DIY Painted Tribal Bracelets

DIY Painted Tribal Bracelets (2a)

Here’s the DIY I demonstrated in the Teen Vogue lounge at MAGIC– tribal-inspired bangle bracelets. I felt very Martha Stewart (call me!) as I had all my samples ready for each stage of the project.

To start you’ll need some wooden bangle bracelets. You can find them at the craft store or buy them online like I did from the aptly named I used the 1/4” wide bangles with the flat (as opposed to domed) exterior.


DIY Painted Tribal Bracelets (3)

The first step is to stain the entire bangle and unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this. I mixed a bit of brown or black acrylic paint with some white paint and water and brushed it on the entire bracelet. Then I grabbed a paper towel and wiped away the paint while it was still wet so the wood grain showed through. I did a slightly different paint mix for each bangle so that none of them are exactly alike but there’s no real science to it.

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To make a stencil for the pattern I used address labels. Just cut a sheet of labels into thirds and then cut each square diagonally to make two triangles. Cheap and easy!

DIY Painted Tribal Bracelets (5)

Stick the triangles onto your (dry or dry-ish) bangle and press the edges down firmly. Paint the exposed wood with as many coats of paint as you like- more coats for a brighter pattern or just one for a subtle, worn look.

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After the paint has dried peel off the triangle stencil stickers.

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The finished pattern!

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Make a stack and wear them all together!


  1. Nelle says:

    The request I’m about to make may not receive a warm response, but I’m wondering if you’d consider changing the title of your post? Maybe just to “tribal-inspired”, though geometric, stripe, wooden, or neon bangles may be less innocuous. These bracelets aren’t really indicative of any ethnic tribe’s art or jewelry, and calling them “tribal” may offend those who feel their culture is being appropriated. It’s just a suggestion. Right now in fashion there is a trend to call things “tribal”, “African”, or even by actual tribal names such as “Navajo”, without any accountability to these people and their culture. This isn’t a mean-spirited remark, but I do want to note the harm that can be done to a people when we strip meaning from their cultural objects and turn them around and use them in the name of fashion without concern for their origination. Thanks.

    • Alicia says:

      Hi Nelle – No stress, I appreciate your feedback. I’ve read a bit about this before and titled the project the way I did mostly because I thought that saying tribal was a way to reference the inspiration for the project but generic enough to not misappropriate any particular culture.

      • Nellie says:

        I appreciate you not taking it personally. It’s so hard to discuss these things without people feeling attacked.

  2. olugbemisola says:

    Great project, and I love the sticker technique. I very much appreciate Nelle’s comments, and agree. I’m not clear on the use of the word “tribal” here. Were the bracelets inspired by a particular ethnic group? I think it would be nice to indicate that in the post.

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