I’ve been accumulating so many craft supplies over the years. Some of it is well travelled and some of it was waiting here in boxes for us to return for a decent amount of time. As I unpacked those boxes, I got rid of so much stuff, but I can never bring myself to throw out craft supplies. There is just so much potential to make something that someone will like…
My inexhaustible bead collection is a prime example. After a year of looking at it just sit there collecting dust, I finally got an idea of what I’d like to make. I’ve called it the block and chain necklace.
I had a few chains lying around – copper, brass and silver – lovely things to work with. I wanted to create long necklaces that are mostly chain with a feature string of beads added.
I’ve already made a few to sell or wear, but I thought today I might do a tutorial on how to make such a necklace yourself. The best thing about these is that they can be very classy or cute or kitsch and they still work. Miss K. is a great connoisseur of these kinds of things and she particularly likes the more chunky, colourful ones.
I think this would be a really wonderful activity with older children, but let’s think about ourselves for once – what would you like yours made from? Favourite stones? Will you splash out on some silver?
Here is what you will need:
a length of chain 40cm (16in) or longer
Tiger Tail – about 10-20cm (4-8in)
2 crimps to match your chain
beads of choice – enough for about 20cm (8in)
small wire cutters (or some old scissors)
flat nose pliers
The beads, crimps and tiger tail might lead you to a bead shop. It would be a good idea to ask them to show you how to use crimps or for you to do a youtube search as it’s rather hard to explain and photograph as I have found out…
Actually, you can get beads in many places. My favourite is going to an op shop or a bulk semi-prescious stone store. Many things can also be made into beads with a drill.
Once you have your materials assembled, you can start.
Thread Tiger Tail into one end of your chain and secure it in place by using the flat nose pliers on a crimp. Leave an extra centimetre or so of Tiger Tail to thread into the first and maybe second bead along with the main length, otherwise it can end up poking into you and being mighty uncomfortable (be aware that some small beads don’t have big enough holes to do this). Have look carefully at the photo below; under where the flat nose pliers are, is the main length of chain as well as a small amount for the purpose above (both these pass through the crimp that was squished by the pliers).
Now measure off the Tiger Tail to the desired length. Let it hang a little lower than usual I reckon. Make sure you can fit the whole thing over your head as there will be no clasp to undo. Add 5cm (2in) to the desired length and cut the Tiger Tail. For example, if you want your beads to span 20cm, cut the Tiger Tail at 25cm so you have enough room to attach the other end to the chain. Again, make sure this will fit over your head!
Thread your chosen beads onto the Tiger Tail. You should have about 5cm (2in) of Tiger Tail left sticking out once the beads are threaded on. Lastly, thread on your other crimp like a bead, thread the Tiger Tail through the other end of your chain and then through the crimp and first (and maybe second) bead. The picture below is meant to illustrate the rather convoluted instructions I just gave…
You want to pull the Tiger Tail carefully through, so that the crimp is close to both the chain and the beads, but be careful not to make the Tiger Tail too tight that the beads lose their curve. Crimp this in place and cut off the excess Tiger Tail after the first or second bead so that it is hidden inside neatly.
Now it is ready to wear.
I have found that the thing that takes the longest with these necklaces is choosing the right beads, but that is also the fun part.
I’d love to see your block and chain necklaces if you make one. Send links/pics so we can have a look.