Sunday, April 17, 2011

Explode-A-Bead Tutorial #1: Fun and Easy Tassels!

Here is something SO fun and cheap, I can barely stand it.


Did you spot what I used?

Mardi Gras Beads!!!  I know you have some.  Perhaps a string you bought at the dollar store, or acquired by a questionable act you prefer not to discuss.  Or those ones hanging in the back of your closet on that spangled leopard mini-dress with the big pink wine stain over one boob.  (I have spies everywhere.)

You can also use vintage plastic bead strings, or beaded trim from the fabric store -  i.e., plastic-beads-glued-to-string in some form or another.

Here's the DIY.

Take a short piece of your beaded string.  Grab the center bead with strong pliers and SQUISH with all your might and main.  BANG!  It will EXPLODE!

Do wear safety glasses or shut your eyes during this step.  Some Mardi Gras beads explode more easily than others.  If you have a really tough strand and you're not strong enough to smash them by hand, you could use a hammer, a vise or that hunky bodybuilder across the way.

Mad Genius tip of the week: I recommend you do this over a shrubbery.

You heard me.  I always explode my beads over a shrubbery.  The plastic shards fall into the undergrowth and I don't have to clean them up.  Centuries from now, archaeologists will find a vast, mysterious field of broken Mardi Gras beads where my house used to be.  I can't imagine to what theory this phenomenon will be attributed.  Probably devil worship.

Make a bunch of these little bead-strings-with-one-bead-missing.  Group a few, and twist some wire around all the strings at the point where you exploded the bead.  Snip off one end of the wire to neaten things up.

Slip a big bead down over the wire.  It's nice if the bead has a hole large enough to hide the wire twist.

Make a wrapped loop at the top....

That's it!  Tasselicious, baby!

Here are two more versions.  Leave off the big bead, and just make a wire loop above the gathered strings, like so:

Use it to ornament just about anything...

Finally - and easiest of all - skip the wire altogether.  Just use string, ribbon or cord, as I did with this little elephant...

I'm sure you guys will think of lots of ways to use your exploded bead tassels.

I have another Explode-A-Bead project to show you very soon.  See ya then!


  1. I want the Zen one with the red beads!!! Mich, these are so lovely, I'll HAVE to make them. Of course the boring English don't have Mardi Gras (dang typical, moddy, grumpy old buggers!), but I could just string 'em up, baby.
    The ones with the cute animals remind me of an Anthro- knock off over at Flamingo toes, there's just something about little critters with beads. You are still the queen of quirk!

  2. Thanks for this great idea. I have been wondering for ages what too with these beads that are not strung so that I can remove them. Now I can experiment, that's soo cool.

  3. You are so funny. This post totally made me laugh. Devil worship & pink stains. Anyways! This is such a cute idea. Thanks for sharing!

  4. FANTASTIC!! My girls have just handed me a big pile of their old necklaces that they no longer want - they look perfect for exploding tassle projects! Thanks for sharing! - I think I'll explode mine in the girls' secret garden - they'll think the fairies have been sprinkling fairy dust again!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  5. Oh my God are so mad....and your spies are indeed working very very well...even today I was thinking what to do with those damn beads that just sit there curled up in the corner...
    ...n love the part about archeologists finding remnants...indeed that was too

  6. So beautiful you have a lot of imagination, I love the red and black one:-)

  7. Eeeeeep! I have a whole closet full of mardi gras beads just waiting for an easy project like this. Plus, I like the idea of exploding beads over shrubbery. Too friggin FUN!

  8. I just love reading your posts. Guaranteed to bring inspiration and laughs every time. And I agree with lisbonlioness, the Zen pendant is awesome!

  9. You are strong. This is your superpower: exploding beads. I would definitely have to go the hammer and vice route because my strength pales in comparison to yours.

    Oh and these tassels are GLORIOUS, bee tee dub. I can't believe all the pretty versions you have created here. Amazing! Cannot wait to see the rest!!!

  10. This post reminded me of some Anthropologie jewelry I saw made out of animals. Here's the link if you're interested in checking it out:

    Great tutorial as always.

  11. I am working at my look on things! I love what possibilities you can see all the little objects surrounding you! To take something strange or ordinary, sometimes even ugly and make such beautiful and cute jewelery out of it!

    They must be pure glitter in the sun! :)

  12. Those are really fun! The animal ones are my favorite. Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

  13. I'm still laughing at what they'll be digging up in your yard in the year 3011. Those beads probably have some of the same ingredients as a Twinkie....they will never go away. My vacuum makes strange noises as it picks up my bead droppings. These fancy exploded bead tassels are just too cute!

  14. how cute..the color of beads & the tiny animals are superb :)

  15. I'm loving the animals too! Brilliant idea as always, and thanks so much for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

  16. I am back here to say that I made a pair of earrings by tweeking your tutorial and it came out pretty well (n I didnt break any beads in the process) now a couple of people I know want them...I would like to sell it so I want your permission to do so..I just hope that you wont mind...for I dont make more than 1 or 2 pieces per design