DIY Costa Rica Style Surfer Bracelet

I grew up in Kentucky, so growing up in the surfing and beach lifestyle is something I’ll never understand. I still giggle at the “dude”, “brah”, “Yewwwww!”, and myriad other lingo thrown around. On top of that, you must know the correct things to wear, in and out of the water, the latest hot surfers on tour, AND where the best local sandbars are located during the full moon at high tide.
Yay! Surfing is fun! No wonder people find it a touch intimidating.

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Oh, ROXY, you make it look so easy…

I remember learning to surf in a bikini, like all the ROXY ads showed. Quickly, I started to put it together that surfing in bikinis only work if you are:

  • An experienced longboarder,
  • Skinny,
  • Surf tiny, sloping waves, OR
  • Have glue in your suntan lotion

Since at this point- being middle aged- I no longer sport a bikini, but it’s fun to be trendy sometimes to the surfiness. Even if it’s only for the Summer.

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I like the Pura Vida (meaning literally “Pure Life” in Spanish, but translates into more of a life concept) bracelets, which are popular with a lot of surfers. Duuuuuude. Their business model is that they provide jobs for Costa Ricans, and they also have charity bracelets that give a portion of sales to various groups, like Save the Orcas, Autism Awareness, and so on.
Most of their standard bracelets run $5.00 each. They’re made from a few strands of Linhasita cord (high quality waxed cord NOT in your standard craft store, but affordable). They also have a tiny charm. That’s a HUGE profit margin.
Please someone correct me, but as I’m aware, the company was started by ex-pats to employ Costa Ricans, but it is STILL a business first. The charity funds they disclose on their website total less than a million dollars. They’ve sold A LOT of five dollar bracelets. I have three- I’m kind of peeved that after more than 10 years no more than that has been donated to charity.
Then I remembered- the best way to give to charity is to give your time and money directly, not purchase stuff in the hope the business passes it along. The businesses end up looking like heroes, and you don’t really know where your money went.
Ok, I said all that to say this:
So you can free up real money to give to charity, here’s a much cheaper version of some surf cred for ya.
It took me a while to figure out that the company uses a special type of waxed cord called Linhasita. It holds up in water far better than hemp or regular waxed cotton, plus is EXTREMELY colorfast. It’s not very expensive, but I’ve never seen it at a chain craft store.
When I first ordered some, I got it from Etsy, but since it came from Guatemala it took three weeks and my cord was all tangled up from customs rifling through the package in transit. THAT’S why it was free shipping…..
Since then, I’ve ordered from Amazon, but I always check to make sure it says “Linhasita” cord. There’s also direct through their website, linhasita.com.
I studied my Pura Vida bracelets to see how they are constructed, and added my own spin.

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First, I wanted to incorporate a cowrie shell into the bracelet, and I had one that was cut so it had a flat back so it would lay flat against the wrist. I used several complimentary colors for the cord.
I measured out about 16 inches of cord, making 4 total lengths of cord. I cut the length in half, then took each half and folded those in half. I pinned these to my foam macrame board to make sure I had the lengths even.

 


Next, I looped one of the folded cord lengths from the back to the front of the cowrie shell, and did a lark’s head over to one side. I did this to the other side as well.

 


Next, I pinned the shell to the board, measured down one side about two inches down, and tied a square knot at that point. I did this on the other side.


I cut the green cord ends past the square knot and burned the end with a lighter, smashing the ends down into a little flattened end where the square knot doesn’t slip off. GO OUTSIDE to burn the cord if you do this. It’s smelly and bad for you to sniff. Duh.
I did this on both ends.

I pinned the bracelet back onto the foam board. I took the two cords used to square knot an end, and started twisting both in the same direction as the twist direction it’s already going in. Remember doing that with a string and a pencil during English class? Then the string wrapped back onto itself twisting the other way? That’s what I did. I twisted the two cords really tightly on their own, then by twisting them together in the opposite direction locks the cords. In spinning, this is called plying. A yarn can be 1 ply, 2 ply, and so on. I slipped a little seahorse charm onto one of the cords before plying it.

imageOf course, I did this to the other side, overlapped these cords, and made a few square knots to make a sliding knot closure like the other bracelets use. I used a short length of purple, then singed the ends off with my Thread Zap tool (outside!).

Here’s a side-by-side of my Pura Vida bracelets on the left, with the new one I made on the right.

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Originals on the left, my version on the right.

Here’s the same bracelet in fashion shoot mode….

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“So yeah, so bro, my gnar airs are improving after wearing this magic shell. I think it has, like, ocean powers and stuff. I think it keeps sharks away too, ya know?”

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