Nifty Knotting: 4 Different Looks with Knotted Cords and Ribbons

When I don't have an idea for a specific jewelry design, I like to pick a technique and repeat it with several different beads and materials.  After making a few samples, I'll often get the spark of an idea for a necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings.   Today I'm sharing my recent experiments with making overhand knots between beads using four different cords or ribbons. 

Four Ideas for Knotted Cords and Ribbons

Sari Ribbon
This popular ribbon is made from recycled bits of bright silk from the factory floors in India.  It's very lightweight and frays easily.

How I used it:  This is a wide ribbon, so you'll need to use beads with larger bead holes like these vintage Lucite rounds.  I folded the end of my ribbon to make it a little narrower to fit through the bead holes. Then I used my chain-nose pliers to gently pull the ribbon through the hole.  The ribbon provides a strong burst of color between the dark beads.  (The ribbon frayed so much that you can't see the shape of the knots.  Trust me, they are there!)  The combination of the lightweight beads and ribbon would make a fun boho necklace for the weekend.

Metallic Leather Cord
This 2mm leather cord is fairly stiff.  The metallic finish gives it a subtle shine. The cord comes packaged with gold and silver versions, in addition to the bronze one I used here.

How I used it:  When knotting I used two strands of cord to hold the large-holed faceted glass beads in place.  I like the juxtaposition of the casual leather cord and the sparkling beads.  The stiffness of the cord would make it perfect for a bracelet to wear on those occasions when when you want to dress up little, but not too much.

Silk Cord
Silk cord is traditionally used for knotting pearls.  The idea behind knotting in between each pearl on a necklace is that if the necklace breaks, you won't loose all the pearls on the strand.  The cord comes in a range of sizes, from tiny size 0 to a thick size 16. (Pictured here is a size 1 or 2.)  The attached needle that comes with this cord makes it easy to string beads with small holes such as pearls or crystals.

How I used it:  I used red cord with matching red glass bicones.  The tiny knots here are subtle, more functional than decorative.  You may need to use tweezers to position the knots in place before tightening.  (Since I couldn't find my tweezers, I inserted a head pin into each knot and gently moved it into place.)  This cord has a nice drape and would make a classic necklace for wearing to the office. 

Nylon Cord
This Chinese .8mm nylon cord holds knots exceptionally well.  If you work with it extensively, you may notice that over time it frays at the tip, making it difficult to string beads.  Just snip off the frayed portion with scissors and continue stringing.  This cord works well with large-holed beads.

How I used it:  I used three colors (yellow, aqua, green) to add color in between orange imitation sea glass beads.  Notice that I'm only using one cord to string the beads; the holes are too small to accommodate more than one cord at a time.  This sample would make summery earrings or a colorful necklace.

Of course, there are many more cords and ribbons available than what I covered here, including silk ribbon, linen cord, hemp, bamboo cord, lace, organza ribbon, and leather lace. Each one will inspire a different type of jewelry.  I hope I've convinced you that you don't need to have a specific idea in mind when you sit down with your beads.  You just need to pull out a few materials, pick one technique, and play! 

I used resources from my personal stash for this blog post.  Navy Lucite rounds (The Beadin' Path) and similar sari ribbon (Lima Beads); Metallic cord and glass beads (Michaels); Imitation sea glass (Znet Shows) and nylon cord (Baubles and Beads); Linen cord ( and red glass bicones (Michaels).

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