Fall Fabulous Jewelry Workshop

A few weeks ago I held a jewelry workshop that was quite different than the previous wire wrapping and vintage workshops held in the past.  Bib Necklaces.  They seem to be everywhere this season; found in every chic boutique and around the necks of countless celebrities! This proved a challenge:  how could I create a necklace that was chic, stylish and, oh yeah most importantly… affordable!

I found my inspiration in wooden beads, mostly because they can come in any shape, size, texture, etc.  My inner craft voice (yes I have one, or maybe a few) was telling me to alter these beads to turn them into something glitzy and fabulous!

The workshop was held in our historic Labelle house where 14 brave and creative women showed up to answer my challenge…and boy did they answer it!  These women blew me away with all of their gorgeous  statement necklaces! They even motivated me to create new variations of the bib necklace I had originally created.

Below you will find our supplies, some instructions, photos of the participants’ finished necklaces and earrings and a few sites for other inspiration on this project. Hope you enjoy! Oh, and I would love, love, love to see anyone else who has attemped this project or anything similar.

Happy beading!

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  • Beads! Any shape or material and we used a variety of sizes of wood and some shell chips- 8mm to 3/8 in
  • Beading wire- nylon coated- .018 in/ .46 mm Ours was from Beadalon (Available in a variety of colors)
  • Crimp beads (if you are not sure what size ask the clerk about your project and what thickness of wire and weight of beads it needs to hold. You can always double crimp for added support!
  •  Wire cutters,  a crimping tool or flat nose pliers and round nose pliers (for your earrings)
  • Ear Wires
  • Head pins
  • Paint pens, glitter spray, glitter spray sealer and spray paint
  • lace
  • paint brushes
  • plastic drop cloth (or something to work on with paint)
  • Ruler

I bought a pack of bulk beads that came in 4 different sizes and 3 different colors:  White, A natural finish and dark finish. I took the white and natural finished beads and spray painted them with black spray paint (but not completely) to add a little something extra. Then set out all of the variety of beds to let the participants choose their mix. You can use a variety of patterns which you will see in the examples below. I used a large-small-large for the bigger necklace and used a variety of sizes for the smaller. Find a pattern that is right for you!

  • We used 50 beads in total for the smaller necklace and about 64 for the larger.  Here are the instructions for the small necklace. I think you will be able to figure out how to adjust them if you want to make the larger (red and beige) necklace.

Cut 5 pieces of beading wire.

  • 2 at 12-15 in( depending on the size of your beads) (side strands)
  • 1 at 15-18in (middle strand)
  • 2 at 20in (these are going to be the strands that go around your neck and loop through the top of your necklace. This measurement will vary depending on where you want your necklace to hang on your neck/chest.
  •  1 crimp bead for each of the circle sets (3 in total left, center and right) and 1 or 2 for each strand that goes around your neck to connect the clasps (2 in total or 4 if you want to put double crimps on your necklace to make it extra secure!)

Pick out the beads for your necklace and place them into connecting circle on the table before stringing them. I used 3 circles for my center row and 2 circles that connected on each side- 6 beads per circle. If you wish to paint or add anything extra to the beads- do so now. We placed lace around a bead and used gold and silver paint pens to paint over the lace- putting the beads on the end of a small paint brush to paint seemed to work well.  It didn’t quite make a pattern but it allowed for some gaps and a little texture to be added!

In order for this necklace to sit flat you must connect the necklace in several places i.e.  some beads will complete 2 circles.

  • Start by making your center 3 circles. String 5 beads on to your 18 inch piece of beading wire and when you get to your 6th beads you need to string both strings through the bead in opposite directions (so that the beads form a circle).
  • Start stringing beads on top of the bottom circle to create your next circle. It should look like a horseshoe on top of a circle with your last bead sitting at the bottom. You will only need to add 5 beads since the top of your last circle will also count for the bottom of this circle.
  • Again, repeat the stringing from opposite sides with the top bead (6th) and then create your last loop.
  • When you get to the top of your third circle, you will need to place a crimp bead on one of the strings then place the other string through the crimp bead going the opposite direction. Pull the string decently tight and crimp the bead (with your crimping tool or flat nose pliers). Flatten the crimp bead on the wire and then turn the bead and flatten the other direction. You should have something that looks like a snowman(three circles sitting on top of each other.

Now create your two side circle sets. (Two circles on top of each other- snowman missing a head).

  • Start by stringing your  beads onto your wire (your 6th bead is already on the middle circle of the center set of circles-full snowman) String your wire through the bead that is already connected to the one of the center circles. (This will anchor your side circles to your center circles) then continue stringing to make a complete circle.
  • String both ways through the top bead  like the center circles to create a round circle.
  • Your top circle on each of the sides (short snowmen) will only need 4 beads added since the bottom is already there (from the first circle) and one of the sides will be connected from the center circle(head of the center snowman).
  • Crimp near the top by repeating the crimp done at the top of the center snowman circle.
  • Repeat for the opposite side.
  • String your 20in beading wire through the top of the beads on each side circle sets(small snowmen). Try on your necklace to see where it should sit. 20in may be too much or not enough wire! You can also add a few beads at this point is desired- no crimp needed since it will be crimped at the top near the clasp.
  • Add a crimp bead or 2 through both of the wires (hold it near the top so if doesn’t fall down near the beads)
  • Slide on a clasp
  • Pull the wires back down over the clasp and back through the crimp bead (now 4 strands of wire are through the bead.
  • Crimp the bead and cut  the excess wire.
  • Repeat on other side.

You are finished!


Extra Inspiration:




About Headley Whitney Museum

We are a decorative arts museum located in the heart of the Bluegrass. Opened in 1968 by George Headley III, a noted jewelry designer from the mid-twentieth century. Our permanent collection includes the Marylou Whitney Estate dollhouses, Library, Jewel Room and galleries for temporary exhibitions.
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