Camp craft: DIY wire-mesh jewelry holders with beads
These jewelry holders were the one original camp craft idea I had this year. When I discovered the different types of hardware cloth and chicken wire stacked in the back of Home Depot, my mind started churning out all kinds of projects I could make with them. Baskets and suncatchers were my first notions, but jewelry holders were more economical, practical, and fun for teenage girls. (This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a small commission. You can read my full disclosure here.)
I tried to make the project as easy as I could for the girls by pre-cutting the hardware cloth into squares and providing templates for the heart shape, but it was still a challenging craft. They stuck with it, though. And I’m happy to report that although working with wire has the potential for injury, no one got hurt. Except for me.
FYI: I’m planning more projects using hardware mesh, including a decorative light fixture, a Christmas ornament, and a basket.
Some girls got creative with the shape of their jewelry holders: butterflies, letters of the alphabet, flowers, etc. Complicated shapes were more work, but they were worth the effort. The girl above is making a butterfly. It turned out beautifully.
This sweet girl is a Giants fan, through and through. I’m glad I bought enough orange beads.
How to make a wire mesh jewelry holder with beads
SUPPLIES & TOOLS
1. Unroll the hardware cloth. Using wire cutters or tin snips (the latter is faster and easier), cut a piece of the mesh to the desired size. We started with 8-inch squares. Trim as close as you can to each closed mini square. Trim off the pieces of wire that stick out.
Tip: You might want to use gloves for this part because the mesh can tear up your hands.
2. Bend the piece of mesh flat. Using wire cutters, trim off pieces to create your desired shape (circle, heart, letter of the alphabet, etc.) or just leave it as a square or rectangle.
3. For the sturdy wire frame: Bend a piece of 18-gauge wire around the outside edge of your shape. Get as close as you can to the shape, but don’t worry if it doesn’t stay in place (we’re going to lash it to the wire mesh next). Cut the wire about six inches longer than you think you need.
Tip: If your shape doesn’t involve any diagonals (e.g. a square or rectangle), a sturdy wire frame is optional.
4. Cut a piece of thin colored wire about double the length of your 18-gauge wire frame. You’re going to thread beads onto this colored wire and wrap it around the 18-gauge wire frame and sew it to your mesh. To do that: Starting at the bottom, thread your wire halfway through one mini square front to back.
5. Then string your first bead (or seashell) onto the wire, bring the tip of the wire around to the front, and thread through the next square. Holding the other half of the wire firmly in place, slowly pull tight. Make sure the bead is in the front, and try not to add kinks in the wire.
6. Repeat step 5 until you reach the last couple inches of your colored wire. Using pliers, wrap the end of the wire tightly around your frame a few times to anchor it. Cut off the excess wire with wire cutters. (The photo above is a view from the back.)
7. Take the other loose end of the wire and start wrapping in the same way in the other direction until you reach the last couple inches of the colored wire. Wrap the end again as in step 6.
Tip: It’s easier to work with a shorter piece of wire, instead of cutting one long piece in the beginning that will go all the way around. The picture above shows how far I got with my first piece of wire.
8. Cut a new piece of wire several feet long. To start where you left off, wrap the end of the colored wire around the frame a couple times, then start sewing again as normal.
9. When you reach the top, you can make a few beads dangle down, as shown. Just wrap the wire around the frame once, and string it through your beads. Then run the wire back through the beads and out the top. Wrap the wire around the frame once more, then keep sewing around the edge. When you reach the end, wrap the wire again as in step 6.
10. You can either make a hanging loop with a piece of colored wire (wrapping it around the frame a few times to anchor it) or you can use the extra 18-gauge wire to make a loop. On the left, I made a double loop of 18-gauge wire. On the right, I used colored wire to make the loop.
11. Cut 18-gauge wire into 2-inch-long pieces. Using round pliers, bend the wire into S-hooks. One side should be a tight curve (for hanging on the mesh), the other side should be wide or double-bend curve (for hanging your jewelry). Trim as necessary. Make as many S-hooks as you need to hang your necklaces, bracelets, etc.
12. Hammer a nail into the wall, hang your jewelry holder, attach your S-hooks, and fill with your jewelry. You’re done!
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