I started off with paper beads and then once I had got the technique down, I tried my hand at other materials. I soon turned my old clothes and any other fabrics I could get my hands on (including my Mum's old settee cover)into beads. I also found that all that Diet Coke I love wasn't so bad after all, I even turned my hand to making soda can beads, you can find my tutorial on that here.
So what will you need?
•A pair of old jeans
•Cocktail sticks (or similar)
•Coffee stirrers (or the like)
•Liquid glue, PVA is best
•Polystyrene or something to hold your sticks
Ok, so to start off we need to cut the jeans, this is both scary and exciting the first time you do it, and you may feel a bit bad about it!
**Hey, we don't need the bum bit of the jeans so if you fancy making yourself a pair of shorts then cut to your taste first.
What we're looking to get is as close to the seam as possible, all the way up the leg. Cut horizontally across the top of the leg (be careful if you're making those shorts, you big hussy) so that you're just left with the legs. Don't worry too much about getting a super smooth and straight cut at this point, what we want here is to just cut out the seams.
Coolio, so now we're ready to cut and roll.
I found that a 20cm strip seems to work best when rolling denim, if you've rolled beads before then you'll know just what I mean here. If not, well, the width and length of your bead strips will play a big part in the final shape of your bead. I prefer the traditional bicone look, but you can experiment with different widths and lengths and see which ones you like best, sometimes a project can call for a different mix of shapes and sizes of bead, so it's good to have a play around. I adore making cone beads, but as I've already cut, rolled and shot all this, we're doing bicone, flip damn it.
*Note to self, think ahead in future ☺
Ok, so 20cm length and 2cm width (ish) is pretty much the sweet spot for jean beads. I recommend cutting a rough 20cm square at a time. If you try and cut the whole leg into strips at once it gets a bit awkward to hold and you'll lose accuracy with your scissors.
Now, don't be getting all obsessive with your rulers here, unless you have some serious time to kill, you'll soon be cutting those bad boys like you've been doing it all your life, if they're not exact it doesn't matter.
WARNING ~ Graphic bad nail varnish pic below
Right, so now you've cut your strips, get your glue, cocktail sticks, and one of those Costa coffee stirrers you've been hoarding. Roll the thick end of the bead strip a little around the cocktail stick and put a blob of glue as close to the base as possible without ending up just gluing it to the stick. Then roll it up a bit between your thumb and forefinger or middle finger, whichever feels most comfortable to you.
*I hold the bead between my thumb and forefinger and twist the stick with my other hand.
The taper should be in the middle , keep adding small blobs of glue as you're rolling all the way to the end. You don't need to smother it with glue as this will just end up bleeding out of the edges, just enough to hold the shape. Once you've wound the whole strip up, tap the end (which should now be in the middle of the bead) with your stirrer (not the glue end) to flatten it down to get a better stick. Once you're happy it's glued properly, stab it in the polystyrene to dry off.
*If you're not happy with the shape, you can still unwind and adjust at this point, just add a bit more glue as the first coat may have soaked in a bit too much to get a good grip a second time.
Leave the beads to dry for a good few hours, I tend to leave a full day but just see how you go. The best why to check if they're fully dry is to give them a bit of a squeeze. If they're soft and squidgy then leave for longer but if they're hard and rigid then they're good to go.
And that ladies & gentlemen, is how to turn your old jeans into denim beads! If you fancy it, then why not get your paints out and make some patterns on the denim before you cut and roll. The possibilities are endless, here's a few different styles I made.
I'd love to see what you make with your beads, let us know in the comments. Any questions, I'm happy to answer, too.