DIY Tribal Necklace

I’ve been really interested in all of the tribal and ethnic inspirations in fashion lately. (As if the printed pants didn’t make this obvious…) This project was a way to combine that with something I always have laying around- maps.

I like maps- they are so pretty. I can hardly bear to throw away even the freebie ones where things like T.G.I. Fridays and Hard Rock Cafe are marked more clearly than the actual landmarks. This vacation I did much better but one map still snuck it’s way back to the US from London. (Yeah, London didn’t make the trip photos… I was tired of carrying the DSLR by that point.) We didn’t buy any souvenirs there either, so I decided to make this map into a memento of sorts.

I cut the map into long skinny triangles that were 1 inch wide on the bottom and narrowed to a point on the top. Each strip was about 22″ long, the width of the map. Then I used a bamboo skewer to roll the paper into a bead and secured with two coats of Mod Podge. (I popped the beads off the skewer before the glue dried to be sure they didn’t get stuck.)

I used a headpin and small spacer bead (to keep the bead on the headpin, since the bead hole was larger than the end of the headpin) to attach the beads to the necklace. In addition to the paper beads I used a package of assorted silver beads (by Bead Gallery, green card) that I picked up at Michael’s and strung them all together on Acculon beading wire.

Have you used steel beading wire before? I don’t use it often but it is really wonderful and easy to work with. To attach the chain I used small crimp beads to secure the beading wire. They are dead simple to use- here’s a great tutorial. But I don’t use those special crimp pliers and find that my normal chain nose jewelry pliers work fine. To finish I added a clasp in the back.

Here’s the final product- a fun and cheap (under $10) way to remember London.


  1. Grace says:

    Wow! This is amazing, what a creative and fun idea!
    I never expected those beads were made from maps, that’s a really original way of making beads!
    Thanks for the tutorial, I can’t wait to try it out!

    xx Grace

  2. Natasha says:

    Love this!! I’ve been dyeing up some tribal necklaces, and was hoping to make one myself, but was having trouble finding the right beads…this is perfect! Thank you!!!

  3. Alicia says:

    Thanks Grace & Natasha :) These beads were very easy to make- you could use newspaper, magazine pages, wrapping paper or pretty much anything. I hope you try it!

  4. mariza says:

    i’m from Greece and there is only one word to discribe this: άψογο!
    (and i know that the translation will never be equal..)
    great great great idea!

  5. linda says:

    Did the beads with 1st to 3rd graders at VBS. It was one of the projects the kids remember as fun and still make
    now that they’re in 7th, 8,th and 9th grade. Instead of skewers and Modge Podge I use round toothpicks, a gluestick and clear nail polish. I’ve also discovered thatscrapbooking paper makes great beads as well. And with the smaller sizes of supplies, I can put everything into a small zip lock bag and work on them wherever I am.

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