As the title suggests, today I will be discussing those decorative bits and pieces which can be made from beads, pasta and the fascinating objects which lurk in the bottom of the workbasket or around the house.
These can all be fashioned into pretty articles which will be welcome as presents or for sale to raise money for a thousand-and-one good causes.
However, workmanship must be careful and good, or the results will be like Betty MacDonald's "toe-covers", simply bought for charity and put away until the next rummage sale comes around.
Keep reading to find more ideas for using beads, not simply for jewelry, but also for trimming lampshades, making a simple glued bead picture, and for a curtain.
Cheap Trick: It is usually cheaper to buy strings of beads. and check out your local rummage sales, or second hand store for interesting and usable strings of beads. After you find your treasures, break them up for re-use. It'll save on the cost of buying them in packets.
The large, handsome hand-made beads, usually seen in glass or ceramic are very decorative but can be rather expensive to buy.
Try making your own for large projects, such as, a curtain out of self-hardening clay.
Incise the beads before the clay sets, using a knife or modeling tool, then dip, spay or paint to color.
Curtain Ring Jewelry
Use a crochet hook to work around curtain rings with metallic or colored threads to make beautiful jewelry and belts. Link the rings with ribbon.
More unlikely materials for jewelry making and decorative work are; pasta, orange peel and grains such as rice, dried peas, lentils, etc.
Orange peel and grapefruit peel, if carefully pared from the fruit and cut to shape, can be slowly dried in a warm (not hot) place and end up with a texture of leather.
The peel can then be lacquered or painted to preserve and beautify it, and then made into belts, jewelry, etc.
Uncooked pasta and grains may also seem an unlikely craft material, but when firmly stuck on jewelry mounts in well-thought-out designs, then either painted or clear lacquered, they too can be very attractive. (If you are a mother, you know the joy of getting your first picture made from macaroni).
Pasta and grains are not too fragile to be worn, as you might think, But, the secret is to use an epoxy resin glue for extra strength.
Pasta is also much better if it is colored, make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies. To do this it is advisable to use an aerosol spray paint.
The subtle colors of rice, lentils, split peas, etc. look beautiful with no added color and very pretty mosaic-type brooches can be made from them.
If you are lucky enough to inherit a button-box (some of the buttons above were in mine), you can use some of the contents in embroidery, in much the same way as beads.
Given a selection of mother-of-pearl buttons, now rather hard to find in the stores, you can decorate cushions, covered boxes etc, in similar patterns to the ones show in the illustration.
Formal designs, combined with lace and braid trimming look very effective.
Failing mother-of-pearl, any small buttons may be used to form designs and you can try your hand at something representational - say a simple flower pattern, or perhaps a Christmas tree wall hanging to bring out at the appropriate time of year.
Just a Couple Patterns Beads Can Be Used For
Make Orange Peel Jewelry - Necklace, Earrings & Pendant
- Fresh orange or grapefruit peel
- Small star & half-moon cookie cutters
- Gold & silver paint
- Jump rings
- 2 earring mounts
- Leather cord
- Fine skewer - Jewelry pliers - Epoxy resin glue
It seems hard to imagine that orange or grapefruit peel could make attractive jewelry, but, in fact, if cut to shape and dried slowly it gives a very handsome effect of textured leather.
This can be left in its natural orange or yellow and painted with colorless lacquer, or sprayed in any color you wish.
Note: Both the textured and plain sides of the peel should be painted to preserve it.
To Make the Moon & Stars
- Carefully cut the peel from several grapefruit and/or oranges into quarters and remove from the fruit. (You will be able to eat a healthy fruit salad afterwards!)
- Using small star shaped and half moon shaped cutters, cut out a number of 'moons' and 'stars' from the peel.
- Make sure to cut out more shapes than you will eventually need, for some of them may dry imperfectly or be twisted.
- Note that the shapes will dry about one third smaller than the original cut size.
- At one tip of each star and moon, pierce a hole with the skewer to take a jump ring.
- Spread the cut peel on a tray and leave in a warm (not hot) place to dry for several days.
- When the pieces are the texture of firm leather, spray or paint the stars silver and the moons gold on each side.
To Make the Necklace
- Insert an opened jump ring into an alternate number of shapes (say 4 moons and 3 stars), beginning and ending with a moon.
- Take a 15" length of leather cord and fasten the moons and stars to it (textured side is the right side), clipping the jump rings around it firmly with the pliers.
- The shapes should be in the center of the length of leather cord and about 3/4" apart.
- Tie leather cord around neck at back.
To Make the Earrings
- For each, you will need one moon and one star.
- Link two jump rings together and on one fix a star and on the other a moon.
- Make sure that you have two moons which will lie facing each other with the jump ring holes at the bottom, so that you can make a matching pair of earrings.
- Repeat for the other earring.
- On the back of each moon glue an earring mount, placed so that the moon will follow the curve of the ear and the star will hang down.
- You may have a peel segment left over with decorative shapes cut out.
- Dry this too, and if it looks attractive, turn it into a large pendant by painting and hanging it on a chain or leather cord.
Pasta Necklace, Bracelet & Ring
- Uncooked pasta of your choice (Shells, Corkscrew, Bow Ties)
- 2 earring mounts
- Ring mount
- Necklace with flat hanging mount
- Epoxy resin glue
- Enamel paints in blue & gold
- Fine paint brushes
Uncooked pasta makes attractive jewelry and, provided a strong glue such as epoxy resin is used and the pasta is painted or varnished to preserve it, it will last well.
The best part? When you get tired of any particular design, simply pick off the pasta and re-use the mount.
To Make the Necklace
- Select well-shaped and unbroken pasta shells, matched in size as close as possible.
- Lay the necklace down on a flat surface and place the pasta all around the edge of the mount with the pints (corner edge) of the 'shells' projecting over the edge.
- Have ready the tiny seed-like acini di pepe in a small saucer.
When you are satisfied with the arrangement of the shells, remove them and coat the mount with a thin layer of epoxy resin glue.
For this purpose, it is better not to use the very quick-setting type or you may find that it starts to harden before you have finished placing the pasta.
- Carefully pick up the shell pieces one by one and replace on the glued mount, pressing each one down lightly.
- Sprinkle a layer of acini di pepe to give a knobbly texture in the center of the mount.
- Leave in a warm place to dry.
- When completely set, paint over the whole of the mount with gold paint - or spray it if preferred.
- When dry, the necklace is ready to wear.
To Make the Ring
- Choose two well-shaped pieces of uncooked ravioli and stick them one over the other as shown in the photograph above.
- Allow to dry.
- Paint over both in gold and when the gold paint is dry, edge the top piece of ravioli in dark blue - or any other color you prefer.
- When dry, stick on a ring mount and leave to set.
To Make the Earrings
Take two earring mounts with as large mounting pads as possible and choose two pieces of creste di galli pasta.
Glue these to the earring mounts, be careful to do this in such a way, that when they are worn, the pasta follows the curve of the ear on each side.
When the glue is set, paint the inner part of the pasta gold, allow to dry, then paint the outer 'crinkled' edge in dark blue to complete.
Try experimenting with other pasta shapes and colors to make a variety of exotic and unusual jewelry.
Beaded Velvet Choker & Bracelet
You Will Need:
- Velvet ribbon 1 inch wide
- 15½ inches for choker
- 8½ inches for bracelet
- 2 curtain rings 1 inch in diameter
- Selection of beads in various sizes
- Thick, sparkly yarn
- Sewing thread - Needle - Snap
Velvet ribbon, a few beads and two curtain rings are all that you need to make this party going set.
Figure 1 shows how beads are arranged for the choker.
To Make the Choker
- First measure your neck and allow 1¼" for hems and overlap.
- Cut ribbon to size, turn ½' to wrong side at each end and hem.
- Knot one end of the sparkly yarn to one of the curtain rings.
- Figure 2 shows how to cover the ring with the yarn.
- When ring is covered, tuck the spare ends of yarn through the back of the loops on the wrong side.
- Sew covered ring to center of choker, catching it down firmly in four places and making sure the stitches do not show.
- Next arrange your beads in order, using Figure 1 as a guide.
- To stop the beads rolling about, lay them on a spare piece of velvet ribbon or piece of rough-textured fabric.
- Sew beads carefully onto ribbon, making sure stitches do not show.
- When complete, sew on snap.
To Make the Bracelet
- Measure your wrist and, allowing 1¼" for hem and overlap, cut ribbon to size.
- Make as for choker, but use slightly fewer beads to compensate.
Beautiful Beaded Butterfly Picture
You Will Need:
- Cardboard - 9½ inches x 6 inches
- Piece of felt - 12 inches x 9inches
- Strong, clear household glue
- Tracing Paper - Pencil
- Assortment of colored beads
- Picture Frame - 10 inches x 7 inches
Beads do not only belong on a necklace!
This Butterfly Picture is just one of the ways their glitter and sheen can be put to attractive uses; and birds, flowers or fish would all make suitable subjects.
- Place cardboard centrally on a piece of felt and spread glue thinly on the edges.
- Fold in corners neatly, fold over edges and stick down on cardboard.
- Draw pattern shown in illustration full size on tracing paper, lay on the felt-covered cardboard and run over the design outline with a sharp point to leave an impression on the fabric.
- Select the beads you want to use for making the butterfly, but do not begin to stick any down until you have assembled them all.
- Squeeze a small amount of clear glue on to the point of the pin. Transfer on to a bead, place in position on fabric,
- Using tweezers if you find it easier with small beads, and press lightly until stuck down. Continue until design is complete, then frame.
Interesting Beaded Lampshade
- Fabric-covered Lampshade
- Selection of Beads to Match or Contrast
- Needle and Thread
Any fabric lampshade can be given an individual look with the addition of a hand-sewn bead fringe and some bead embroidery.
The picture is a Tiffany lampshade in a pretty green and white patterned fabric with the white silk fringe which edged it removed.
Looking at the fabric design, it was easy to pick out certain points that could be emphasized all the way around by sewing on beads.
Pearl, gold and silver beads are used for this purpose.
It is necessary, when sewing beads on a lampshade, to sew them individually or in close groups, finishing off the thread for each one or each group.
If you take the tread along the back of the fabric for any distance, it will show as a line when the lamp is lit up.
If your fabric is plain, lightly mark a simple motif around the shade and sew on beads to outline it.
The illustration is an easy pattern outline.
Making the Fringe
If you have a good deal of patience, you can make a fine bead fringe, using tiny seed beads threaded on lengths of fine thread.
Child Safe Beaded Curtain
The bead curtain in the photograph measures 24 inches x 16 inches, but you can make it to any size to fit any particular window.
Not only is it decorative, but it has a practical use too.
If fitted flush to the inside wall of a window recess, it would discourage small children from climbing onto the sill and trying to open an upstairs window.
The beads are homemade and instructions on how to make them are to follow.
What You Will Need
- 2 pieces of 3/8 inch thick wood 24 inches long, 1½ inches wide
- 2 pieces of 3/8 inch thick wood 16 Inches long 1½ inches wide
- 4¾ inches long, 3/16 inch wide machine screws with nuts
- String - Beads - Screw-in Ring Hooks
- Drill & Saw
- Claps or Vice
- Self-hardening clay - Paint
- Thick knitting needles
To Make the Frame
- Take one of the 24 inch lengths of wood.
- At one end, on the wide face, draw a line 1½ inches from the end.
- Now cut out this 1½ inch square to half the thickness of the wood.
- Repeat this cut on the same side at the other end of the wood.
- Cut the other 24 inch piece of wood in the same way.
- Repeat the process on the two shorter pieces of wood.
- Now drill the holes for the screws.
- Assemble the frame and hold it steady in a vice or with two clamps.
- Drill a hole through both pieces of wood at center of joint.
- Repeat at each corner.
- Screw the corners together like it shows in Figure 1.
Inserting the Ring Hooks
- Having made your frame, mark positions for the ring hooks.
- The closer these are together, the closer will be your mesh and the more beads you will need.
- The hooks may be as close or as far apart as desired, but you must have an even number of hooks down the sides and an odd number across the top and bottom.
- Side hooks should align, as should those at top and bottom.
- The top and bottom side hooks should align with the horizontal rows of hooks as seen in Figure 2.
To String the Frame
- Use double strands of string to give the webbing a substantial appearance.
- You may prefer one thick strand or two thinner strands in contracting colors.
- To avoid confusion, each combination (whether you use two thin strands or one thick strand) is referred to as a stringing. (see Figure 3)
- Turn the frame bottom edge uppermost.
- For the center hook you will need two stringing's (i.e. two thick or four thing strands).
- These should be twice the depth of the frame.
- Knot them firmly together and unravel the short ends to give a tassel effect.
- Thread through the hook with the tassel to the front.
- Thread two stringing's through all other hooks except the outer ones, which have one stringing each.
- Extend the length of each stringing by the distance of the hook concerned from the center hook.
- You are now ready to thread row 1.
- Following Figure 4, thread one bead on strings 1A & 2A, the next on 2B & 3A, the next on 3B & 4A, and so on, threading the last bead on 8B & 9A.
- Commence row 2 by threading 1A through a side hook. Next thread a bead on 2A & 2B, the next on 3A & 3B, and so on, threading the last bead on 8A & 8B.
- Thread 9A through a side hook.
- Continue threading all odd rows as row 1 and even rows as row 2 until you reach end of curtain.
After the last row (an odd row) thread the strings through the base rings as for row 2.
To Finish the Curtain
- Pull all the strings to the center and secure firmly around all the strands.
- Turn the frame right way up and align the beads neatly, starting with the top row.
- Tighten stringing if necessary, then trim ends neatly.
- The curtain shown is hung from the tassel.
- If you prefer the tassel at the bottom, commence stringing from top of frame.
To Make Your Own Beads
- Although you can buy attractive beads for making your curtain, it is great fun to make your own.
- You will need some self-hardening clay, the amount depending on how many beads you are going to make.
- The large beads in the photograph are about 1" in diameter, the smaller ones ½".
- Take an appropriately-sized piece of clay and roll it around in your fingers until you have an approximate ball shape.
- The easiest way to make the hole is to use a thick knitting needle.
- You will need two or three needles of the same size.
- Make sure the holes you are making will take the thickness of the thread you are going to use.
- Thread the clay bead centrally onto the needle and mold into a round bead, or elongated shape if you prefer.
- Damp the clay with water if necessary.
- Push the bead gently to the knob end of the needle.
- Go on making beads in this way and threading them on the needles, until you have enough. When one knitting needle is full, stand it in a jar or tin.
- When the beads are completely dry, leave them on the needle and paint with one or two coats of gloss paint.
- Return, on the needle, to the jar or tin to dry thoroughly.
I hope you have enjoyed the many things you can do with baubles, bangles and beads.
Use your creativity to make different designs, and most of all, have fun!
Thanks for stopping by & Happy Crafting!
© 2012 Dawn
Jacobb9205 on February 10, 2015:
Thank you for the tutorial!
Fiona from South Africa on December 18, 2013:
There are some great ideas here - I would never have thought of using orange peel for beading. I have to admit that I thought that the pasa jewellery would look a bit cheesy but it looked rather nice. Voted up.
Better Yourself from North Carolina on December 02, 2012:
Fun hub! I love these ideas - I never would have thought of orange/grapefruit peel for making jewelry. Thanks for sharing!