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Design Lessons from a Tuna

A tuna?  Heather have you lost your mind? (Photo credit: Kretyen)
No! Not the fish – although I’m sure there are some lessons there too, but today let’s consider the cactus tuna.  Tuna is the name of the fruit of cactus, shown in the photo above.    It’s also known as a prickly pear.  So the other day I came across a few inspiring photos of tuna and started thinking about how they relate to jewelry making.  Well, really if you look at anything in nature and study it carefully you’ll find inspiration for your creative work.
Ceramic beads from NPKbeads, polymer clay pendant from Humblebeads.
Lampwork beads from RadiantMind and patina hammered bars from MissFickleMedia.

(Photo credit: Pizzodisevo)

Polymer clay headpins from Humblebeads, lampwork glass beads from DonnaMillard.
Czech glass beads and Vintaj bead cap from DreamGirlBeads.
Now that we’ve got the eye candy out of the way, here are some lessons from the tuna:
Be resourceful!  Who looked at those things and decided, umm tasty?  But not only do folks cut the fruit and eat it plain, it’s made into candy, jelly, drinks and a whole lot more.  The green part of the cactus is cut up and cooked into dishes.  Both are sold at my local grocer.  So look around your studio and get creative with what you already have on hand!
That leads me to the next lesson – take chances!  The plant screams out danger, but someone took the risk to see if it was edible and they made quite a discovery.  Try something new and a little scary in your studio this week.
Nature is the best color instructor – I mean just look at those two palettes.  You could spend your whole life studying nature and color and you’d still have things to learn.
Texture makes life interesting!  Look at those textures – smooth, spiky, velvety soft – mix it up in your jewelry to add life to your work.  Think smooth stones next to warm wood, slick glass next to rough raku ceramic.  Have fun mixing art beads from different mediums with accent beads in dynamic textures.
Explore variations of a theme.  Nature didn’t stop at just one type of cactus.  Oh no look at how many there are!  Look how different just the two of these plants are and they are the same type.  Basically don’t stop at the first design solution – you’ll often find working a design 2 or 3 times in different variations will produce even more creative and successful results.  Revisit older designs and try them in a different color combination or with a new focal bead.
And speaking of lessons from nature – I’m so inspired by nature when it comes to jewelry that I wrote a book about it! 
It will be out in September and can be pre-ordered now:

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16 Comment

  1. Reply
    Heidi
    May 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Love the first set – that purpley magenta color is so beautiful, and now I want tons of those missficklemedia bars 🙂

  2. Reply
    LissC
    May 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    great pictures. Can't wait to read your book. I take my camera with me as much as possible, especially on walks so that I can capture colors and textures. I have always felt that mother nature is the most supreme artist there is.

    Congrats on the book! Can't wait to get my hands on it 🙂

  3. Reply
    Lori's Glassworks
    May 11, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    All good lessons! I need a bit of inspiration today. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!
    Lori

  4. Reply
    m.e.
    May 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I WANT Heather's BOOK!!!!
    It can not be anything but wonderful!!!!
    off to pre -order
    m.e. 🙂

  5. Reply
    Cynthia
    May 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    If the cover is any clue as to what's inside, I MUST GET THAT BOOK!
    Great post!

  6. Reply
    LiPeony
    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    beautiful comparisons of nature and what it inspires. I've never tried prickly peach or cactus before mm…

  7. Reply
    sandi m
    May 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    A big Congratulations!! Look forward to your book and all beautiful inspirations.

  8. Reply
    Sally Anderson
    May 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Wow! That's awesome, Heather. Congrats on what looks like a really wonderful book.

  9. Reply
    JeannieK
    May 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    This will definitely be in my hands as soon as it comes out. Love the cover Heather. Cheers to your new book.

  10. Reply
    Happy Mango Beads
    May 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I love the first set too! The hammered bars are amazing…

  11. Reply
    Georgene Lockwood
    May 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    How cool is that? Your very own book. I'm pre-ordering it right now! Being an author myself I know how much goes into writing a book. Pat yourself on the back…again….again!

    Congratulations. Fun post, too!

  12. Reply
    Jenni
    May 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Great photos, Heather.Nature is always such a fantastic source of inspiration. I am so glad you have written a book with that wonderful topic in mind. Congratulations, fantastic effort. I will be pre-ordering.
    Jenni

  13. Reply
    Erin
    May 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Heather, your book looks amazing! I can NOT wait to see it. The design on the cover is incredible! I will be reading this from cover to cover. Is there any way to order a signed copy?

  14. Reply
    missficklemedia.com
    May 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Fantastic advise from someone I consider a leader in the art bead industry.
    I am ALL OVER THIS BOOK, pre-ordered and waiting for it to arrive!
    Congrats, Heather! I look forward to the inspiration within its pages.

  15. Reply
    Beads
    May 17, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Nature is one of the most creative creatures ever. The elegance of symmetry is so simple, but works so well.

    You're article captured this!

  16. Reply
    chicandfrog
    May 17, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Thanks for the advices! I have to admit that one of my limitations is that I barely stick different kind of beads together. I will work on that!

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