Yes, white bread and glue.
I confess I didn't think this would work.
Unlike many of my other instructables, this one DID NOT start from a Pinterest pin. I saw it in a women's magazine and thought, "Why not? I've made things before and they've failed...at least this would be a pretty inexpensive craft if it didn't work."
I bought the cheapest loaf of white bread I could find and used our Elmer's and Elmer's-like glue we already had.
The result was some well spent time with my children, a lesson in patience for my daughter, and a cute handmade necklace that has been (at least for now) added to her jewelry collection.
Some things just don't have monetary value on them.
So a few notes before we move on:
- Our beads have lasted about three (3) weeks. I will update the instructable if (or more likely when) I see mold (if they make it that long in our house.)
- This project was done with a three and a half year old (3-1/2) girl, and seven (7)and two (2) year old boys. All of them had fun making the beads initially, but only my daughter seemed to enjoy painting them. That was just our experience though.
- The total time was about one-hour (1-hour) on the first day (Day 1, Steps 2-5) making the dough and beads, just under an hour (1-hour) the second day (Day 2, Step 6) painting the bead with a product called "Gesso" (a paint primer), just under an hour (1-hour) the third day (Day 3, Step 7) painting the beads different colors, and maybe fifteen minutes (15-min) the forth day (Day 4, Step 8) to string the beads on the cord. ---About three-hours and fifteen minutes (3-hrs, 15-min) over the course of four (4) days. ---
- I had to buy the Gesso paint primer and had a hard time finding it. I ended up getting it at the second Michaels Arts and Crafts store I went to, and paid about $7 for it (after a coupon.)
- I had all the other materials & tools (listed in Step 1.)
It really was a fun project and like I said, it worked!
Step 1: Materials & Tools
- White Bread, at least 12-slices (see notes on Step 2; we left the crusts on but the original article stated to remove the crusts)
- Elmer's Brand or other white School Glue
- Wax paper
- Styrofoam blocks (I used some floral blocks I had)
- Gesso Paint Primer (I bought Martha Stewart brand but the article stated that Plaid FolkArt also makes it)
- Acrylic paints
- Painting tools such as paper bowls for the paint, paper or plastic to cover your work space, and either sponge brushes or smaller paint brushes
- Plastic container or bowl (to mix glue with bread)
- Approximately 1-yard or so of elastic cording for a necklace and maybe 1/2-yard if you make a bracelet
Step 2: Break Up the Bread
I showed all my children how to tear up the bread.
Because I thought that this "experiment" would not work I left the crusts on the bread thinking that it couldn't hurt and we wouldn't waste the bread.
The bread was not nearly in the "tiny pieces" that the original instructions claimed to need, but we all tried to make the pieces small and if we do this again I will probably break the bread up in a food processor.
It was very difficult, actually impossible for me to keep track of how many slices we used. My children kept eating the broken pieces of bread up.
We used what I think was about 12-slices* of bread to make one necklace. We did not use the end piece. Save a piece to add after the glue.
*I got to that figure as I think my three children tore up four slices of bread each, as well as eating some if not all of one slice each. (I think.) I also looked at the remaining part of the bread and I think we started with about thirty slices, and even though I didn't count, a little more than half the loaf was gone.
The original instructions in the magazine stated that you would use twelve (12) slices of bread for a necklace and about two (2) slices of bread for a bracelet. I would say that would be accurate, but it also depends on what size you make your beads. Ours ended up about 1/2-inch or so wide, much bigger than the instruction photo showed of about 1/4-inch wide.
Step 3: Add Glue, Mash & Mix
The ratio of glue to bread is about one (1) tablespoon of glue to two (2) slices of bread. As each child had about four slices of bread in each individual bowl, we used two (2) tablespoons of glue per bowl.
I gave my children plastic forks to both mix up and mash the glue into the bread.
The two-year old was not able to mash the initial mixture by himself, but once we got to the ""mixing with the hands" part, he was totally into that.
I tore up pieces of wax paper to keep the area clean, and I also used one (1) more slice of bread to the three bowls. This made up for any of the pieces my children ate that I didn't account for.
Step 4: Shape the Beads
After letting my little one play with his dough, he got disinterested in the project and left to do something else.
We rolled the bread-glue dough into balls and then into a tube.
After getting the tube about 1/2-inch thick, we sliced the tube into pieces and rolled those individuals pieces into little balls to make the beads.
The final dough-ball size was about 1/2-inch wide.
I let my daughter do much of the work as I wanted her to be proud of the (still hopeful) necklace she would make.
We ended up with about twenty-six (26) dough balls.
Step 5: Place Beads on Toothpicks
Here's what we did:
- I stuck a toothpick in the center of each little ball (now bead) of dough.
- I had my daughter twist and turn the toothpick while inside each little ball of dough. You can see from one picture to the next that the hole has gotten bigger.
- Some of the beads got misshapen when my daughter moved the toothpick in and out of it, but I chose to keep some of those for posterity. (Some of the others I just re-made myself. Shhh! Don't tell her!)
- We left the beads on the toothpicks and placed them into the foam block to dry.
The directions were not clear to me on how to use the toothpicks to make the holes, but the above method seemed to work well.
Step 6: Paint Beads With Primer
Out of necessity, I let the beads dry three days. It was unintentional as the directions suggested to let the beads dry for 24-hours, but necessary because of our crazy lives.
BEFORE giving the bead to my daughter to paint, I tried taking it off the toothpick. Some of them just needed a little twist and the bead came right off, where some became sacrificial and did not come off at all. I lost two of the beads today (down to 24 total.)
The Gesso primer was suggested by the magazine instructions.
We used sponge brushes to paint the Gesso primer on the beads. We painted the primer very thick, even covering up holes and cracks that were either created by the drying process or just part of the original ball of dough.
I had the toothpicks handy to replace them if they were too dirty or too painted on.
We only painted one coat of the primer.
Step 7: Paint the Beads
After waiting 24-hours for the primer to dry, I again gave my daughter a sponge brush and we painted her beads in what she calls, "Hello Kitty colors."
She chose hot pink and two different colors of glitter paint, silver and light purple.
Again, I just let her paint them as she wanted to and helped with touching up some spots and putting them back on the foam block to dry. The glitter paint was clear with the colored glitter, and worked very well with the white primer painted on the day before.
The original instructions showed each bead in different colors using smaller paint brushes, something I knew she would not have been able to master at three and a half.
Step 8: String the Beads
Another 24-hours later, the paint was dry and I twisted the toothpicks off each bead. I lost another two (2) beads as the toothpicks would not come out of the holes.
Any paint chunks that might have been stuck to the toothpick were easy to pick off the beads, and I was careful not too pull too much paint off.
After taking all the beads off the toothpicks, I asked my daughter to make a pattern with the beads while I placed a "stopper" bead on the stretchy cording.
We worked together putting the beads on the cord in the pattern she created, and I tied the end with a double knot, then a square knot. The final count of beads on her necklace was twenty-two (22).
The original instructions stated that you could dab a piece of glue at the end to ensure that it doesn't come off, but I didn't do that in these photos.
The necklace itself reminds me of the one Wilma Flintstone wears. There's a possible costume use right there!