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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Easy crafting gifts: beaded bracelets

a set of beads sold as a mixed assortment, became this
little gem for me, over the holidays! A girl's gotta
have some bling!
I don't have much patience for craft projects that take a lot of time. When searching for an idea for a hand-crafted gift, I look for projects that I can complete in under an hour, and that are very easy. Beading bracelets fills the bill. The larger the beads, the quicker the project will go.

glass pearls and gold seed beads, plus 2 gold charms
 attached by a jump ring slipped right over knot
There's something so satisfying about making a gift. And they're quite inexpensive, too. I spend between $2.75 and $7 per bracelet. The craft store also sells small jewelry size gift boxes, for about 40 cents a piece. And did I mention easy?!

For each bracelet, you'll need:

  • 11 inches stretchy cord ( I use Darice Jewelry Designer Stretchy Cord .8MM, clear)
  • 2 crimp beads, gold or silver, to go with other beads you've chose (Darice Jewelry Designer, 2.5 mm)
  • jeweler's cement or craft cement (has texture of rubber cement, but clear -- I've been using what I had, which is Flora Bond)
  • needle nose pliers, 2 pair are nice if trying to twist a jump ring open and shut, but I also used 1 pair pliers, 1 pair tweezers for a while (until my husband informed me we had another pair of pliers)
  • piece of fabric to lay on a flat surface, like a cloth napkin (keeps the beads from rolling around)
  • beads and charms (your finished product will be roughly 7 inches of beads. Some beads are sold in a string with a measurement on the tag, helpful in determining the amount of beads you need.)
  • a ruler
3 bracelets, two assorted gold beads,
one gold beads with glass leaf beads

1) cut stretchy cord to 11 inches

2) tie a loose knot at one end

3) lay your beads on piece of fabric. Thread beads onto cord, until beaded portion is 7 (small to medium) to 7 1/4 (large) inches long

4) slide a crimp bead on each end of cord (untying the loose knot at end)

5) tie bracelet ends together with a square knot

6) slip the cord ends through each crimp bead (one end per crimp bead)

7) add a dab of crafting cement to knot

8) push crimp beads up against the knot, and crimp with pliers

9) if the end beads have a large enough hole, slide the cord ends into the end bead, then cut. Otherwise, cut cord ends leaving 1/4 inch on each.

do not stretch, try on, or disturb the bracelet for 24 hours (this is important, trust me! I had just finished the pearl and gold one for one of my daughters, went to try it on my wrist, and all the beads came tumbling off, rolling under furniture, etc. There I was, this middle-aged woman, on my hands and knees, trying to get the beads out from under the stove and fridge. Of course I hadn't done the crimp beads yet either. That could explain part of it, but still, do not disturb!)

10) add charms, if desired, right over the knot.
This is where the pliers come in, to open up the jump ring on the charm.  Grab the jump ring with one set of pliers, on one side of the opening, and use the other set of pliers to put on the jump ring on the other side of the opening. Twist your hands (and pliers) away from each other. This will open the jump ring. Slide the charm onto the bracelet, then close the jump ring in the same fashion, twisting the ring with the pliers back into position.  Some charms do come with the jump ring already pried open.

*note* I did have a bit of difficulty threading the glass pearls. When the manufacturer coated them in enamel, it partially closed up some of the holes. This was quickly remedied with a sewing needle, so no big deal, just a heads up.
blue and white ceramic beads, interspersed
with silver beads, and silver Chinese coin charm
As you can see, the basic technique is the same for all the bracelets shown. It's the selection of beads that give each its own unique style.  (And that's the fun part, IMO, selecting the beads.)

I've shopped for beads at both Michael's and Jo-Ann's Fabric and Craft. I prefer the selection at Jo-Ann's, but that's a personal thing. Also, I get more coupons to Jo-Ann's, than I do Michael's. Using coupons, and shopping sales, these bracelets cost from $2.75 to $7 a piece.

pink and purple opaque and transparent glass beads
with silver seed beads, and silver heart charm
These bracelets have made nice gifts for just about all the girls and women on my gift-giving list this spring. I added a couple to my daughters' Easter Baskets, I gave one to my step-mom for Mother's Day, and I've given several to my sister and friends for birthdays.

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