Ever since I painted my Janis Joplin portrait, I've wanted to do this DIY. No one wore hippie love beads quite like she did. A traditional hippie accessory, Love Beads are long, handmade strings of beads worn by both guys and girls in the 1960's. The trend is thought to have evolved from the generation's fascination to non-Western cultures such as India and Native America.
What You Need:
• Beading Wire
• Flat-nose Jewelry Plyers
• Crimp Beads
• Jump Ring, Connector Charm, or Clasp
• Lots of Beads!
I made two strands of Love Beads for this project- One I strung beads in a fun pattern and another I used random multicolor beads together. I like the way both turned out.
To make a strand of Love Beads, I first like to organize my beads in teacups or small bowls. This way I grab the ones I need easily and organize my colors. All the beads you see here I bought second hand.
Here are my tips for finding and collecting beads:
• Thrift stores & garage sales- When thrifting I always look for clothes that have beads on them that I can easily cut off and use for jewelry projects. Some thrift stores also have craft supply sections where you can find bags of random beads. If you live in Portland, my favorite place to go is the Knittin' Kitten, a craft supply thrift store on NE Glisan.
• Friends & family- Ask around! You never know who might have a box of beads sitting in their closet leftover from their beading phase 10 years ago.
• Broken/old jewelry- Whenever a necklace or earring breaks or falls apart, I always save the remnants to recreate into something new!
To get started, first cut your beading wire to length. I wanted my necklaces to be super long (just like Janis Joplin), so I cut mine 54 inches long, leaving a few extra inches for tying off the finished strand.
Next I started stringing on beads. If you want to make a pattern, I like to start in the middle of the necklace and use both ends of the string to add beads in my desired pattern. This method is dangerous though! The more beads you string on, the heavier the necklace gets, and the easier it is to drop your ends and lose your beads!
Creating the random multicolor bead pattern is a bit easier as you can tie off one end of your string. I recommend using tape because it's easy to take off when you're ready to finish your ends and it won't kink or untie itself (which is what happens when you try to tie a knot in beading wire).
Once you've completed our strand of beads, it's time to finish the ends. I used two crimp beads (which you can find at any craft or bead store) and a small heart connector bead. Crimp beads are small metal cylinders that hold a doubled cord securely when you flatten or crimp them with pliers. You can use anything you like to connect your ends together. Since my necklace was so long, I didn't need to use a clasp. You could also use a simple jump ring if you don't have any connector beads on hand.
Finishing your Love Beads:
• After you've finished stringing your necklace, place a single crimp bead on the end of the strand and a clasp, connector, or jump ring.
• Slip the wire tail back through the crimp bead and then through the next several beads. Tug the wire so it's taut, with no gaps between beads or at the end.
• Firmly crimp the bead closed using flat-nose pliers. Clip off the end of the wire close to the beads so the end tucks back in and won't scratch your skin.
Wear your love beads with your favorite hippie/retro outfit or give them away to friends!
Thank you to Lindsay Jewell for her amazing photography skillz. This book has everything you need to know about making jewelry.