your carrier strands, then tie an overhand knot using all 4 strands (an overhand knot is just a fancy name for your typical knot, take all 4 strands, make a loop with them, then pull them through the loop).

11. Cut off the extra hemp, gluing the end knot to make it stronger.

12. If the hemp is scratchy when you put it on, run beeswax over the strands. This will eliminate most, if not all, of the irritation.

13. Viola, finished!

If the project doesn't look exactly as you imagined it, keep in mind that hemp jewelry designers spent many hours practicing and perfecting their jewelry. This project is a basic one, taking 30 minutes to an hour for a beginner, but shortening to around five to 10 minutes if you really keep at it.

For an alternate look, instead of switching between left and right knots, simply stick with one. This will create a twisting pattern that looks quite nice.

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