These bracelets began as a make-and-take at the Portland Mini Maker Fair in 2018, and have become a fun, simple way to get kiddos working with filament. They work up so quickly, we've even used them as promotional materials for trade shows!
Be sure to stock up on beautiful colors for your beads! Once your bracelets are finished, post some photos to Instagram with #protopasta for a chance at being featured in our Top 9 and 10% off your next order!
-1 inch PVC pipe, 12-18" in length
-2.85mm conductive filament
-assorted beads (.stl attached for the simple bead needed for making the bracelet base)
-1" masking tape
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Step 1: Step 1: Making the Bracelet Base
We found this method to be a fairly simple way to make multiple bracelets at a time, while also forming the conductive filament into a tighter circle more fitting for a bracelet.
First gather up your supplies, shown in the first image.
Using one of the beads from the attached .stl file, secure it to one end of the PVC pipe with masking tape.
Slipping the conductive filament through the bead, secure the end with masking tape. Lightly hold the filament in place with your left thumb; pressing too firmly could snap the filament. Then begin twisting the pipe with your right hand to wind the filament tightly. Be sure to hold the filament down with your left hand so it doesn't come springing back.
Once you've wound the filament along the length of pipe, cut it free and pull off the giant spring you've created. We found that about two full twists is a good size for the bracelet, so start snipping!
Now you'll have a nice little pile of bracelets ready for Step 2...
Step 2: Step 2: Beading
You'll first want to choose your beads. We used a selection of beads, the first being a simple 9mm cylinder with a 4mm hole. These are the easiest to print, making about 100 in an hour, so if you're looking for mass production, this is the way to go!
The second set of beads were actually gems I found on Thingiverse (Thing:2895194), then modified them in Tinkercad so they would have a hole. I made these holes a bit small (3.5mm), so they aren't very loose around the curve of the bracelet. If going this route, I would recommend a 4mm hole like our simpler beads above.
There are TONS of options already out there, but it's also fun and easy to design your own. Have fun!
Step 3: Step 3: Securing
This is where it gets a little tricky, and slightly dangerous. Kiddos, get your parents!
Select your beads and string them on first. Then holding the end closest to the beads, CAREFULLY use a lighter to slightly melt about 1.5in of the conductive. This requires slow, even heat across the filament, and only takes a few seconds. You'll see the filament start to get slightly matte or cloudy, and the curve will begin to straighten. That's when you know it's ready. If it gets floppy, you've melted it too much. If it's still curved, it's not melted enough.
Once it's melted, you'll wrap the melty end around the bracelet, pushing the filament away from you. The filament will be warm, but not hot enough to burn you. Wrap it around twice, then hold it in place as it cools.
*As a side note, if the filament is a little too melty, it may warp or melt the bracelet loop, and get stuck in place. The knot should be able to move freely, so one little trick we've discovered is to slide the knot back and forth as it cools.*
Now flip the bracelet around so the loose end is towards you (otherwise your bracelet gets twisted), and slide the beads over to the knot you've just made, making sure the beads stay trapped between to the two knots. Repeat the melting/wrapping process with the loose end.
That's it! We hope you had fun making our bracelet. Don't forget to post your creations to Instagram with #protopasta for your chance to be featured in our #top9 and get 10% off your next purchase!