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5 Creative Ways to Use Mismatched Leftover Beads

Updated on July 5, 2015

Every avid jewelry maker eventually accumulates a large collection of mismatched leftover beads. Beads often have to be purchased in packages, so you may need be forced to buy a dozen beads when you only need three or four to complete your project. Fortunately, there are plenty of different projects you can make to ensure that none of these materials go to waste.

  1. A beaded keychain makes a nice gift for someone who appreciates handmade items, but doesn't wear beaded jewelry. Keychain findings can be purchased wherever jewelry making supplies are sold. You will want to choose beads that are made of sturdy materials, however. Metal beads or wood beads are the best choice for making a beaded keychain. Fragile glass beads can be easily broken when they are being jostled around in a pocket or purse.
  2. One easy way to use up a collection of leftover beads is to string them on a pretty piece of ribbon to make a bookmark. Tie a knot at the end to secure the beads. If you're worried about the ribbon fraying, coat the cut ends with a dab of clear nail polish. If you want to give the bookmark as a gift, consider stamping the recipient’s name on the ribbon using fabric safe ink and a tiny set of alphabet rubber stamps.
  3. You can turn a large glass bead into a pendant for a necklace by threading it on a head pin and making a loop at the top. If you don't have a head pin handy, make a spiral at the end of a piece of jewelry making wire to keep the bead secure. Many beads make lovely pendants as is, but you could try decorating the bead with scrapbooking rub-ons or decoupaging an image to the front if you would like a more eye-catching design.
  4. If you don't have enough beads for your project, try combining leftover beads and buttons. Bend wire through the holes of your buttons in colors that coordinate with your beads, then hook all of your links together to make a bracelet or necklace. Although it’s more time consuming, you could also try making beads from strips of scrapbooking paper, magazine advertisements, or wrapping paper in order to fill in the gaps in your project. Apply a bit of glue to one side of the paper strip, then carefully roll it around a thin dowel to create your bead shape.
  5. Remember that not all beaded jewelry projects need to be strung in a specific pattern. If the beads have common colors, you can make a pretty piece of jewelry even if you don't have enough beads to create a traditional pattern. Make an eclectic looking bracelet by combining beads of all sizes and shapes that have a similar color scheme and stringing them on clear stretch cord.

Beading Basics


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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Very useful ideas. Your projects are pretty!

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 4 years ago from Virginia

      These are great ideas. I may have to try a few with the large assortment of beads that I have.