Does Jewelry grow on trees? Well, this one certainly does!
In the last one year, I have been looking for ways to include natural or altered natural materials in my work. Trips to Pulicat got me interested in Palm leaf jewelry. My Siem Reap travels introduced me to seed jewelry. While I have been looking at incorporating coconut shell and wood in my jewelry collection, it calls for more experimentation. In the meanwhile, I got reintroduced to Cork. I say reintroduced, as I saw cork products being designed for the first time about two years ago at a student graduation showcase. It was used in bag design. I then wondered about using cork discs as modern earrings. However, I could not source them locally. Eventually this year, I sourced some beautiful cork cord and tape and decided to make Ethnic jewelry with it.
What is cork
Portuguese Cork is extracted from Quercus suber – the cork oak tree, that is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. It is a unique natural plant tissue that is found on the outer layer (bark) of the tree. According to Corkor, After the uncorking (extraction) the oak tree produces a new layer of bark with the same thickness. It is cut, pressed, and shaped into a form that can later be converted to accessories and jewelry.
DIY Ethnic Cork Necklace
I made this necklace using the finest Portuguese Cork cord from Endless Leather. Its beautiful with subtle gold splashes that lend it a luxurious look. I contrasted this with the dusty, crusty distressed silver-tone Afghan pendant, chain, and ghungroos to get a contemporary looking Ethnic Cork Necklace.
- Silver tone Afghani pendant
- Distressed Silver tone chain
- Distressed Silver tone ghungroos (dangles) – 26 pcs
- 10X 2mm natural gold Cork cord – 20 in
- 5mm Distressed Silver tone jump rings – 25 pcs
- 10mm equivalent pewter ribbon ends -2
- Liquid fusion glue
- Silver tone lobster clasp
- Carnelian embroidery thread
- Tools – nose pliers, Scissors, needle (optional)
1.Cut chain into 16 pieces of 2.5 inches. Using Jump rings add dangles to one end.
2. On another ring add two such prepared chains and connect it to a gap in the pendant. Since I used a focal instead of a pendant there are no loops on the focal. Instead, I used the gaps in the Jali pattern to connect my rings
3. Add dangles using jump rings to fill the side gaps in the focal. Now the focal will look like the one on the left. I am sorry that I do not have a before picture of the pendant to show you.
If you are using a solid pendant, you can skip step 3. But the beauty of Afghani pieces is in their dangles and tassels. So this turned out to be an advantage for me.
4. Cut two pieces of cork tape at 10 inches length. I wanted the pendant to be at chest level with the tassel hanging below.
5. Glue the tapes to the ribbon ends and let dry.
6. Using jump rings connect them to the prepared pendant
7. Interlace embroidery thread through the gap, from one side to the other and back again to get a band of colour. Repeat if you want a thicker band. You can also use multiple color threads for a bright look.
8. Knot the end and glue with the fusion clear glue. Let dry.
9. Connect a clasp in the end of the cork cord with jump rings to complete your necklace. You can wire wrap more beads or dangles to the focal or the cord to create variations.
In India shining silver metal is more commonly available than dull distressed silver. However, I wanted an aged look for this piece to juxtapose perfectly with the cork cord. So I bought two Afghani necklaces which had several ghungroos, layers of chains, and pendants on them. I dismantled them and used one of the focal components as the pendant and cut the chain up for the tassel. But you can use a pendant with loops and lengths of chain for this design.
At the moment, I am fascinated with Ethnic jewelry and have been looking at images of jewelry from all over the world these days. I intend to recreate fun variations of designs that catch my fancy. This DIY Ethnic Cork Necklace Tutorial is just the beginning. Do share your valuable feedback with me on this tutorial and the possible variations you can create. If you like ethnic jewelry, you might also like reading Faux Afghan Tribal jewelry. If you did find this tutorial interesting, please share on social media channels and tag @jewelsofsayuri or @sayuri (on facebook)