Beaded Treasure Necklace

I admin the Altered Artwear Facebook group. We’ve been kind of inactive this year, but now that summer is over, I hope to generate more group involvement. One of the ways I do that is via informal challenges. The summer challenge was to try a technique in upcycling clothing or accessories that you’ve never tried before.

I have been making costume jewelry off and on for over 40 years. In the ’70s I worked in a mall store, piercing ears and stringing necklace, bracelet, and earring sets. Lately I’ve been missing working with beads.

This was my inspiration for the challenge: a beaded treasure necklace by Mary Ellen Merrigan.

My inspiration for my own treasure necklace

I have lots and lots of inexpensive ethnic costume jewelry. I mean LOTS. I’ve been collecting for years, especially from yard sales, thrift shops, and dollar stores. It’s much cheaper to acquire beads and charms that way. Broken jewelry? No problem when you use the components as materials for your own original creations.

Jewelry that I was willing to take apart for the components

I looked through part of my jewelry hoard and selected some items that I was willing to deconstruct. Some of the pieces were dusty and needed cleaning.

Pieces washed and rinsed

I put the pieces needing cleaning in a bowl of warm water and Dawn dishwashing liquid and swished them around. I rinsed everything and placed on paper towels to dry.

Use a towel to keep beads from rolling

I took the necklaces apart on a towel so that the beads wouldn’t roll around, and also to see them better because my little work table is black.

Use ice cube trays for beads

These ice cube trays came as a pair for 99 cents at the 99 Cents Only store. They are perfect for holding small amounts of beads. As I disassembled everything, I put the pieces in the trays. If I had to buy all that from a bead store, it would cost a fortune.

Starting with the lower strand

I have two beading boards…a one strand and a three strand. I used the Darice three strand board that I’ve had since the ’90s. I started with the bottom strand. Put masking tape or painters tape on the ends to hold your beads in place so they don’t slide off.

Stringing the necklace

I used .024 inch Beadalon bead stringing wire for stringing the beads, which is necessary for heavy beads. I only purchased the stringing wire, end cones, and toggle clasps (from Michaels). I already had the jump rings. Everything else was from the jewelry I took apart.

Three strands

Remaining beads after necklace was finished

As you can see, I still have a lot of materials left over. I also just found another bag of take apart jewelry, so I have a feeling I will be making more than one treasure necklace.

My completed beaded treasure necklace

Beaded treasure necklace detail

I’ve been wanting to create a treasure necklace for a long time, and I’m very pleased with how this one turned out. Entirely made from old earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. It was a lot of fun and not difficult to accomplish. It’s not that heavy, and I’m looking forward to wearing it because it makes me happy!