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DIY Recycled Bamboo Link Jewelry

Updated on February 2, 2015
Source

Upcycling My Bamboo Window Shade

I am a woman on a mission!! I have two worn-out bamboo window shades and I'm determined to make things out of them. Today it's jewelry!

I can't bring myself to throw the shades away. We purchased them 10 years ago for our bedroom and they've lived a good life, but they were falling apart and we had to take them down. Now, I see so much potential in them - for jewelry, furniture, and many other craft projects... my creative juices are flowing. This page represents my latest window shade inspired creation - bamboo jewelry links.

On this page, I'll explain how to create the links from window shade slats, then how to create jewelry pieces from those links.

All photos on this page are my own.

The Best Jewelry Making Tool Kit

9-Piece Beadsmith Deluxe Jewelry Pliers Ergonomic Tool Kit with Case
9-Piece Beadsmith Deluxe Jewelry Pliers Ergonomic Tool Kit with Case

This is an excellent tool kit! I started with a 5-piece kit and was missing some key tools without even realizing it. I had to go out and buy the extra tools that already come with this kit. The ergonomic design is important to me too, especially when I'm on a big jewelry-making kick. My hands definitely feel better when holding these tools. They're durable, and the case keeps them all together so the right tool is there when you need it!

 

Making Your Own Upcycled Links

Cut Links and Tools
Cut Links and Tools | Source

Cutting Pieces and Filing Down Sharp Edges

Needed for this step:

* 1-2 bamboo window shade slats

* Pliers with a wire cutter component

* Several emery boards

I decided I wanted my bamboo jewelry links to be 1 inch long. So, after removing the slats from the window shade, I measured my first link from the end and cut it using a wire cutter. I used a utility wire cutter built into a set of pliers (NOT my jewelry wire cutters; it's important to protect your jewelry wire cutters blades for finer work). After my first piece was cut, I used it as a guide for the rest of the pieces.

I cut about 60 pieces to start with. This gave me more than enough links to make the jewelry pieces I wanted and a few extra for the mistakes I was bound to make along the way.

Before I go any further, I used an emery board to file down any sharp edges and smooth over any parts that may have splintered when I was cutting the pieces. This gave me a chance to examine each link for flaws too. (Note: if you choose, you could save this step for after you drill the holes. That way you won't waste time filing links that have drilling errors.)

What else could you make links out of? - Because not everyone has a bamboo window shade to upcycle...

  • Twigs from the yard
  • Hardwood dowels
  • Strips of plastic soda or water bottle

Drilling Holes in the Links
Drilling Holes in the Links | Source

Drilling Holes in the Links

Needed for this step:

Jewelry connector links have at least one hole on each end. The bamboo pieces have just enough space for 1/16" holes. I put the links one at a time on a scrap of 2x4 so I could drill through without worrying about damaging the drill bit or the surface below. It didn't take long before I had all of the holes drilled.

Tips for the Tricky Parts:

* Don't get too close to the end, or it's very likely to split out.

* Find a comfortable position where you can both see clearly where you are placing the bit tip and get good leverage for drilling.

* Make sure your drill gives you good speed control. If the bit spins too quickly to start, it can split the end immediately. If you start slow, the link holds better.

All Your Upcycled Links - Ready to Become Jewelry!

All Your Upcycled Links - Ready to Become Jewelry!
All Your Upcycled Links - Ready to Become Jewelry! | Source
BLACK+DECKER LDX120C 20V MAX Lithium Ion Drill / Driver
BLACK+DECKER LDX120C 20V MAX Lithium Ion Drill / Driver

I read about this drill in Popular Science, where it was a top-rated tool. It's lightweight, has a long-lasting (rechargeable) battery life, and allows for great control with two gears and a responsive "trigger" for speed control within those gears. It's the perfect drill for precision projects as well as big projects. My husband and I both use it for tons of different things. All that, and you can't beat the price!!

 
BLACK+DECKER 15557 10-Piece Drill Bit Set
BLACK+DECKER 15557 10-Piece Drill Bit Set

This set includes the 1/16" bit that I used. They're tough bits and ready for the job!!

 

Do you like to make your own jewelry?

Do you like to make your own jewelry?

See results

Recycled Bamboo Links Necklace

Supplies Needed for the Necklace Project

30 Bamboo Links - Use more or less depending on the length you want your final necklace to be.

6mm Potato Shape Green Freshwater Cultured Pearl Beads Strand 15 Inch Jewelry Making Beads
6mm Potato Shape Green Freshwater Cultured Pearl Beads Strand 15 Inch Jewelry Making Beads

I used cultured freshwater pearls in a light green color because I think it's especially pretty with bamboo and the pearls have an earthy natural feel. Click on this link to search for whatever color pearls or other beads you like. I used 15 beads in my project.

 
Rockin Beads 400 Jump Rings Silver Plated Brass 6mm Round 18 Gauge Jewelry Connectors Chain Links
Rockin Beads 400 Jump Rings Silver Plated Brass 6mm Round 18 Gauge Jewelry Connectors Chain Links

Jump rings are the connectors for the connectors (so to speak). To use them, you twist - do not pull - the ring open (see how to video below). They're quick and easy and essential to most jewelry making projects. I used 105 in this project.

 
Links and Jump Rings
Links and Jump Rings | Source

Step 1: Adding Jump Rings

Add Jump Rings to Both Ends of Each Link - When adding jump rings, I used a flat-nose pliers and a chain nose pliers. Some people like to use the bent nose pliers. Use whatever is most comfortable for you. Whatever two pliers you choose, it's important to twist - not pull - the ends of your ring apart to open it up enough to add a jewelry component. Use the "how to" video below if you do not know how to use jump rings.

Jump Rings Video Tutorial

Pairing Links
Pairing Links | Source

Step 2: Pairing the Links

Connect Pairs of Links - You should definitely have the hang of using jump rings after all that practice in Step 1. This time it's even easier. I like having two bamboo links for every decorative beaded link, so Step 2 is connecting pairs of links. Use a jump ring to connect the rings at the end of two bamboo links together. I ended up with 15 pairs (There are 14 shown here, if anyone's counting).

Making a Beaded Connector Video Tutorial

Adding Beaded Links
Adding Beaded Links | Source

The Final Necklace - It's easy to make it as long or as short as you want!

The Final Necklace - It's easy to make it as long or as short as you want!
The Final Necklace - It's easy to make it as long or as short as you want! | Source

Step 3: Making Decorative Links and Adding Them to the Link Pairs

Making Beaded Links - Slide one cultured freshwater pearl (or bead of your choice) onto an eyepin. Follow the instructions in the video below to make it into a connector link with a loop on each end. You'll need a round nose pliers for this step. I made 15 beaded links for this project.

Putting It All Together - When your beaded links and the paired bamboo links are ready, use jump rings and your two sets of pliers to assemble a chain. Link one beaded link to the end of a bamboo pair with one jump ring. Link another bamboo pair to the end of that beaded link with another jump ring. Repeat until you have used all beaded links and bamboo pairs, and use the last jump ring to connect the two ends and close the chain.

The final necklace and some variations on the design are below.

Make It a Lariat Necklace

Open one end of the original necklace, double it over, and slip the ends through the loop.

Open one end of the original necklace, double it over, and slip the ends through the loop.
Open one end of the original necklace, double it over, and slip the ends through the loop. | Source

Make It a Bracelet

Wrap it over your wrist multiple times for a loose, loopy bracelet.

Wrap it over your wrist multiple times for a loose, loopy bracelet.
Wrap it over your wrist multiple times for a loose, loopy bracelet. | Source

Matching Recycled Bamboo Earrings

Supplies Needed for the Matching Earrings

  1. Sterling Silver Earwires - 1 pair
  2. 4 Jump Rings
  3. 2 Bamboo Links
  4. 2 Eyepins
  5. 2 Beads (of your choice)
  6. Jewelry Making Tool Set (including wire cutter, 2 chain nose pliers, and 1 round nose pliers)

10 pcs .925 Sterling Silver Ear Wire Earwires Hoop French Hook Earring Connector/Findings/Bright
10 pcs .925 Sterling Silver Ear Wire Earwires Hoop French Hook Earring Connector/Findings/Bright

.If there's one thing I learned while selling hand-crafted jewelry, it's that every woman with pierced ears has a certain style of earwire that is most comfortable for them. Click on this photo to choose this earwire or explore other earwire options for your project.

 
Bamboo Link Earrings Supplies
Bamboo Link Earrings Supplies | Source

Assemble Your Earrings

Create the Beaded Dangle - Using the same technique as the beaded connector video above, use the headpins to make a beaded decoration for the bottom of your earrings. Note: Use a head pin because you won't need a loop at the other end the way you did with the necklace.

Connect the Component Parts - Using your 2 sets of chain nose pliers and the jump rings, connect the bamboo links to the earwires, then connect the beaded decorations to the bamboo links.

Simple. Beautiful. Done. A photo of the final product is below.

Matching Earrings for the Bamboo Link Necklace

Matching Earrings for the Bamboo Link Necklace
Matching Earrings for the Bamboo Link Necklace | Source

Which final project do you like best?

Which final project do you like best?

See results

Thanks for any feedback!

I hope you found some inspiration here. - Please let me know what you think of these projects.

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    • profile image

      Jacobb9205 

      3 years ago

      Looks awesome!

    • AcornOakForest profile imageAUTHOR

      Monica Lobenstein 

      4 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      @erleneamat: Thank you so much for visiting! I love posting on Merry Monday.

    • profile image

      erleneamat 

      4 years ago

      My jaw just hit the floor. I'm amazed that you created such beautiful jewelry with the blinds. Thanks for sharing your tutorial on Merry Monday.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a great idea. Very creative.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 

      5 years ago

      I like your jewelry very much and marvel at your patience in doing such a lot of work to recycle the bamboo, which I love.

    working

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