Watercolor Wooden Bead Necklaces

Despite the fact that I own twelventytwo thousand necklaces, I want more. Specifically, I want a bunch of these trendish-y bohemian summer, extra long wooden bead and tassel necklaces that are everywhere, but nowhere that I can find. I keep seeing metal versions in the store but who wants a metal chain around their neck when it’s hot out? No spanxs.

So, when the folks at Michael’s asked me to share a Mothers day project that could be made for moms or by moms or by dads for moms…I thought, this is a winner. Oddly enough, my own mom was not much of a crafter but I do recall her making a wooden bead necklace with me on a piece of leather cord. It was with those rainbow abacus beads and I would slide the beads back and forth to learn addition and subtraction. It is nice to think my earliest math skills are rooted in rainbow jewelry. Surely an omen of good things to come.

Anyhooters, back to the Mothers Day project, looky here!

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I think I’m supposed to give them to a mom, but I’m probably keeping them for me. Cat moms count!

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These are crazy easy to make, especially if you like projects that embrace randomness. I don’t want to pitch this as a strictly kid project because I think the end results can look pretty sophisticated, however, I’m confident the results will come out better if you can embrace unpredictability with kid-like, wild abandonment.

You in? Let’s go!

materials-rainbow-beads

Materials
Wooden beads. Varying sizes. My smallest here is 5mm, largest is 20mm. The big ones look good but whoa can they get heavy! Be sure to buy the unfinished beads as anything pre-varnished will not absorb the pigments.
Water colors. I’m using Dr. Martin’s liquid brand here because that’s what I have on hand and I know the quality is supreb, but you could use any brand of watercolor. Even the stuff they sell in the cheapo travel pallets. Generally, the cheaper the paint the lesser the pigments, which will give you a more pastel color. I happen to like the chalky finish here. You do you.
Embroidery floss. I’m using this for the tassels, but you could certainly sub with yarn or ribbon.
Necklace cording. Michael’s sells a huge variety of colored cords but I like this stuff because it’s smooth. I love the look of the hemp and twine cords but I’ll only wear them with a collared shirt, so this smoother stuff is great.
Plastic or styrofoam egg carton. This is to provide little pools for dyeing the beads. If you don’t have a waterproof egg carton laying around, a deviled egg dish does nicely, or just a selection of disposable cups. Your call!

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Mix your watercolor paint with a small amount of water. Maybe a tablespoon. Hard to say how much exactly depending on the density of your paint and the porousness of the beads so you’ll have to experiment a bit. Like I said – this project is best when you embrace the unpredictable!

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Let the beads soak about 10 minutes. Some dye will absorb almost instantly (like the hot pink) and some will take a while and still look awfully subtle (blue). You can also take them out in phases and/or mix the dyes to get a whole variety of hues and saturations. When you pull them out, just set them on paper towels to absorb the extra liquid. They won’t dry 100% for a few hours but if you get them dry to the touch you can string them up within a few minutes.

Also. Warning: wear gloves.

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Use gloves, or a plastic spoon, or just give in to the elements. If people ask you why your hands look odd, tell them purple fingers are all the rage in Ibiza.

Because everything is a trend in a Ibiza, eventually.IMG_2349

Now all that’s left to do is string them up!

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If you want to know how to make a simple tassel, I wrote an in-depth post on that a couple years back. I also threw in a few black and white beads from Michaels for good measure. That’s my never-fail tip for color and pattern mixing: throw in something with a graphic black and white pattern to ground the crazy and it will always, always, always look good.

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Or you can skip the tassel and extra beads. It looks mighty swell on its own! And no fancy clasps here. These necklaces are meant to be worn long so you just tie a knot off the top and call it a day. Bam!

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Although the beads are laid out randomly, sometimes I’d find that it did not lay evenly because there was too much weight on one side, so I went and added an extra large bead to the opposite side. If I was a serious beader I’d weigh this stuff on a scale first, but I don’t think anyone is calling the bead police here.

rainbow bead necklace easy kid craft

This one is the simplest but it might be my favorite! I also like this one…

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Michaels sells this twisted cord stuff that is super cute, although a bit too big to thread through the holes of most beads. Darnit!

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This makes a terrific project for kids of all ages (that means you) and if you decide to not give it to a mom, that’s cool too. Happy crafting!


Comments

  1. Katie says

    I was JUST lamenting the fact that most of my jewelry is broken or incredibly out of date/not my style anymore. This is the perfect, cost effective solution. Thank you!

    • aunt peaches says

      Seriously, I made six necklaces off of one trip to Michaels and I just ordered some more wooden beads in bulk so I can make more. I want dozens of these so I can hook them in my fingers and twirl around like Stevie Nicks.

  2. says

    ((Goes to the grocery store and buys all the clearance egg dye))

    • aunt peaches says

      Hahahahaha, smarty pants!!

  3. Nancy says

    This post is the best thing that happened today.
    Lola’s post was the best thing that happened yesterday.
    You’re on a roll.
    P.S. Have you ever tried dyeing with Kool-aid? Haven’t tried it myself, but I understand it makes some very pretty colors.

    • aunt peaches says

      I have dyed paper with koolaid and the colors are LOVELY. Haven’t tried with beads though as I’m not sure how stable food grade dye will be, but it’s worth a try! I’ll let you know if I have any luck!

  4. tonilea says

    really pretty, really fun and YES My fingers would look just like yours because why bother with rubber gloves?????

  5. Becky says

    How does the color hold up? Does it come off on your skin or clothes when the beads are dry? What if they get damp?

    • aunt peaches says

      That’s the benefit to soaking the beads instead of just painting on the color – is stains the wood and it sticks. I tested my beads in a wet paper towel 24 hours later- no problem, but I suppose some paints will react differently. If you are worried you could spray seal them or rub with wax, but I like the chalky finish.

  6. Anna says

    Found this via lil blue boo & Michaels makers. This project looks like a winner! Hello teachers appreciation in May, they LURVE it when the kiddos make their gifts. (6 yo & 3 yo). Many thanks.

  7. Jean says

    Cute! My granddaughters will love this project!

  8. says

    Love this project! So simple yet so classy – I’m running to Hobby Lobby tomorrow to buy beads. 🙂

  9. says

    So fun! Great activity for kids. Not they dyeing part but the beading would keep my daughter busy all afternoon! Visiting from Craft School Sunday.

  10. says

    My little cousin Joan would love them. Especially the “making” part. Thank you! You are saving me a lot of time 🙂

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