Get Your Kids Into Jewelry-Making! | Print |


If you’re looking for a fun, educational and entertaining hobby to start your children out on, try making beaded jewelry. Stringing glass or stone beads for necklaces may sound simple, but kids love it, and it will build a life-time hobby for them.
My own daughter—five—was sitting around the house the other day, completely bored. Her toys were all played with, she’d watched her share of TV for the day, and she’d run out of things to do as only a child can.
“I’m bored!” she tells me, sighing heavily and blowing her hair from her face.
That was the moment that things changed between us, because that was the moment I pulled out my bead box.
I’ve been making bead jewelry for years, so my stockpile of beads has grown pretty big. I got into it about seven years ago when I needed a hobby (I guess you could say I got bored too!), and wanted to find a way to make a little extra money. I started out making necklaces, earrings and bracelets out of semi-precious stone beads, like green malachite or lapis lazuli.
But in the past couple of years I’ve found that I sell more jewelry (and make more) by using glass beads instead, particularly Chinese or India glass. So my supply of that type was huge (we’re talking bags of it)!
Needless to say Tracy’s eyes twinkled when gazing over the glittering, glistening mounds of glass. She immediately fell in love with the different bright colors of the India glass and the sparkling facets from the cut Chinese crystal beads.
Five is about the right age. My daughter didn’t try to eat the beads, she was nimble and dexterous enough to pick them up and string them, and she was imaginative enough to make some of the most creative and funky designs I’d seen. In fact, we put many of her pieces up for sale and they sold—often before mine!
Bracelets are usually the easiest things for kids to make, because they are obviously shorter, they’re less likely to make children bored or frustrated, and they take less material to make. Start out by just letting your kids experiment with different sizes, shapes and colors. Help them find color spectrums that they like. Show them how graduated beads can balance bracelets and necklaces by creating a ‘center.’
The best beads to use are obviously the larger sizes, at least 6mm or larger. Anything less than 6mm will be just a bit too small for them to pick up and string. I preferred glass myself, and I think it’s probably the best for kids too, simply because of the lower price and the immense variety of colors and shapes.
As for what type of string to use, I’d recommend a bead string or some type that can be knotted around the clasp (probably by you). The alternative is beading wire, which needs crimp beads and pliers. 
My daughter has gotten so good at making jewelry in such a short time. She’s now making presents for family members and friends, and stashing away her earnings from the sales at our table at the local farmer’s market. I don’t know where her new hobby will take her, but at least for now she’s not bored anymore!
For great prices on glass beads and stone beads, look online at Western Traders. We have the largest selection of beads in Southern New Mexico and West Texas.