Make your own wire and bead Christmas ornaments

You know how “they” say there’s all sorts of beading and wire designs for free on the internet? Well, try to find beautiful, quality, artistic wire and bead Christmas ornament tutorials…I couldn’t find them…well….maybe one or two…

So….for the last few months I’ve been designing some really cool wire and bead Christmas ornaments. The pdf format tutorials are finally done. (all 7 of them!) Plus I’ve designed two free “sample” ornaments. So far I’ve made a free pdf and a free slide show (directions) for one of those.

You probably are aware of ornament kits that include wires that have been soldered or welded together in the center, forming a star or snowflake shape. You just need to slip on the beads to decorate them. I wanted something like them, only more versatile.

The ornaments I’ve designed are in the familiar star or snowflake shape, but they aren’t soldered together. Instead, there’s what I call a “secret” center that’s recycled from a common item most of us would have in our homes. There’s no heat or gluing involved! You can vary the length of the wires , then manipulate them into all sorts of decorative designs. Add a few beads as accents and you’ll have an intricate looking, beautiful mini piece of art.

In keeping with my emphasis on using recycled materials in craft/jewelry items to sell, these Christmas ornaments are a perfect example. It will be easy to vary the beads to add your own personal style to them. You could even include some recycled plastic bag beads in your variations, making them doubly “green”. (you know…my book, Bags to Beads!)

Here are some pictures of the ornaments with “secret” centers. Directions (pdf files) are for sale on my website.

Here’s the free sample ornament. (as you can see, it doesn’t have a “secret” center, hey, it’s free!)

You can download a free pdf here or see the slide show tutorial on youtube here.

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Beaded Knitting Stitch Markers Free Tutorial

I used to knit sweaters for my children all the time. I would even knit matching sweaters for my daughter’s dolls. But as with most kids, once they reached a certain age, they wouldn’t wear anything I made for them. So I stopped knitting and went on to other craft adventures.

Over time, I gave away all my yarn, needles, and knitting supplies. Even most of my patterns. It’s been about 20 years since I’ve knitted anything. But, when my granddaughter arrived this past February, all of a sudden I got the urge to knit. Don’t quite understand it, but I was almost compelled to go out and buy yarn and needles.

I also did a “Google” for knitted infant sweaters and discovered the wonderful world of free knitting patterns to download! (If you’re interested, here are two great links:

What does all this have to do with beads and recycling? While I was shopping for new knitting supplies, I thought to myself how plain and boring the round plastic stitch-markers were and decided to design some colorful beaded ones for myself. After a few trials and errors, I came up with these:

They’re large enough to fit most knitting needles and quite sturdy. You could make the rings smaller for thin needles or larger for giant needles. They’re perfect for using up odds and ends of beads and small pieces of wire. (such as the wire heart and spiral shown in the picture) I’m finding them so fun to make, it’s almost addictive.

If you sell your jewelry creations, these stitch markers would be a good way to add another dimension to your collection. I suggest making them up in sets of 4-6 markers, and displaying them on cards similar to earrings. They should sell quite well and would make lovely gifts and stocking stuffers for knitters.

Here is a free PDF tutorial and a free slide show tutorial on how to make a simple stitch marker. They both contain quite a few photos and detailed instructions. Once you have the basic idea, then you can use your imagination to design your own!

Oh, and one last thing… I couldn’t resist showing off my little granddaughter and her new sweater!

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Napkin Ring Made From Recycled Toilet Paper Packaging

Before I start telling you about the napkin ring, I must tell my news. February 2012 has been a memorable month for me… I have my first grandchild!!!! A beautiful girl.

As my daughter aptly put it, “Our world now weighs 8 pounds”.

Ok…back to recycling…

To keep busy while waiting for Daphne to arrive, I designed a new recycled plastic project. Since I had just designed a coiled ring, I decided to push that theme a little farther by making a napkin ring. Again, I used colored plastic toilet paper packaging, so it works up quickly with no painting or sealing needed.

Instead of using a wire coil for decoration as I did for the ring, I used a large, clear, acrylic bead. After coiling the wire tails around the wire strands on each side of the napkin ring base, I threaded them back up through the colored plastic disk on each side the bead to make the piece stronger and more stable. The wire ends hold the disk in place and prevent it from wobbling from side to side.

recycled plastic napkin ring illustration

Finishing the wire ends with tiny coils covers the holes in the disk and adds an unusual decorative touch. A set of 8 napkin rings would make a lovely gift. They are eco-friendly, inexpensive, and quick to make.

recycled plastic napkin ring

For custom colored disks, make them from ordinary white plastic grocery bags, then paint in any color. Directions for making and painting white disks are in my book, Bags to Beads 

I’ve written a free tutorial for making the napkin ring in PDF format (over 20 photos!) that’s available on my website. Also, there’s a 5 minute youtube slideshow tutorial.  Enjoy!

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Ring from Plastic Toilet Paper Packaging

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything….I have good reasons!

First is was the holidays. It was the first time in 3 long years that our family was all together. I didn’t want to miss a minute, so I put my blog in the background for several weeks. We had so much fun hiking, shopping, cooking, eating, laughing. Just being together. It was the best holiday season we can remember.

Then my lower back went out…oh the pain!!! The my herniated disk decided to join in the fun…oh the pain!!!  The I pulled a muscle in my neck and shoulder…oh the pain…all I could do was lay on the livingroom floor with an ice pack on my back. (I’m allergic to most pain medication.)

Meanwhile, my husband started having serious health problems and ended up with heart surgery. Thank God he’s well on his way to recovery.

With all that stress, my creative juices were non-existent. It has taken several weeks for things to settle down and get back to normal. Well, almost normal…

This week it seemed so good to design something and write a tutorial for it. I decided to start again with something small….a ring. It works up really fast and easy. It’s inexpensive too! You’ll only need to know the basics of plastic grocery bag bead making and basic wire jewelry techniques.

As you can see from the photo, it’s not anything too complicated. What makes this ring special is the bead…it’s made from plastic toilet paper packaging!

recycled plastic bead ring

Notice the little spiral on the side of the bead? Instead of crimping the end of the wire back into the ring body as most tutorials tell you to do, I decided to make a tiny spiral flourish as a finish for the wire. I think it adds a nice touch and co-ordinates with the larger spiral on the bead.

The PDF format tutorial is free, so enjoy and share! I bet if you made up a few of these, they’d sell quite easily. Click here to download the free tutorial.   Update! Here’s a YouTube slide show tutorial for the ring.

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Green Home Business Idea – Selling Plastic Grocery Bag Beaded Items

Have you ever thought of starting a home business? Probably. If you do any type of research about home businesses, you soon find out that there’s a lot of scams, and “pie in the sky” ideas out there. They don’t make money for you, just take your money….

Real, honest-to-goodness home businesses take work, lots of work and attention to detail. They also take a plan, even if it’s a simple plan.

Well, I have an honest-to-goodness home business to suggest…how about selling items that feature beads made with plastic grocery bags?! (Think my book – Bags to Beads)

For the right person, it would be the perfect home business.

  • You can start small without a lot of expense.
  • You don’t need to keep a lot of inventory.
  • The skills you need are easily learned.
  • It’s a “green” business because you’re recycling plastic grocery bags.
  • You can run your business in your spare time.
  • It’s a new and unique idea that usually sells itself. (that’s been my experience…)
  • You will be offering something almost everyone uses or needs.
  • It would be a year-round business. People need gifts all the time.
  • You don’t have to “re-invent the wheel”. There are all sorts of free jewelry tutorials on the internet to give you ideas and get your creative juices flowing. You can incorporate plastic bag beads into them.
  • I have and will be designing items specifically for using plastic bag beads.

I’m sure there are more reasons, but by now you get the picture.

If you’re interested in creating and selling items made with plastic bag beads, here are a few links to get you started:

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more on making and selling plastic bag beads. It would thrill me to help others learn and enjoy making these beads and earn money at the same time.


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10 Gifts in an Altoid Box Finished!

I know it’s been a few days since I posted about my 10 gifts in an altoid box project… you know how busy things can get around the holidays…but, even though I haven’t been posting, I’ve been working on it.

It took a bit of doing, but I finally have tiny beaded gifts that will all fit into an altoid box at the same time. Plus, I decorated the altoid box.

First, here are the 1o beaded gifts:

10 gifts in an altoid box

Starting at the upper left, beaded candle rings (candles not included in the box!), plant pot dangle, tiny photo frame, beaded bookmark, foldable Christmas ornament, beaded wire comb barrette, photo album with a beaded spine, striped magnet, a tube bead pin, and a purple wire wrapped push pin.

It wasn’t easy, but I got them all in! I think the next time I do this, I’ll make the photo frame a little flatter (use flatter beads). It took up the most room. The handmade comb barrette took up quite a bit of space, but it’s so pretty and unusual that it was worth it to me.

10 gifts in an altoid box full

The covered altoid box looks innocent enough….

10 gifts in an altoid box closed

I had a lot of fun designing all these tiny gifts. Learned a lot too. Maybe I’ll write some tutorials on how to make them.

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another update for 10 gifts in an Altoid box.

I spent a relaxing afternoon working on my 10 gifts in an altoid box project. I’ve got 6 gifts done so far.  Only 4 more gifts to design…hope there’s room in the Altoid box, it’s getting quite full.

1: foldable ornament 2: ribbon bookmark 3: small photo frame 4: tiny photo album 5: plant pot decoration 6: hand-made beaded barrette

6 gifts from 10 gifts in an altoid box project

Close-up of the hand-made photo album using recycled paper. (envelopes)

handmade photo album from recycled materials

handmade beaded barrette featuring beads made from plastic grocery bags. the barrette measures about 1 1/2″ (including the beads)

handmade barrette featuring plastic grocery bag beads

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