Category Archives: Projects-Beads

Clownfish Earrings (or, Toys on Wire)

Amongst my stable of crafty things to make are pendants and earrings out of toys. For Christmas, I made a My Little Pony pendant for my roommate’s daughter. (I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but she is actually in their demographic). What I made for her was from an Applejack figurine but it was similar in execution to this one:

MLP Pendant

You can use basically any small plastic toy, as long as you can poke a hole in it. Be careful that it isn’t too heavy, or it will pull on the wire or your ears.

I found the clownfish  toys at the toy store for about $0.50. The My Little Pony was in one of those foil packets which you can’t see what you are getting and cost more like $3 (They’ve moved on to glitter versions of the ponies, and I’m not sure how to prevent those from shedding glitter everywhere).

Here is more of a break-down.

  Clownfish Earrings

Clown Fish EarringsYou need:

  • 2 soft rubber clownfish toys
  • 2 lengths 24 gauge wire or slightly thicker (maybe 4.5 – 5 inches each, and that sounds generous, but you want more to work with rather than less)
  • 4 blue seed beads  (mine are in three different shades)
  • 2 jump rings (I wrapped mine around a wooden chopstick — apparently it was not round…)
  • 2 ear wire thingies

To keep the lower bead from falling off, make a little spiral in the end of the wire. Load a bead onto the wire.

With a thick needle, poke a hole through the fish where the wire should go. Carefully thread a length of wire with a bead on it through the hole in the fish. <—- this part can be quite frustrating, especially if the wire you are using is soft, as mine was. Be patient, and don’t try to force it.

Once the fish are threaded on their wires, load the other bead on top of the fish. Make a wrapped loop above the bead and trim the excess wire.

Attach the ear wire with the jump ring. Ta-da! Fish ears!


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My Very Own Wire Link Necklace

Wire_Chain_NecklaceMy roommate and her mother and I took a couple days and went to the coast. Their stated purpose was to make some beaded necklaces to sell. I don’t sell them, and beyond some jewelry mending, I had no jewelry planned out.

I remembered an antique wire necklace belonging to my mother. It’s bright antique green beads on silver wire. I had neither silver wire nor antique green beads, but I had a light copper colored wire and boxes and boxes of beads.

I used pink cultured pearls, light green faceted beads (with a bit of AB finish) and some dark pink glass beads I fished out of a bead mix. The wire was some 22 gauge wire ( I think) I bought for some other project. The wire bends a bit, whenever I tried to take the necklace off, so I will use something more sturdy next time.

At first I made the necklace of just the long links about 3/4 the length of my first finger. The end of each length of wire I made a wrapped loop. I connected them with homemade jump rings.  I turned each loop to face the same direction. I have no idea if this would have made a difference, but it made me feel better. The loops were wrapped similar to this tutorial, except I didn’t have the bent-nose pliers and had to wrap my wire by hand (my fingers were very sore afterwards).

The jump rings were made by wrapping the wire around a q-tip, (after I realized  I would never be able to get it off, I cut off the fluffy bit) and generally made them like these jump rings,  Though I was not concerned at the time (though I perhaps should have been) about making the ends of the wire flush.

It turned out a bit a short and stiff (most of it is made of lengths of wire). I added another, shorter link (the pink bead link, about the length of my fingernail) and it became a claspless necklace I can loop twice over my head.

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Copper Earrings

I made these earrings in the middle of April. I was going to give them away, but I didn’t like the workmanship (you can see the threads too well), so I didn’t give them away.

Red Stone and Copper Earrings

Red Stone and Copper Earrings

They are constructed with two sizes of copper beads (2 3mm, and 10 4mm), two silver donut-shaped beads, a twisted red jasper (I think), a jump ring, thin beading thread, and a ear wire.

The top part is the daisy chain stitch.  On the longer of the two tails I stacked a 3mm copper bead, a silver donut, and the twisted stone bead. at the bottom is three 4mm copper beads. I then threaded the tail back up the way I’d come until I go to the second tail, where, for lack of anything better to do, I tied a knot (with  dab of glue). I had to jam a jump ring in the top bead to attach the ear wires — not only difficult but probably weakened the thread too.

I like the design, but I need to work the kinks out, so they look more polished.

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Beaded Rope

I finally gave in.

I was going to use beading as an incentive to finish my linen embroidery, as in: once the linen centerpiece is done, I can start a beading project.


I’m at the cutting stage and I want very good natural light to make sure it goes well (those threads are small). I rarely get home from work soon enough to take advantage of the light. So while I was going quietly mad, pudding off the itch to fool around with some beads, and since I have two beading books from the library, I started these:

Beaded Ropes

Beaded Ropes

They are fairly simple to make, but take some patience and a little attention.

I got my instructions from The Pattern Companion: Beading, by Ann Benson, Gay Bowles, Valerie Campbell-Harding, Jane Davis, Elizabeth Gourley, Ellen Talbott, and Carol Wilcox Wells. In the interests of linkability, and because other people can explain better than me, the instructions here are basically the same.(From All about Jewellery Making). My examples above, have a larger bead core (like 8/0) with 11/0 as the spiral. The book had several

The attention part comes in because these have to be kept neatly taut or the spiral starts to slip. Maybe it was the super thin thread I was using (Nymo 00, I think. I had an excess). These were test pieces, but I’m thinking I might makes one of these for a present (not saying for who! Not yet!) with a thicker thread. They have an attractive weight about them and they drape nicely.

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Netted Bead Necklace, Part 2

I finally found the book that I got the stitches for this necklace:

Blue Netted Necklace

Blue Netted Necklace

The book is The Pattern Companion: Beading, by Ann Benson, Gay Bowles, Valerie Campbell-Harding, Jane Davis, Elizabeth Gourley, Ellen Talbott, and Carol Wilcox Wells. I think it’s a compliation of many different works, hence the many authors.

Basically, this necklace is composed of a pair of chevron chains. To attach them, they share a line of beads on a bottom and a top. Online instructions for a basic chevron chain can be found at Bead It, Babe!, on this page.

A Closer look at the necklace:

Blue Net Detail

Blue Net Detail

Variations can be made on the chain to yield different looks. I used two rows of chevron chain, stacked. The top row has four shared beads in a column, with two in between. The bottom row shares three beads, two on the top (one of light and dark blue, of you look closely), with two to separate and a picot on the bottom row of beads. Once you master the basic chain, making alterations to the pattern is very easy. Actually talking about it, and conceiving it is much harder than actually doing it.

The rows share a base, except where I split them.  It didn’t hang like i wanted so I stitched between them with the blue and ill-considered gold beads. You can see those columns in the upper portion of the picture. along the top of the top chain I added another row of beads to squinch in the inner row and make the necklace curve. Those aren’t part of the chevron chain, but a later edition. I added the glass blue drops and “gold” beaded daisies as a last touch.

Here is a simpler bead collar I did with a similar technique:

Pink Net

Pink Net

Unfortunately the stop – bead technique that worked so well with the silk thread in the blue necklace didn’t hold as well with the thinner Superlon thread. You can see the decay if you look near the clasp.

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Golden (And Otherwise) Beads

As an addendum to Saturday’s post, I thought I’d show you what the golden beads looked like when new:


Golden Beads

Quite a difference, no?

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Netted Bead Necklace, Part 1

About a year ago, I needed an outfit to attend two weddings. Failing to find a suitable dress, I decided to make my outfit. I made a 1950’s inspired pink shantung dress  with a blue sash and a blue necklace to go with it. I was never too pleased with the dress’s fit, but the necklace I liked:

Blue Netted Necklace

Blue Netted Necklace

You will notice that there are some brownish beads at the points, in the vertical section and below the large blue drops.

These used to be bright gold.

What I didn’t know when I made the necklace was that not all beads are made equal. These came in a canister and they were cheap — turned out they were not a such a bargain after all.

Apparently galvanized finishes wear off (or chip off in this case) very easily, especially when you wear the necklace in Maine in the summer (and sweat!)

When I tried to use these beads in other projects, I barely got past the first few rows before the color was coming off. Sometimes I think wear adds to the look of the piece, but in this case, the blues need the bright gold. And with these beads the gold is still coming off. I try to make things that will last awhile (a sort of rebellion against disposable culture, I guess) out of real materials. When the necklace was new, it looked like an homage to Queen Nefertiti, but now, it’s kind of sad looking. Not that I’ll stop wearing it. I considered making it over – but since I have so much else to do, It will have to fall apart before I’m motivated to go back to it.

Here you can see the unfortunate beads a little better:

Showing the "Gold" Beads.

Showing the "Gold" Beads

So lesson learned: buy the more expensive materials when you can.

Incidentally, this is the same necklace that my cat is wearing in the header.

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