Free Wooden Bangle Project for Summer

It’s Summer! In honor of this fun season, I’ve decided to share one of my favorite projects to make outdoors — a unique bangle project using a cool technique. Well, to be truthful, part of the “making” needs to take place indoors, but there is one particular step that needs to take place outdoors, and more specifically, in the sun! Curious? Read on!

It’s super-easy to customize a plain wood bangle with a pattern done in light-sensitive dye. First you’ll want to select a pattern you like. Have a look at a favorite fabric, wrapping paper, or clip art, for example. Or you can draw your own design freehand!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the red bangle shown above:

  • Swarovski Elements crystal golden shadow 4mm flat-back crystal chatons
  • A natural 1 3/4″ wide wood domed-exterior bangle (from,
  • Light-sensitive dye in red and orange (Inkodye brand from Lumi,
  • Black paint marker (from Michaels,
  • Wood varnish (from Michaels,
  • Jewelry cement
  • Plastic wrap
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Paint palette or plastic lid
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pan or bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Rag or paper towel
  • Pliers or tweezers

Step 1: Create the mask by cutting a 3-1/2 X 11″ piece of plastic wrap. Use the paint marker to trace or draw your desired design onto the plastic wrap. Let dry and trace over it again to make sure it is very dark. Remember, the black part of your design will appear reversed out once exposed to sunlight, meaning it will be the color of the wood bangle.

Free Bangle Project for Summer


**It’s important to note that for Steps 2–5, you must work indoors and away from natural light.

Step 2: For the red bangle shown in the beginning, I used equal amounts of red and orange dye on my palette and used a paintbrush to mix them together; however for the peach example shown below, I used the orange dye only.

Free Bangle Project for Summer

Step 3: Brush the dye onto your bangle in even strokes.

Free Bangle Project for Summer

Step 4: Use a rag or paper towel to wipe away excess dye from the bangle until it is dry to the touch.

Free Bangle Project for Summer

Step 5: Wrap the plastic wrap tightly around the bangle, folding it around the top and bottom edges, and tape it to the inside.

Free Bangle Project for Summer

Step 6: Here’s the fun part—the part where all the magic happens! Set the bangle outside in direct sunlight for 8 minutes. See the fun color starting to appear? Now turn the bangle over and repeat, making sure all sides are exposed for 8 minutes each.

Free Bangle Project for Summer

Step 7: Bring the bangle indoors and remove the plastic wrap. Soak the bangle in a pan of very hot water and dish soap for 20 minutes, using a clean paintbrush to scrub the unexposed (noncolored) areas of the pattern every few minutes. Remove the bangle from the water and let dry.

Free Bangle Project for Summer

Step 8: Use a paintbrush to apply wood varnish to the bangle to provide protection and a light sheen. Let dry. Repeat to apply a second coat.

Free Bangle Project for Summer

Step 9: If desired, affix the chatons to the bangle in a random pattern using the jewelry cement.

Free Bangle Project for Summer

Light-sensitive dye can be used for all sorts of crafty things, so have fun experimenting!

And, just as you might take a favorite book or a pair of knitting needles and yarn to an outdoor picnic, there are many types of jewelry projects that are portable as well. First check out this FREE video by former Beadwork editor, Melinda Barta, on how to build a portable bead studio so you can take your beading anywhere!

Then try any of the summer-friendly projects shown below. Why not make an excuse to spend some relaxing time in the sun and take your beading (and your new portable bead studio) outdoors!

Have fun!


Photo credits: Red bangle: Joe Coca. All other photos: Ann Swanson.

Get these other summer inspired products in our store then get outside and enjoy!

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