Project Alert: How to use leftover beads to make a Statement Piece!

February 25, 2011

This blog is designed to address what I call “Orphan Beads”…

If you are a jewelry maker, then inevitably you have some beads lying around at your house or in your studio. You know what I’m talking about; those stray beads leftover from projects past? A gemstone here, a few lampwork glass beads there.

Too often these lost beads find homes at the bottom of our “bead organizers” and ” junk drawers” to never be used. I used to stare at these beads with turmoil, wondering how to organize them. In fact, I am ashamed to admit that in fits of OCD cleaning, I have actually thrown these lost beads away.

But at last, I have found a project to use these stray beads, and in a way that is actually appealing!

To begin this project, you need very little. Start by collecting all of your “orphan beads” together. Now pick one color palette to work within. As you can see here, I have chosen to work with hues of blue and teal.

Try to find an assortment of beads in varying materials. If you look closely, you can see my assortment contains some Mother of Pearl, Magnesite Skulls, Resin Rectangles, Foil Glass, Recycled Glass Trade Beads, Turquoise, Amazonite, Shell Pearls, Paua Shell and even some Coral from our limited-availability stock. (Just to name a few!) I also found some various beads in Antiqued Silver Plate. I think it looks nice to add a metallic touch! If you like, you can incorporate some found objects as well, such as buttons and washers, into your design.

Once you have your random bead assortment, then you can begin the stringing process. I like to use waxed linen cord with a little Hypo Fabric Cement to seal any knot ends.

Start creating your necklace with a bead that has a hollow ring-like shape if possible, like I have done below. Cut a piece of waxed linen about three or four feet long. Find the center of the strand and tie the linen around your first bead, securing with a simple knot.

Now begin adding beads from your random assortment. Just place one of the two strands through the holes of the beads. Secure with a knot between each bead.

This is a good time to have a bead reamer handy for those beads that have a hole just a little too small for the waxed linen. Continue this process until you get near the end of your strand of waxed linen. Use another hollow ring-like shape bead here. Tie a secure double knot, trim the waxed linen and seal the edges with hypo fabric cement.

Cut a new strand of waxed linen and repeat the process. I like to make a necklace that ends up long enough to double over and still be long, or triple over and be really chunky. (About 7 feet total!)

The end result is a mixed-media statement necklace that utilizes all of your random leftover beads!

Tiffany White

Rings & Things Showroom

Design Team

PS: here are some handy links to some other how-to’s in the Rings & Things blog!

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  • Reply jams February 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Clever. I like the use of the cording. 🙂

    • Reply Tiffany-at-Rings-Things March 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks! The cording is our new waxed linen. It works great for stringing beads because the waxy coating can be molded into a fine point to get through those smaller holes.

  • Reply Fenton September 21, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks for the instructions, what kind of knot do you use between the beads?

    • Reply Polly September 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Fenton,
      Just a simple overhand knot is fine.

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