Shell Jewelry Tips

At one time or another, every surfer (or aspiring surfer) worth their cred tries to make their own beachy shell jewelry. It IS part of our primal urge. In fact, some of the earliest known forms of adornment were pierced shells and teeth on handmade string.

But after an hour after the Upper Paleolithic Revolution has worn off within the surfer, then he or she usually gives up and buys it somewhere.

But if you have a flat day of surf, and you’re

I love Pauly Shore

feelin’ a bit like Encino Man, here’s three tips I’ve found helpful over time when making shell jewelry…

 

 

 

1. Go to a thrift store for shell beads and pendants first.

watermarked1(2018-05-15-1328)

A nice shell necklace I found, but it’s too chunky and sharp to wear comfortably as a necklace

I love shell jewelry, but the current shell industry has now over harvested and overbred many species for the trade. I’ll pass on that choice first.

I’ve found MUCH higher quality shell beads among thrift store and vintage finds over purchasing recently grown and cut varieties. I’d rather buy my shells at the better vintage quality whenever possible, rather than contributing even more to the over harvesting problem. It’s kind of how I feel about pearls. Bonus that you can still get a deal at a few thrift stores these days. For now. The beach is always the great option, of course, but you will be drilling these yourself and removing natural items from the beach.

2. Use nylon or wire to string shell beads.

When shells are drilled for sale as beads, rarely is the inside diameter perfectly smooth, unless you pay a premium.

watermarked2(2018-05-15-1328)

The drill holes are clean, but at odd angles

watermarked3(2018-05-15-1328)

Various types of stringing material I use with shells 

Common shell beads will cut most cotton, hemp, or poly thread like a Ginsu knife. So, get some decent stuff that won’t cut nor fray easily, or your ocean cred probably won’t last da Summer.

Or….I guess you could

Bizarro Hasselhoff

say you sliced that freshie shell anklet you made on a shark’s tooth while saving the Mayor’s kid from the deadly riptide, you Gnar Lifeguard????

You’re welcome.

3. Check your shells for sharp burrs, and file them down before stringing.

I was warned by a lapidary long ago to ALWAYS WEAR A MASK when filing, sanding, or drilling shells. Excellent advice. The calcium carbonate particles are easily inhaled- along with whatever fun stuff that shell has absorbed. Use a bit of water to minimize dust, and go outdoors for the task preferably.

Sharp edges and burrs can often be removed using a decent nail file from the drugstore, a bead reamer from the craft store, or a rotary drill. It’s best to do this BEFORE staring a piece most times. After the piece is finished, it’s difficult to sand some areas typically.

watermarked4(2018-05-15-1328)

Keep a supply of water nearby to keep the shell wet while sanding or drilling 

watermarked5(2018-05-15-1328)

Various pieces polished and drilled

Enjoy trying out all the types of natural shell, seed, and nut beads available. If you really hate doing it yourself, though, this is a good time to plug my Etsy store where I post my random surfy jewelry (including shells), as well as projects and art I like to do. Surprise. I have an Etsy store. I think it’s mandatory for crafters.

Anywho….shell jewelry is cool since it’s nice to have a reminder that there’s a great big ocean out there and we get to be a part of it, if only for a vacation. I mean, that’s one of the beautiful things about surfing, right? Right???

img_1334

I guess you could make a surfer necklace from your sacred gym key

Blue Crush Wrap Bracelet

I’m totally a summer surfer chick. I hate winter, wetsuits, and the snot sniffles from cold wind and water. Easter’s almost here, which means we finally get to shake the snowbirds and tourists and log some serious morning longboard sessions. Schweet.

I’ll be thinking of my favorite fun summertime surfer chick movie, Blue Crush, and I’ll imagine that every mackin’ one foot wave I catch is Pipeline’s Wave of the Day. To complete my vision, I’ll make my knockoff version of the prop bracelet Ann-Marie wears in the movie just so I can get into my summertime frame of mind….

img_9448

Now, that’s some serious hemp….

For reference, I looked at the movie poster, stills from the movie, and even found a blog post that had a close up of the actual bracelet from the movie. It is a wrap style bracelet, so it’s one long piece of knotting wrapped around the wrist to look like several stacked bracelets. Soooo way cool, duuuude.

Heres the closeup of the actual bracelet from the Blue Crush movie:
img_9447

Supplies:

  • Hemp twine
  • Medium size glass or gemstone beads
  • Small to medium size bone beads
  • Two hole button for toggle closure
  • Glue (optional to secure knots)
  • Work surface (a clipboard or thick foam works well)
  • Clips or pins to hold your work in place while you knot

For info on the types of knots I used in this project, check out my little guide.

Here’s a picture walkthrough of the steps I did, but of course, you can mix it up to your surfy taste.

E2161CAC-F9F5-41D4-94C2-3816E71E3F95

Standard hemp twine and assortment of glass and bone beads similar to the ones in her bracelet

D1A49359-F080-44B3-8D42-A609B9AF2996

Attaching the two hole button and securing with a simple overhand knot

D9F8A08B-64C8-4154-BA21-A7779E7AF995

Using one LONG piece of hemp, I made a square knot sinnet a few inches down before stringing the first bead on

C254F64C-3D47-47A4-BA8F-6705D68ABE45

Continuing on with the square knot sinnet for an inch before stringing a bone bead on

40381FC5-B92B-4104-84C2-9FFC30AE43D0

The next section is made using a series of half hitches, creating a spiral sinnet

ECF74D61-F8EE-479F-BE45-9DFE7B73A328

In this section, I used the blue glass beads, similar to how the movie bracelet looks

27D76F68-1B22-4264-9BF4-095853D8D17D

In the next sections, I went back to the square knot sinnet and strung the other beads on at various intervals

4715463A-1270-4C86-9442-4B2024CB43E7

For the closure, loop on another piece of hemp and make overhand knots at intervals to allow the toggle to pass through. This also allows you to adjust the size

B80E5BAF-FF6F-4739-AF74-13EBBAF8365C

I had to make this pretty freakin’ long to wrap around my wrist 4 times like hers did, so it could also be a necklace

Done!

So, let’s see if I can make this look surfy enough to get me some cred going…..

324A1A2B-7907-40C1-AB44-4BCF82D602A5

Feeling the surfiness…..

I might not be ready to win at the Pipeline Masters, but I’m always ready for fun in da sun, which is all I want on my Bucket List….

DEF5E1FB-9FCA-460B-8DEA-B7612641866C

Don’t call them nuthuggers….they’re his “Tadatadas”!

Jan Brady’s Lucky Tiki Necklace

So, I hope you’ll agree with me that the best trilogy ever made wasn’t Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, but The Brady Bunch Hawaii Triology.

Greg’s da MAN at EVERYTHING that’s HOT

The thrilling storyline surrounds a big ass tiki necklace

I think Bobby always had adjustment issues

that Bobby finds at his Architect Dad’s construction site, but this necklace proves to be “bad luck” for the wearer. No doubt. It looks like they’re wearing a brick.

img_9315Jan Brady, usually the unluckiest of the clan, never gets a turn with this unfortunate soap-on-a-rope tiki necklace. So here’s my smaller, more feminine, and luckier tribute to Jan that can be worn in the surf or shower with no worries about rust. And you won’t bust your hip at hula either….just sayin’…..Alice…..

Did she still have to cook while on vacation?

I got this bone carved tiki man down in Key Largo years ago at a bead store that has sadly closed. For this necklace, I’m using the cord I made in my last post, a 4 strand braid.

I had a few flat disk toggles to choose from: a flat drilled bone disk, recycled glass, and a polymer clay one I made myself. I decided on the bone one for this project.

Bone, recycled glass, and polymer clay toggles

Next, I ran the end of the cord through the toggle and made a stopper knot:

After trimming off the excess, I singed the end with a lighter since this was made with nylon cord (do this outside- it’s smelly).

Melted the knot to secure

Next, I measured out how long I wanted the necklace (16 inches) plus an inch and 1/2 to make a loop for the toggle closure.

Doing the wrapping with nylon thread

Using C-Lon thread, I used a nautical knotting technique called whipping to finish the loop. Whipping takes some patience- especially when it’s with thread, so it good to practice a lot.

Whipping completed

After I trimmed the ends, I made sure to melt those ends as well to secure. Use a dab of jeweler’s glue if using other materials (double check for compatibility).

D048775D-ED41-417F-B71C-DE18F36EEC8E

Waterproof toggle complete

I wanted to secure the tiki man right in the center of the necklace, so I used the black C-Lon thread again to make a stitch into the braided cord and start looping over the cord and through the top angled hole of the tiki. I used a small knitting needle to leave some space between the cord and the top of the pendant.

Wrapping the thread around the cord

After removing the knitting needle, I did more whipping and made a vertical post, giving it extra security. I trimmed the ends and singed them with the lighter.

Whipping the post

Done!

Part of wants to me wants to wear it, but part of me is scared I might see this guy if I do….

Vincent Price was in this trilogy and made it SUPER creepy too. Remember him???

Surfer’s Jewelry Tray Pattern

It’s been super mega frosty here in Florida lately. The water has been extra cold this season, hovering right around 60 degrees F, which is right at my tolerance level limit in a 4/3 wetsuit. I’ve surfed in 55 degree water before, and it felt like tiny needles on my hands when I paddled. More motivation for me to NOT wipeout. I lasted for a whole TWO waves before I needed to bathe in some hot soup.

In winter, I have to remember to take all of my jewelry off, including my wedding ring. Cold water will cause you to lose a priceless ring faster than you can say “Shark!” Ask a few surfers- they’ll have stories. Not going to embarrass anyone in particular, but I did learn to take my jewelry off from hearing their stories. And around here, the littoral drift means you’re probably not getting it back.

So I wouldn’t forget where I left my stuff when I get back home from surfing, I made a simple little jewelry tray with some waxed Linhasita cord and some simple crochet techniques. This little basket could also be done in fine hemp, but it won’t shape and hold up as well as the waxed cord will.

Here’s the pattern I came up with if you’re so inclined….

Surfer’s Jewelry Tray Pattern

Made in continuous rounds. I crochet tightly, so I used a 2.0 mm hook for this project with the Linhasita, but you may want to size up or down, depending on how “nautical” looking you want it. The firmer crochet in a tan/sand gives it a fisherman’s basket look. To me.

This is also a good reference for using this type of pattern: Crochet Abbreviations

1st Rnd: 10 sc in Magic Ring (10 st)

2nd Rnd: Make 2 sc in first sc from 1st rnd, place a marker in the first sc in this rnd. Make 2 sc in next sc in rnd, and in every sc around. (20 st)

3rd Rnd: Make 1 sc in the first sc (place marker), 2 sc in the next sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (30 st)

4th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 2 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the third sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (40 st)

5th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 3 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the fourth sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (50 st)

6th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 4 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the fifth sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (60 st)

7th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 5 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the sixth sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (70 st)

8th Rnd: Make 1 sc in each of the first 6 sc (place marker in first sc), then 2 sc in the seventh sc. Repeat this pattern until the end of the rnd. (80 st)

Now, here we’ll start making the sides of the Tray. I’ll crochet just a hair more loosely on the sides, allowing some stretch.

9th Rnd: Make 1 sc in FLO of first sc. Repeat this for the entire rnd. (80 st)

This round makes the base for the side.

10th-14th Rnds: Make 1 sc in BLO of first sc. Repeat this for the entire rnd. (80 st)

Bind off, weave in ends.

Shape the tray, hand pressing the bottom flat and hand shaping the sides outward.

Starfish Accent

I riffed off of the original motif pattern which can be found at this website, or you can check out my other Motif post.

I used a bit of fishing line to sew the motif onto the tray, like it’s going up the side.

Ready to use! I put my 4Oceans bracelet in the pic. If you buy a bracelet, they claim they pull 1 pound of trash out of the ocean.

WHOA…..what if MY pound they pulled contained 100 surfers’ lost wedding rings? I want in on that action, so I bought one of these bracelets. Just waiting for a call when I win my pound of trash.

What? That’s not how it works?

Pearl Knotting

As a crafter who likes ocean related stuff, I’ve always been drawn to the natural look of pearls. It’s got to be the “Little Mermaid” fantasy, with the mermaid chick sporting her shimmering green tail, shell pink bra, and always present choker of pearls.

You’ll never unsee this


Pearls are the only gemstone created by an animal, usually a type of oyster (saltwater pearls) or mussel (freshwater pearls). On the Mohs’ Hardness Scale, the pearl rates about 3.5 (can be scratched with a coin), so it’s fairly soft in comparison to other gems. Because of this, pearls are most commonly used in necklaces, as opposed to rings or bracelets, which must be able to endure harsher wear.

For many beaders like myself, freshwater pearls can be affordable to use in projects. They make nice, beachy looking jewelry as well. Cultured freshwater pearls tend to be a little more misshapen since they are almost entirely made up of nacre with a very small starter seed at its’ center. Cultured saltwater pearls, however, tend to be a thinner, more uniform veneer of nacre over a much larger starter seed inserted into the bivalve. The Wikipedia on cultured freshwater pearls is very interesting, and worth a read.

I used dyed cultured freshwater pearls in this necklace

I’ve been pearl knotting for years, and it’s a nice skill to learn, albeit very tricky. Pearls strung on silk need to be restrung about every decade (depending on wear), so knowing how to CAREFULLY string and knot delicate pearls can be a nice side gig. Here’s a great tutorial on the proper way to restring and knot pearls well. Pearls are usually knotted to prevent them from rubbing against each other and losing their luster. With knotting, it’s practice, practice, practice. Because of the soft nature of pearls, you have to become a patient knotter….and unknotter. It can feel a little surgical at times.

Tip: Knotting using thicker cord and big, cheap plastic beads at first will help you get a feel for how everything should lay and look before you try it on tiny, delicate pearls!
Personally, I like to use nylon cord for stringing and knotting instead of silk (unless I’m restoring a piece) because it’s far more durable and has less stretch over time. You can buy small cards of nylon or silk with needles already attached, which means you don’t need to double your thread. Bonus. There’s also a few knotting tools which help greatly as well.

By mixing colors, and spacing the pearl grouping an inch apart, it made the necklace more beachy, and less stuffy

 
Handmade cultured freshwater pearl necklaces can be wearable and casual enough for everyday if you design them with a few things in mind:

  • Use pearls with irregular shapes for an organic look.
  • Avoid using all white pearls unless you’re channeling Donna Reed.
  • The greater spacing between pearls, the more casual the piece appears.
  • Combine multiple sizes and colors of pearls to avoid a standardized appearance.
  • Use contrasting or coordinating color knotting cord to accentuate the pearls.

Tree ornament

Try out your hand at this skill and get your inner Mermaid on….

I’m in it for the Dinglehoppers

Atoll Boards Sticker Pack + Bracelet Giveaway

Giveaway has ended! Congrats, Scrappy Yogi!

***

The dudes over at Atoll Stand Up Paddleboard Company sent me a pack of 15 stickers, so I figured I’d make it into a fun Monday giveaway for y’all who follow this crazy surfy goodness. I’m throwing in a Linhasita macrame Anchor bracelet I made as bonus surf cred. I’m really digging the buffalo on a surfboard logo. Isn’t it ironic? Don’tcha think?

15 ATOLL Board stickers, and a cool surfer bracelet duuuude


I’ve surfed on SUP’s a lot, but never an inflatable type like these Atoll’s. A friend of mine has one, but he travels around the world A LOT, so I could see where it could save on fees and hassle. You could even have your own bed with you when they cancel your flight. 

I see these used a lot for SUP yoga, and I think that’s smart for many reasons. There’s no way in hell I’m putting my ass over my head on top of an unanchored, free floating piece of hard fiberglass. Gimme the freakin’ NERF board.

Anywho, first person to answer in the comments WINS! I’ll announce the winner on this post, so check back! Thanks Atoll Boards, for da stickers!

************************

QUESTION: Where is Atoll Board Company located?

Answer in the comments below, first right answer wins! I’ll ship internationally, but not to prisons. Or clown colleges.

Don’t try this with an SUP, brah

Beaded Jellyfish Necklace

Ok, so I’m a girly surfer chick even though I’ll dabble with the power tools in the garage, and that’s…okay.

I tell myself this all the time

So, I’m going to totally plug my friend Karen’s surf wear company, Salty Sista Fun Wear. She uses some of the profits from the company to help shelter animals, which I think is awesome. She and her partner FLEW pet supplies and water filters (they rented a small plane!) into Puerto Rico to help support the Hurricane Maria disaster. Woo Hoo!

I recently I picked up another cute top from Salty Sista that had a jellyfish that my supa talented surfer chick friend Sandra Goodwin drew- it’s really beautiful. So I made a simple beaded jellyfish necklace to wear with it! Schweet.

*****

Supplies for the Jellyfish Necklace:

  • 11/0 Miyuki seed beads, in silver plated and pink shades to match the jellyfish motif for the necklace
  • 15/0 Miyuki seed beads, in pink shades, to make the jellyfish tentacles
  • A flat button or a somewhat flat piece of drilled seaglass, for the body of the jellyfish (get two and make earrings!). For this, I used a drilled flat bead made from recycled soda bottle glass. But, a plain, everyday button can certainly work.
  • Nymo thread, an extremely strong type of nylon beading thread (I usually use Size D)
  • Size 15 needles (since this project uses tiny beads)
  • Wire guards or French wire, keeps the thread from rubbing against the metal findings)
  • Fireline OR fishing line. If you can recycle any fishing line you have, it’s the same stuff as craft store Fireline (for necklace only)
  • Clasp, jump rings, or earring hooks, depending on if you’re doing a necklace or earrings

My supplies

Looping the thread through the wire guard and the glass bead

I threaded on random pinkish beads for the first tentacle

I threaded on an 11/0 bead as a stopper, then started back up the line of 15/0 beads

I kept making tentacles, 7 in total, random in length. I made sure to secure all knots with jewelry glue

Using Fireline and 11/0 seed beads to make the necklace

The completed necklace

With my new shirt

I really like how it came out like a mini tassel, which is a super popular look right now, so that works. Sorry for the lame modeling photo- I hope Salty Sista doesn’t mind, but it is my freakin’ shirt now, ya know….

Yeehaw!