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!
I think I’m supposed to give them to a mom, but I’m probably keeping them for me. Cat moms count!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
Now all that’s left to do is string them up!
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.
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!
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.
This one is the simplest but it might be my favorite! I also like this one…
Michaels sells this twisted cord stuff that is super cute, although a bit too big to thread through the holes of most beads. Darnit!
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!