Venetian Style Necklace
When I demonstrate beading during an in-store event, someone inevitably asks if beading is an appropriate activity for a young lady’s birthday party. The shortest answer is yes. The shortest answer, however, is not sufficient.
There are two distinct levels of beading for youngsters. The first is safe, and easy, and involves soft stringing material and plastic beads. The finished bracelet or necklace looks like something made in an arts and crafts class at summer camp. That’s fine for girls 8 and under, but not for tweens. The sophisticated expectations of tweens are driven by television shows and teen magazines with photos of teen idols on red carpets.
My Parent’s Guide to a Beading Party
- Safety first – do not pick a project that requires tools.
- Decide how much per party guest you are prepared to spend on the materials.
- Ask at least one other adult to help you supervise the activity – do not supervise alone.
- Make a sample piece before the party and display it while the youngsters are making their own creations.
- Buy extra beads – because some will get away during the activity and you won’t want to be crawling on the floor searching for them.
- Choose a colour theme, the guest of honour’s favourite colour perhaps – and stick to it when you select the material – you will save money.
If Money is No Object
Choose the Pandora-style of bracelet for your birthday party project. One bracelet will require:
- A chain with clasp that has a screw feature, which allows the beader to remove the clasp to string the beads.
- A combination of 3 or 4 charms, beads, or spacers.
I recommend that an adult removes the screw clasp from all the bracelet chains and retains them for safe-keeping. Return one to each young lady when she finishes her piece. Allow the young ladies to pick the beads/spacers/charms from a large bowl. Explain before the selection begins that the limit is 3 or 4 per person. If you are hosting a large group, you can make gift bags in advance that contain all the supplies required for one bracelet. That will eliminate the problem of the last person having little from which to choose in the bottom of the bowl.
The beads/charms/spacers are strung on the chain in any order that the child chooses. Once the beading is complete, the clasp screw is returned to the chain – et voila a party favour to wear home.
Beading on a Budget
Use memory wire. You will have to invest in 2 tools – a memory wire cutter and a pair of tubenose pliers. Or perhaps you know an adult beader willing to lend you the tools? Purchase 2 or 3 packages of memory wire in the bracelet size. The amount depends on the number of youngsters attending the party. Before the party cut the memory wire into bracelet length pieces: 1.5 turns around the wrist is the minimum length. With the tubenose pliers, make a loop at one end of each piece of bracelet wire. Choose a selection of beads – buy in bulk – with holes large enough to allow the memory wire to pass through, but not too big. The number of beads to string depends on the size of the bead you have chosen. The easiest way to estimate is to lay an inch of beads in a the groove of a bead board. Count the number of beads it takes to make an inch. Multiple that number times the length of the wire you cut. For example: 15 beards per inch x 5 inches = 75 beads x the number of bracelets to be made.
When all the beads have been strung on the memory wire, make another loop exactly like the first loop that will stop the beads from slipping off.
Memory wire must knows
Do not cut the wire with anything other than memory wire cutters. You will ruin your regular wire cutters. Do not, I repeat, do not cut memory wire with anything other than memory wire cutters.
When you make the loops at the end, turn the wire back away from the natural curve of the memory wire. Do not go with the flow. Again, do not go with the flow, bend against the natural curve of the wire.
One Final Hint
What would you rather have as a party guest? A loot bag with things you’ll never use ever again, or a pretty bracelet you made yourself to wear home and show your parents?