Thursday, May 5, 2011

For Those Hard-To-Craft-For People: Japa Mala bead strings.



Today's project isn't a repurpose, an upcycle or a restyle...it's a mini solution to a  problem I run into a lot.  I LOVE giving gifts.  I love giving HANDMADE gifts.  But personally, I find it difficult to give my particular brand of upcycled jewelry to many of the people in my life.  It takes a certain...er...esthetic sense...to appreciate what I do.  And not everyone wants jewelry even when it isn't weird.

Do you guys know what I mean?  Whichever craft you practice, chances are it is not going to be appreciated by everyone on your list.


Just this coming week, for example, my dad has a milestone birthday, and then there's Mother's Day for 4 lovely moms in my life - only two of whom wear my jewels.  Dad is not really going to like an aluminum duct tape necklace, or earrings made of  ziploc baggies.  My stepmom Kate, while she is amused by my strange baubles, doesn't wear much jewelry.  However, they both love yoga, meditation and Indian art.

So I thought I would show you a beaded gift that might please some of those impossible-to-craft-for people.  Not all of them.  But some.  Look:




They are Japa Mala beads - traditional Hindu or Buddhist meditation or prayer beads.  Big and exciting looking, they are more decor than jewelry, more objet d'art than necklace.  A cool gift for someone into ethnic art or Asian influenced decor.  And for anyone who does yoga or meditates, a lovely, unique treasure.

They are super simple to make and (bonus!) require no special tools or jewelry-making skills.  Here comes the easy tutorial for my version of Japa Mala beads.

Cut a long piece of string.  Knot a small loop in the center.  Then string any pattern of beads on both sides.  A full Mala has 108 beads.  A half Mala has 54 beads.




When you have strung all your beads, add a small (optional) spacer to each end, then string both ends through a big, interesting bead of some kind.


Cut a couple of short pieces of string and tie a knot around them using the two original string ends.  It's a little hard to see in the picture, but when you pull the knot tight it disappears inside the big bead:


Now you have a bunch of strings that will form the tassel, and you need to thread all the ends through a final big bead.  It may be a tight fit.  Here is my SECRET WEAPON!!!!



Okay, last step: tie a big knot right up against the final bead:


And that's your Mala!  Aren't they nice?




I hope this idea sparks something for a few of you!  And  I would LOVE to hear what you guys have done to adapt your craft to your own non-craft-lovin' giftees.


17 comments:

  1. What a great idea, Michelle. So lovely. My father has recently started making pray beads as a hobby too and apparently they are in real demand. These may be a great seller in your shoppe...

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  2. lovely tip with the dental floss thingy's!

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  3. Love the colors in the last set...

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  4. Those turned out wickedly awesome Michelle! Great gifts.

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  5. Great gift idea! And thanks for including my silly poodle :)

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  6. Nice japa-mala necklace, love the color....
    Earlier days japa mala beads are made from sacred tulasi wood. they are used for mantra mediation. these days the mala come in different color nicely polished. The multi color (nine gems)representing the 9 planets used to create strength and balance.

    Enjoy making.

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  7. OOhh..nice to see this post & Mala..you know in my national language URDU...Mala = Necklace..so i enjoy to read this :)

    One thing more..
    if you will Google it the word " Tasbih "you will see many of these beaded mala,Actually Tasbih is like a Prayer rope in Islam.so its very usual here..even i have many colorful & cute beaded Tasbih for prayer..I love your jewelry version..awesome

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  8. Oh my goodness these are fabulous and once again you are a genius with your secret weapon! Love, love, love these and so thrilled that you shared them at my link party.

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  9. Tasbih and Mala, huh? I LOVE learning new stuff, especially the easy and pretty way. Thanks, Mich, for the inspiration. I love the beads you used, are they sp gems? *drool* Can't wait for another lesson!

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  10. Oooh, pretty, pretty beads and a great tip with the dental thingie. Very nice! I smiled real big when I saw the knitted doggy cover. I haven't thought about those in years. My grandmother made me some in all different colors; I had them everywhere in my room. Wish I still had just one.

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  11. Hello!! Your necklaces are beutiful and the beads too. :)

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  12. Those are a winner, because everyone loves a big statement necklace, and they have so many uses.

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  13. As an official Buddhist, I highly endorse this product.

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  14. Hey Girl your work is beautiful.This pattern would easily adapt to making an Anglidan or protestant rosary. I have just finished making up 25 little kits for our children to make at St.Pauls Anglican Church in Barrie. Our rosary has 33 beads including the cross. The smaller beads are the weeks (7 beads)then a larger bead (4) at the end of each set of 7 which brings you round the rosary with these larger beads forming a cross in the middleThen just as you did the two threads (whatever you chose)come together and go down through two largest beads one of which is usually a cross. This all adds up to 33 beads which was the number of years Christ lived. It would be nice if more of us would begin using these rosaries and saying the prayers for each bead. Thanks again I thoroughly enjoy following all these craft and jewellery projects. love in Christ ,Marlene Russell

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  15. What is the thread and mm that you are using? Thanks :)

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    1. And yes I know what you mean, not everyone appreciates my jewelry even when it isn't weird. LOL.

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    2. I am making a dragon skin agate bead mala with a dragon focal bead and cones. I am a fire dragon according to Chinese Zodiac so that is pretty cool.

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