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How-Tuesday: Natural Bean Jewelry

by lisajune

Jan 24, 2012

There's more to beans than a tasty burrito. Adorn yourself with the seeds of the world!

"Me, sexy? I'm just plain ol' beans and rice."  — Pam Grier
Once thought of as the seat of the soul, beans have been buried with the dead, deemed the seed of sin, grown for almost nine millennia, and eaten daily across the globe. With over 4,000 cultivar they come in coats of many colors: rich red and purple kidney, tawny intricate tans of cranberry, or the the simple stark contrast of the black eye. I'm Lisa Kraushaar of radicals — by day a mild-mannered Etsy Admin — here to show you how to make beans into beads, and focus on the legume's more decorative values.

Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Approximately 300 dry beans, any type (Pictured above are calypso beans, black eyed peas, red beans, and cranberry beans.)
  • Waxed thread
  • Flex shaft or dremel hand tool (or any tool that drills)
  • 1mm drill bit
  • Bench pin (or another wooden surface to drill into)
  • 4 mm spherical burr
  • Super glue
  • Scissors


1. With your bench pin at the ready, firmly secure your 4mm burr in your flex shaft or dremel. Carve a nook the size of the beans you've decided to use in you bench pin. This will serve as a brace to hold your bean secure when you apply the pressure of your drill.

2. Replace the burr with your 1mm drill bit in your flex shaft. Pinch the bean firmly parallel to the direction you'll drill your hole. Hold it securely in the nook you've carved in your bench pin. Place your drill at the desired entrance of your hole and apply firm pressure against your drill bit and bean. At a gentle speed, push your drill through the length of the bean. Hold your flex shaft firmly, but without a stiff wrist. In the event that your drill skips away from the bean, a loose wrist will give you the flexibility to pull away before nicking your fingers. You can brace your drill wrist against your bench pin for greater control. Repeat step 2 until you've drilled holes through all of your beans.
3. Unspool about 2 1/2 yards of waxed thread. String your beans until you have about 6 ft. of beaded cord. The wax thread will be stiff enough to string your beads without a needle. If the tip of your string becomes frayed, twist or snip it back into a point. If you have any problems stringing your bean, blow air through the hole of the bean or clear it out with a needle.
4. Firmly tie both ends of your beaded string twice. Apply a small amount of super glue to your knot. Make sure to coat the spaces where stings some together. Let it dry overnight.
5. Snip the remaining string tight to your knot. Since you've glued the knot, you need not fear it will untie. You now have a beautiful string of beans that can be draped several times around the neck or wrapped around your wrist for a striking bracelet. 6. Wait for the oohs and ahhs to begin!

If you make your own bean jewelry, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.

More Things to Make | Jewelry on Etsy