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Seven Zen principles in a necklace design

Updated: Apr 7, 2019

In this journal entry we would like to share how seven Zen principles were applied in a necklace design. It originated from being an a quest for matcha chawans and witnessing ceramic beads being wood fired together with shino bowls. The rest is history as they say.

These minimalist anagama and amber necklaces were created by applying archaic Baltic and Japanese concepts and materials in a contemporary manner. The creative process resulted in original and unique necklaces charged with strong forest, sea and fire energies.


The seven Zen principles followed are:

  1. Austerity (koko)

  2. Simplicity (kanso)

  3. Naturalness (shizen)

  4. Subtlety (yugen

  5. Imperfection and asymmetry (fukinsei)

  6. Stillness (seijaku)

  7. Break from routine (datsuzoku)

The main focus in the necklace is one, and only one, wood-fired ceramic bead, which visually resembles a planet. It is unique for being wood-fired for three days in an enormously high 1,300°C temperature, where melting natural wood ash played an important role in the artistic process. One main ceramic bead embodies the first Zen principle – austerity – which teaches us to refrain from unnecessary excess.


The second principle – simplicity – can be seen in the necklace through its understated beauty. Beauty may be quiet and not overly decorative in order to cultivate our attentiveness. Moreover, the focus of attention should be the wearer's inner beauty, not the necklace itself.


The third principle – naturalness. The design concept of the necklace is derived from nature, but is touched by sensitive human creativity. The ceramic bead is created by both fire and artist - amber, by forest, sea and human touch. It, therefore, symbolises a beautiful connection between nature and human beings.


The fourth principle – subtlety. It's an allusion. The necklace seems to be unfinished, creating a desire to touch it with your imagination. It attracts attention, intrigues and stimulates creativity, which leads to a beautiful connection between the art and the viewer.

The fifth principle – stillness. It is a pause in the music. Motionless moments in the dance. It allows us to fall into a deep breath, which gives a strong inner peace. Emptiness in the necklace showcases the beauty of each element, balancing the weight of ceramic bead and imbuing the wearer with both importance and lightness.


The sixth principle – imperfection and asymmetry. The concept of these necklaces is the same, but each of them is unique depending on the materials used and their composition. However, they all are united by the asymmetric use of amber beads. Nature is perfect in its imperfection, there is no pure symmetry and sterility. The use of this principle imbues the necklace and the wearer with vitality and realness.


The seventh principle – break from routine. We often circle around inside the routines of our thoughts and habits forgetting how we got there in the first place. Our creativity is constrained by tradition, norms and rules. In creating this necklace, the artist broke the usual approach in placing the weight center. Typically the weight center is determined by the strongest and the most powerful element, however by adding one smaller amber bead next to the ceramic bead we see that the weight center is affected. The application of this Zen principle reminds us to constantly play with new ideas in order to bring in freshness and newness into our lives.


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© 2019 by Shibumi, Auckland, New Zealand