Memory Talisman Bracelet

Louise McClure of Raleigh, N.C., explains how to create a homemade beaded bracelet.

Louise McClure has always relied on instinct and emotion in her art. This is evident as she explains the process for creating a memory talisman bracelet.



Materials and Tools:

4 multi-strand bracelet end bars
2 multi-strand spacer bars
jump rings
3-ply nylon cord in two colors
5 to 7 large stones and beads (approximately 10 to 12 mm)
9 to 13 medium stones and beads (approximately 6 to 9 mm)
assortment of small beads (approximately 4 to 6 mm)
packet of size 11 seed beads in two colors
packet of size 8 seed beads
packet of 6 seed beads
various spacers and heishi beads
craft epoxy
small alligator clips
metal crimp beads
12" x 12" fabric-covered work board

Part 1


1. Measure wrist diameter and add about 1/4" for ease of movement. On your work board, lay out the clasp ends, left and right at opposite ends of wrist measurement. Pin in place with the T pins.

2. Divide wrist measurement by three for two spacer bars. Place spacer bars at 70 mm intervals. Pin in place with T pins.

3. Visualize written sheet music for the next stage. The beads become the individual notes on the lines or threads of the music. Experiment with color emphasis, rhythm, repetition and accents of color and reflective metallic light. Just as there are subtle shifts and melodies in song, so shall there be in your work.

4. Lay out your large (10 to 12 mm size) beads between the clasp ends and spacers. Think of physical balance of weight and where they will appear when you are wearing the completed piece. Focal points and very special beads should be placed toward the center.

5. Lay out your medium (6 to 9 mm) beads to accent and complement the large beads. Then, lay out the small (4 to 6 mm) beads to bring visual harmony to the composition.

6. Surround yourself with small containers of seed beads, heishi, small accent beads (3 to 4 mm), flowers, leaves, etc. These are your color palette bowls. They will be mixed and randomly strung as you weave through and around the larger beads you have already placed on your workboard.

7. Cut a length of three-ply nylon cord four times the original wrist measurement. This will allow plenty of cord to knot, twine and finish. Another plus: If your piece decides it wants to be a necklace instead of a bracelet, you have enough cord to follow the new creative path.

8. Decide which color cord you would like for the other stands. Louise usually uses two colors of cord in her pieces. Cut the desired number of strands in the colors you have selected.

9. Finish each end of the strands with a drop of craft epoxy spread thinly and evenly about 10 mm along the ends. Allow to dry. This will enable you to use the strand end as a "needle" to go through the smaller seed beads.

10. Select a cord and hold the ends in one hand, fold in half to find the center point. Mark with a small alligator clip.

11. Using the layout of beads as a reference guide, begin in the center of the piece and work out toward the right or the left end. Louise is righthand-dominant, so she works toward the left end first. Pick whichever end is more comfortable for you.

12. String on a bead and slide it to the center of the cord. String on several more beads of various sizes, shapes, colors to form a pleasing composition. Louise generally works about 10 to 15 mm at a time. Place a small alligator clip on the cord next to the last bead to prevent slipping.

13. Repeat the process on each of your strands of cord, working from the center of each cord outward.

14. Lay out the cords flat on your workboard from top to bottom as you string the beads. Remember the tip about the lines of sheet music.

15. Begin to weave cords into larger beads as you continue to string first one cord then another, progressing about 10 to 15 mm at a time. You should have two strands of cord in a large or medium bead. This will give strength and dimensional stability to your piece.

16. Be sure to check the layout for visual and physical balance and color placement as you string and weave. Be flexible, adding colors, textures and sizes as you progress. Size 11 seed beads make great "bridges" over larger beads on adjacent cords, for example.

17. Keep stringing and weaving cords through beads until your piece reaches the correct length of the center section. Louise's example was 70 mm. Knot each cord end close to last bead on each cord.

18. Thread cords into holes in spacer bar and then slide the bar into position next to strung section. Form knots as above on each cord as it exits from spacer bar. Repeat on other bar.

19. Continue to string beads on cords and weave into larger beads in remaining section to right (or left) of center section you just completed. As you near the end of this section close to the clasp location, remember to use a large-hole bead next to the clasp. The large hole will help hide the crimp bead and knot that you will use in finishing (see next step).

20. To finish it, slide the crimp bead onto cord. Pass the cord through the loop in the clasp and back through the crimp bead. Pull cord gently and tightly and form knot next to crimp bead. Do not cut cord yet!

21. Put dab of craft epoxy on knot and let dry. Use floss-threader to thread cord end back through large-hole bead next to clasp. Crimp bead with crimp pliers. Cut end of cord to about 3 to 4 mm.

22. Touch end of cord with lit stick of incense to melt cord end and seal. Be careful not to melt the cord with the beads.

Part 2: Wearable Memory Talisman Charms

Materials and Tools:

assorted shapes and sizes of cardstock tags
vellum tags
wood and copper
22-gauge copper wire (approximately 40 mm)
packet of decorative papers
metal grommets in several finishes
copper jump rings
plastic tubing in two sizes with four metal bead caps to complete a prayer-tube talisman
personal mementos
ephemera (paper, greeting cards, photos)
special beads
buttons or small items (such as game pieces)

Steps for constructing a scroll amulet:

1. Cut a piece of plastic tubing to desired length. Louise uses a craft miter box and small saw to get a straight, clean cut. Slightly roughen the outside of the plastic tube with the "scrubby" side of a kitchen sponge or sandpaper. This will minimize the slick plastic look of the tube.

2. Select paper image or decorative paper. Use scissors or craft knife to cut image the same length as the tube and about 1-1/2" wide.

3. Stamp with design using rubber stamp and your choice of ink.

4. If you choose to add dimension with embossing powder, sprinkle it lightly over wet image. Tap off excess and return to container. Use an embossing gun to gently move hot air over the image until the powder starts to bubble and become glossy.

5. Roll paper image into a scroll form and insert into the tube. Glue bead caps to each end of the tube. Allow to dry completely.

6. Cut length of 22-gauge copper wire twice the length of the tube/bead cap assembly. Form eye-loop at one end of the wire and thread into center of tube. The wire should pass through the center of the scroll so it is not visible through the tube. Form eye-loop at the remaining end of the wire, where it exits the tube/bead cap assembly.

* Tip: You may wish to embellish the wire with beads before forming the eye-loop. Dangles can also be added to the end of the loop before the final wire-wrap, or added with jump rings.

7. Attach to bracelet (or necklace) with a jump ring.

Steps for paper images on charms:

1. Start with a metal finding, found object, flat game piece or token. Trace around the outside of the finding onto cardstock or an index card.

2. Cut out the "window." Position window on decorative paper, card image or photocopy and move around until you find just the right image portion through the window.

3. Trace inside the window with a pencil.

4. Use small craft scissors to cut out the decorative image.

5. Use a small artist brush to lightly coat the finding with acrylic craft sealer. While it's still wet, set the image on the finding and press with your fingertip to fix it in place.

6. Lightly coat surface of paper image with sealer. Let dry. You might choose to use several coats to seal. If so, be sure to allow time for drying between coats. Follow manufacturers' directions for cleanup with soap and water.

* Tip: Glue a small piece of cord around the inside perimeter of the finding. Use a thin sheet of mica cut to fit as an elevated window. This will allow you to float snippets of things like fiber, paper, glitter and small beads under the window. Glue mica "window" to cord around the perimeter.

7. Attach to bracelet with a jump ring.

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