20 August 2013

Tutorial: How to make simple bead bracelets (with a toddler)

Pony bead bracelet

The Wee Lass and I recently spent a fascinating (to use her word) afternoon making some bead string jewellery. Our method is easy for a toddler to do nearly independently. Given the small size of the beads, use your common sense if your child is ready to do an activity like this or not. Share pictures of your creations in my flickr group.

-cord elastic
-plastic "pony" beads
-small dish or container for the beads

Of course you can make bead bracelets with just about any string-like material and anything with a hole in it (macaroni necklaces are a classic!), but these materials are easy and appealing to use. The cord elastic is stiffer than twine, yarn, or string, meaning it's easier to thread a bead onto and because it's stretchy, you won't need any fasteners.

"Pony" beads come in a variety of fun colours, they are inexpensive, and they have large holes, making them easy for a toddler to thread onto the cord.

Step 1: Measure
Measure a length of the elastic that fits appropriately for a bracelet or necklace, then add a couple inches extra for tying it together at the end. It's better to have it a bit too long and trim the excess after you tie the knot than to struggle with tying it off.

Step 2: Set it up
Tie a slip knot in one end, using up at least 1 inch. You want to "save" some of the elastic so you have some free to tie it up with at the end. I also put a safety pin through the elastic by the knot to ensure no beads can slip off.

Step 3: Hand it over
At this point, it's ready for your small person to start stringing beads.

If they're doing a long string, you might add a safety pin part way through the beading process to ensure the beads already on won't slip off if they pick it up from the wrong end. I think losing some beads is inevitable. The Wee Lass was pretty zen about re-doing her work, but I can imagine some toddlers might have a meltdown if they dump off their whole string by accident. Just pin through the fabric elastic casing near the current top bead.

Step 4: Tie it up
Once they get to about an inch or two from the end, it's time to tie it off. Undo the slip knot in the bottom of the string and remove any safety pins. Holding the two ends together, stretch the elastic a bit and tie a knot as close as you can to the beads. Double check the size and then snip off the tails if they're too long.

bracelet and necklace by The Wee Lass

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.