June 30, 2009

The anatomy of a Cluster Bracelet

One day I was looking at all the beads that were accumulating in my craft room and noticed that I had ALOT of lime green beads. I originally bought them for this project, but never really sold enough of the item to justify having as many green beads as I (optimistically) purchased! Looking at my massive supply, I got an idea for a bracelet that would not only look fun, but also help me use up the daunting supply of beads! The result: my Green with Envy Cluster Bracelet. Though I was happy with the end product, I was even more happy with it's reception! The item sold right away, and soon thereafter people were asking me to post it again! I was hesitant at first since it took me 2 full nights to make the cluster bracelet, but, seeing how many of these beads I still had laying around, I caved and listed it again. And again. And again. This time around, I figured it would be a good opportunity to show the steps behind the bracelet, since I think it looks more complicated than it really it! Hopefully this can inspire you to make something new with materials laying around your craft space, too! First I had to empty out my Beadsmith design board (it's amazing how I allow stray beads to accumulate on this thing!). I really like this extra long felted workspace as it allows me to see all my supplies for any given project while keeping them organized. It also works as a tape measure and ruler, which I will admit I don't use as often as I just eye things :) I bought all these green beads from a variety of sources, including a flea market in Beijing, Michael's, Beadnicks, and Ritual Adornments in Santa Monica... 5 types of seed beads, several shell beads, glass beads, and even some green pearl beads. I wired each bead on bright silver Beadalion stringing wire. All each of these tools (crimp tool, nose pliers, cutting pliers, bent chain nose pliers, flat nose pliers) came in handy, too, as you will see below!
I first cut a 7" piece of Beadalion wire. To secure its end, I put a 2mm crimp bead (image 1) on one end and looped in through itself (image 2). Then I took my crimp pliers (image 3) and flattened the crimp bead until it was secure and tight on the wire. The loop will later serve as a means to connect the strand to the ending clasp. (sorry about the blurry images - I was working on my ottoman in my poorly-lit living room!) Next was the most tedious part - beading (image 5) 15 of these strands! Thankfully my husband was close at hand to help me pick up many of the beads I accidentally dropped - those little seed beeds can be frisky! I ended each strand the same way I started them with a loop and a crimp bead (image 6).
Next I needed to create a means to hold all the strands together. Since I was going to use a long bead cap at the end, I couldn't just end with a standard jump ring. I therefore decided to make my own jump ring with some 22 gauge silver wire. I started by taking my nose pliers and clasping the wire toward the bottom of the head.
Next I turned the pliers 360 degrees until I had a bit of a circle at the end of the wire.
Nice, smooth end - but I needed to even the remaining wire out.
I took the same pliers and forced the remaining wire to turn 90 degrees. The result: a perfect eyepin (these things can sell for $.25 each - how much more fun to just make them yourself!
Next I took the 15 strands of green assorted beads and strategically (in terms of texture and color) ordered and strung them on the headpin.
I took my nose pliers and smushed the end of the eye pin together so the strands can't go anywhere. Stay put, little guys!
After repeating the process on the other end, I was ready to attach the bead caps and toggle clasp.
I got these filigree bead caps at Michael's for $.50 each. Bead Caps are great for covering up ugly finishings and ends!
I cut off the extra wire I didn't need, leaving about 3/4 an inch of wire in which I would create my end loop.
My nose pliers finished the eye loop.
After making the eye loop, I opened it up with my flat nose pliers in order to get the toggle clasp on.
I used the same flat nose pliers to smush both sides of the eye loop back together and thus secure the toggle clasp.
Repeat on the other end. Viola! The super fun finished product! I might just have to wear it for the day before I send it to it's buyer, my buddy Nilsa! (Thanks again for your patience with this product, friend, you're the best!)


  1. I love this. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  2. I can see why these sell out!! I love a bold and pretty bracelet! Thanks for your tutorial and sharing how you craft one of your creations!

    I hear ya on working in a living room without great lighting! Our living room has been getting darker and darker and darker for awhile now....it finally dawned on my to replace my fifteen year old halogen!!! (We've updated our furniture....but not our lighting....a little bit at a time! :>)

    Have a blast at SYTYCD!! (I'm hoping for a report back! {wink, wink} :>

  3. This is one of my all time favorite products of yours. Nice to see the step by step.

  4. Great piece and wonderful step by step illustrations, awesome job!!

  5. Wow! I want to try this! This is great! Thank you!!!

  6. Wonderful choice of colour. I adore green.

    Thanks for sharing the tutorial, its great seeing step by step how things are made.

  7. I love to wear bracelets...I'm heading over to your shop to check these out! Happy July ~Natalie

  8. And you KNOW I was reading this post with anticipation - is she doing this tutorial AND making me a bracelet? Hooray that you got two for the price of one (a blog post and a jewelry sale!). And I can't wait to wear it, especially if it's laced with an extra dose of your love from wearing it for the day!!! =)