The beauty of making ugly jewelry

Posted by Mortira vanPelt
on Monday, May 05, 2014

My entry into this year's Ugly Necklace Contest.

I’ve just finished putting together my entry into this year’s Ugly Necklace contest, and as usual, it has me pondering. This is only my second entry in the contest, which happens every two years, but it has really changed the way I think about jewelry design, competition, and the love of beads.

One purpose of the Ugly Necklace contest is to provide the nearly impossible challenge of making something that is truly ugly. Because we are naturally wired to look for and create with symmetry and balance, it is difficult to ignore all of those instincts. But it’s about much more than just combining ugly beads or making a mess. On another level, beaders are encouraged to dig deep and add extra layers of ugliness that isn’t just about the materials and techniques.

What I like most about the challenge is that I never think about what the other entries might be like. I’m never second guessing my work, wondering if it’s unique enough, or bold enough to impress the judges. For this contest, my only real competition is myself. Can I ignore the rules of good jewelry design? Can a bear to do something ugly with the beads that I love so much? And this year, I needed to outdo my previous design and really layer on the ugly.

I highly recommend creating an Ugly Necklace, for entry or just for fun. Creating your worst possible design can be not only hilarious, but incredibly liberating. When finished, you’ll look at your other designs with entirely new eyes, and have new appreciation for your materials.

Entries for the 2014 Ugly Necklace Contest - sponsored the Land of Odds - are due (by mail) on August 31st, 2014. Up to ten finalists will be chosen to have their entries showcased at the Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts, and compete in a round of voting for the top prize of a bead shopping spree. The best part is, the contest is open to international designers, so everyone can have a chance to do their worst.

Good luck to all of this year’s designers!

Mortira is a full-time bead lover with a passion for seed beads and ancient elements in beadwork. She shares her favorite color ideas, bead finds, and projects every week on her blog, Inspirational Beading.

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