Friday, September 11, 2009

Guest Blogger: Katie Maxwell of de MANO Designs

Katie Maxwell of de MANO Designs was kind enough to share her design expertise with Wed Michigan and teaches us how to make simple bead bracelets for your wedding party!


Making the jewelry for your wedding day is a great way to save money, whether it’s for yourself, your bridesmaids, or both!

If you’ve never made jewelry before and don’t want to invest a lot into specialty tools, making simple stretchy bracelets is a very easy and inexpensive way to get started. Remember, the smaller the beads you choose, the longer it will take you to string each bracelet. Seed beads may be inexpensive, but it will take quite a few of them to complete one bracelet! On the other hand, if you choose beads that are too large and heavy (like semi-precious gemstones), you may risk ruining the integrity of the stretchy stringing material.

Beading has become a very popular hobby, and the selection of beads at the chain craft stores have vastly increased over the past few years. Of course, if you have an actual bead store in your town, be sure to take advantage of their unique inventory and expertise. If you have a very specific color or type of bead in mind, there are also great resources online. Two websites that I use quite frequently are (free shipping and handling!) and I work with a product called Stretch Magic that I can get at the local craft stores (I’ve even seen it in the craft aisles at larger chains like Meijer and Walmart). It comes in a variety of diameters. The one I find to be the most versatile is the 0.7mm diameter size. It seems to fit most bead holes and is still sturdy enough to hold its own with most beads. If you’re working with more delicate beads (especially pearls, which are notorious for having very small hole sizes), you may want to purchase the 0.5mm size.

For an “average-sized” wrist, cut a 10” length of Stretch Magic. This assumes a wrist diameter of about 7” with an extra 1.5” on each end. What’s great about making them yourself is you can customize the size to each of your bridesmaids so each girl has a piece that will fit her comfortably. Adjust the 10” length up or down a bit as you see fit for each wrist size. Before stringing your beads, fold a piece of scotch tape over one end of the Stretch Magic to act as a “stopper.” This is very easily removed when you’re done with your design.

To finish off your beautiful bracelet, simply tie the ends together as you would a balloon (this is where the extra 1.5” of material on each end will really come in handy!). Make sure your knot is tight and dab on some clear nail polish, super glue, or whatever clear adhesive you may have handy. If you’re making quite a few of these bracelets (like a couple per girl for a bold look), you may want to purchase the specialty jewelry glue called GS Hypo Cement. It has a very small applicator tip that makes it really easy to get into the small spaces. When the glue is dry, trim the excess close to the knot and give your crafty self a pat on the back!

Overwhelmed by the idea of making all of the pieces yourself? Organize a girl’s night in and make a party of it! Purchase all of the supplies and beads ahead of time, put out a few munchies and prepare for a fun time bonding over beads!

Katie Maxwell is owner and designer of de MANO Designs in Portage, Michigan. She has been making handmade jewelry for nearly ten years and loves working with brides to create custom pieces for the special day and beyond! She can be contacted at

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