Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead

I love a book that gets me inspired to look at objects around me in new ways. Author Kelly Angeley does just that when she takes everyday things that could be found in your own home and turns them into some pretty unconventional components in Explorations in Beadweaving: Techniques for an Improvisational Approach . Then, using peyote stitch, herringbone stitch, right-angle weave, bead embroidery, and combinations of these, she creates one-of-a-kind pieces that become unique keepsakes for the wearer.

Inspired by this approach, I went on a scavenger hunt around my house looking for objects I could bead. Together, with some of Kelly’s funky finds, we’ve got a great list to get you started beading with unusual components.

10 Unusual Components for some Beadweaving Fun

Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Lariat shows you how to embellish porcelain sink faucet knobs with herringbone stitch.

1. Porcelain bath fixtures
Kelly’s Everything but the Kitchen Sink Lariat uses herringbone stitch to turn vintage sink knobs into bold beads with two tasseled ends.

Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead

Save unique metal caps from the wire cages on bottles of champagne or sparkling wine.

2. Sparkling wine and bottle caps
Some bottles of champagne and sparkling wine have cool surprises under their foil caps. Wrapped in a wire cage and used to hold the cork in place, I collect the metal caps with unique images. I think they’d be great paired with bead embroidery. You could also use colorful vintage bottle caps, too!

3. Corks
I probably wouldn’t use champagne corks for beading since they have such a bulbous head to them, but wine corks could work! A quick drill through the center lengthwise and you’ve got a really unique bead to add to a finished design.

Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead

Little girls’ hair clips and broken barrettes could have pretty embellishments worth beading.

4. Hair clips and broken barrettes
My daughter loved hair clips and barrettes when she was little, but has abandoned them now that she’s a teenager. I can see popping the pretty bits off her hair clips and beading up something sweet for her baby book.

Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead

Kelly’s Metropolitan Guild necklace turns pieces of cut glass into flat back cabochons and special keepsakes.

5. Cut glass pieces
When I first saw this piece in Explorations in Beadweaving I did a double take. Would you believe that top component that says “Metropolitan” is actually glass cut from a vintage cocktail shaker? It is! Now I know what to do with my overflowing cupboard of souvenir glasses.

6. Pillbox lids
My mother has a beautiful collection of antique pillboxes. I’ve seen lids embellished with everything from micro mosaic tile work to ornate metal embossing to intricately embroidered scenes. They’re rarely bigger than 2″ in diameter. At estate sales, Mom will leave behind the boxes that have damaged closures. Next time I’m picking up the broken ones and using that lid for beadwork!

Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead

Doesn’t everyone have a big old jar of miscellaneous buttons?

7. Vintage buttons
While not the most unconventional item on the list, my big old jar of vintage buttons caused me pause when on my scavenger hunt. With a wide variety of sizes, shanks, and materials, there’s a wealth of possibilities for pieces to bead with when it comes to buttons.

8. Fabric tape measure
I’m not only a beader and jeweler, I’m also a knitter. I have a bunch of retractable fabric tape measures in various notions bags around the house. I remembered I recently used one of those tape measures to death and have frayed the pull to the point that it’s hanging by a thread. I’m going to pull out the tape measure, cut it from the spool, and bead it into a really cool wrap bracelet.

Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead

Kelly Angeley turns lovely vintage brass drawer-pull hardware into a show stopping design.

9. Drawer plates and pulls
My, oh, my, did furniture makers of the past now how to make a dresser drawer shine, or what? The back plates of drawer-pull hardware can be found in a range of materials and levels of ornate style. Kelly used a vintage brass pull in her Orbital Pull necklace for a show stopping design.

Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead

Broken clocks can be a treasure trove of parts for repurposing.

10. Old clock parts
I have a soft spot for old clocks. Many no longer tell the time, but as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day! I imagine the insides of this oldie but goodie could be a treasure trove of parts for repurposing in beaded jewelry.

More Unusual Components

Help me grow my list of unusual components to bead. What’s the craziest finding you’ve worked with? Share with us in the comments below or use the hashtag #unusualcomponentstobead on social media!

-Kerry Bogert
Editorial Director, Books

Join Kelly Angeley in an improvisational approach to beading.



  1. Susan C at 7:00 am June 12, 2017

    A pendant which was created from bead embroidery around a water spigot knob.

  2. Jenifer T at 7:45 am August 4, 2017

    Fun little article, thank you! I am a teacher of repurposed art. I will use pretty much anything if it is interesting enough…even if it isn’t…it can be! But, my favorite piece I made was with my uncle’s 1930’s sterling bar bottle tags. There are so many different kinds. Metal and ceramic are my faves. Add some old rhinestone pieces from Gramma’s broken jewelry and voila!

  3. Alana H at 10:00 am August 4, 2017

    I love rooting through the workshop for all sorts of components for my jewlery making.

    I have a drawer in my beading supplies especially for bike chain links, which can come in many colours these days. My son is studying to be a diesel mechanic and I have told him to not throw out all the old small parts on his jobs, springs, nuts, bearings, gears, washers, wires and whodingies! (Things he knows the name of but I do not, but look cool in my art and jewlery making! )

    My husband is a paramedic. I also can find some items in his jump kit that can be useful for my art….especially syringes for injecting resin into my bead molds ….or nice sharp needles with a very fine point for undoing tight knots and tangles in my thread…..and then of course a bandaid or two for using those needles a little too well! 🙂

    • Alana H at 10:07 am August 4, 2017

      Oh! And I almost forgot my latest find! Old DVD-Rs! The holographic film in the middle of the dvd can be used for some pretty cool projects…(I have been using resin and polymer a lot lately) ….and the remaining purple plastic can also be cut out and used to make some fantastic pendants…throw in a heat gun and you can make some awesome pendants and beads! 🙂

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