Tag Archives: Jewelry Making and Beading

DIY: The Return of my Lucky Necklace

DIY: The Return of my Lucky Necklace

Repairs all complete!

My lucky necklace started as a happy accident. When I first made it, I wasn’t sure if it really “worked,” since it was made up of odds and ends. Some people raised an eyebrow at its eye-catching composition. But I wore it often and got enough compliments to realize it probably reflected my personality. It’s meant to be a conversational starter.

Each bead in the strand has its own history. Most of the beads are remainders from bracelets and earrings I made for my best friends, some come from gifts I have received in turn that have fallen apart from overuse. The beads range from natural to synthetic. There’s mother of pearl, rose quartz, and Murano glass beads in there, apart from stone, jadeite, and Swarovski crystals.

When I moved from Manila to Oakland, upon arrival I couldn’t find my necklace anywhere—not in my shipped boxes, my laptop bag, or my purse! I immediately thought I accidentally left it behind at the hotel where I decamped for a week. Selling the house and moving was so crazy that the morning before my flight, I was still sorting and dumping stuff into my luggage. The hotel even tried to turn me out early from my room!

In the midst of this confusion, it’s no wonder why the necklace went astray. The loss saddened me. I couldn’t just make up a new necklace with the same concept because the beads were significant to me.

So you can imagine how overjoyed I was when I finally found the necklace again, almost three years later, at the bottom of a bag full of yarn. How it got there, I have no idea. The Minutemen must have put it there.

When I found it again, the necklace wasn’t in stellar condition. The wiring looked rusty and the clasp needed replacement. It annoyed me, too, that one side had too many small beads. It was time to remix this necklace again!


A blurry "before" photo. See all the smaller beads on the top left.

So this is what I did:

I studied my stash of beads and whatnot and selected a handful of beads I wanted to include in my necklace. I also selected some more items:

  • a handful of small Swarovski crystals to replace some dull plastic ones
  • bead wire
  • one lobster clasp
  • two jump rings
  • jewelry pliers and nipper
  • bead tray


  1. I cut off the old clasp and carefully removed each bead from the old string, arranging the beads in its original order on my bead tray. At this point I also cleaned some of them with a soft cloth.
  2. After replacing all the small plastic crystals for real ones, my mind turned to composition. I moved beads from one side of the necklace to the other, trying to create a better sense of balance in terms of color and size. For instance, I put the two rectangular stones (brown and green) at opposite sides of each other.
  3. Once I was satisfied with my bead arrangement (for most part, I alternated crystals with larger beads) cut off a length of bead wire. Using a stopper bead on one end, I strung the beads.
  4. It may be unconventional but instead of using a crimp at the end of the wire length, I used my pliers to form a loop and wrapped the wire ends neatly. I repeated this on the other side.
  5. Then I attached the jump rings and the clasp.


Necklace re-stringing in progress.

The concept behind this necklace is simple. Maybe there are tons of other people who have created something similar. It’s a great way to use up orphan beads in your collection to create something unique. To make your own, here are some suggestions:

  • Use only beads that are meaningful and beautiful to you. If you don’t, you’re going to end up with a necklace that you will never wear.
  • Don’t over-think the colors: size is more important.
  • The Swarovski crystals you use shouldn’t overwhelm the “showcase” beads but they should capture the light well. If the lack of uniformity bothers your aesthetic, you can stick to crystals of one shape and hue.


DIY: How to Make Beaded Shoe Clips

DIY: How to Make Beaded Shoe Clips

Do you feel like crafting today?

I love beading and jewelry-making. My fascination with baubles can be traced to my  grandmother, who once gave me the grand tour of her filing cabinet. It was an old-fashioned piece of office equipment that took up part of her bedroom and looked singularly out of place there. Anyway, her filing cabinet turned out to be overflowing with boxes of brooches, rings, and bracelets. She had stringed pearls for women, cufflinks for men, and even loose diamonds! We spent an entire afternoon going through her treasures—I believe she was very bored that day.

To my knowledge, I was the only granddaughter she allowed to poke around her stuff.  Alas, when she passed away I inherited nothing but a single gold necklace, a pair of cameo earrings, and a ton of old photos. She did, however, instill in me a wonder for pretty, sparkly things.

The prerequisite "before" photo

Despite my fascination with jewelry I don’t wear a lot of it, especially while commuting. My first job as an editorial assistant had me traveling through some rough neighborhoods in Manila. When there are a lot of pickpockets and snatchers on the prowl, a woman gets used to wearing the simplest accessories. Even now, I cannot get into the habit of wearing any jewelry that can be yanked away by any crazy person loitering around the BART stations.

The urge to repair my favorite pair of ballet shoes, though, overcame my usual love of simplicity. My feet love this particular pair of Naturalizers so it really pissed me off when the chain-link appliqué kept on falling off despite all efforts to superglue it back.

So this is what I did:

Rip them! Rip them! (step two)


1. I took a good look at my ballet flats and my stash of beads and what-not. After some thinking, I selected the following materials:

  • two double-drilled oval plastic beads (Bought for fifty pesos from Carolina’s! The cultural equivalent would be a half a dollar from Michael’s)
  • a handful of gold cylinder seed beads, recycled from an old necklace
  • a handful of assorted cylinder seed beads, recycled from an old friendship bracelet
  • bead wire (what I have on hand is Sweet Pea 24-gauge bead wire)
  • one perforated plate finding, one-inch in diameter


Some times it's a hassle to stop working just to take photos! Here, I'm in the middle of step three.

In terms of equipment, I also brought out:

  • my different pairs of pliers
  • a ripper from my sewing kit
  • superglue

2. With pliers and a ripper from my sewing kit, I removed all trace of the original chain decor. I took care not to damage the shoe tops. You can see the outline of the stitch holes on the left shoe.

3. Loosely following a pattern for a brooch in an old Japanese magazine, I threaded ten to twelve gold seed beads on the bead wire. (By the by, Japanese craft magazines are awesome! You don’t even need to read the language to follow the instructions). I looped the threaded beads, back to front, to form a petal shape and fastened it to the perforated plate finding. For the next petal I used the cylinder seed beads of mixed colors. I alternated colors until I completed one row of “petals.”

4. For the second row, I threaded twelve to fifteen beads, and adjusted each petal to make sure they would cover, as much as possible, the original stitching on the shoe tops.

I constantly checked to see if the first row of "petals" covered up the old stitch holes. (step three)

5. Once the perforated finding was sufficiently covered with beads, I attached the large plastic bead with the remaining bead wire and secured it in the back. I attached each “shoe clip” to the top of each shoe with superglue. I let it dry for a day before wearing the pair.


I’m not sure if it’s right to call these shoe clips since they are now permanently affixed to my ballet flats. The principle, though, is the same, and if I had shoe clip attachments on hand I might have used them. (When I’m in “crafting mode” I really hate to stop and go to a store. It breaks up my momentum.)

Whatever these things should be called, they haven’t fallen off my flats since I attached them. It’s a ridiculously simple thing but I’m  happy to be able to use my favorite shoes again. My grandmother would probably not approve—she’d insist on beads and sequins all over—but I’m really content to wear discreet homemade bling.