Design on a Dime :: DIY Sparticus & Reflecting Pool Necklaces

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Welcome to the first Design on a Dime post by Erin Strother! Erin has graciously accepted our challenge to create at least one jewelry project each month while keeping the costs down. Get ready to laugh yourself silly and stretch your design muscles with Erin the second to last Wednesday of every month!

I love it when a plan comes together.

When I was given the assignment of doing a Design on a Dime project, I didn’t have to think twice, given that I am the self-proclaimed “Queen of Cheap.” I’ve been known to make necklaces out of stuff like smashed, rusty bottlecaps, discarded O-rings from elderly car restoration projects, and even used surgical screws. (Don’t judge me, I washed them first.) I once tried to make a necklace out of leftover mashed potatoes, but after multiple failed efforts, realized that might be taking things too far. But trust me, I know a few tricks when it comes to designing jewelry that looks high-end without spending all your hard-earned moolah.

My first rule of cheapness: ALWAYS check the website for coupons. So I went to, and sure enough, there was a sweet one for 25% off your ENTIRE purchase—even sale stuff. So I printed that bad-boy out, and then checked to see which beads were on sale that week. The stars must have been aligned, because ALL of the Bead Gallery beads were 50% off! Yeah, baby.

So, in theory, I could have just run down and loaded up a cart with 47,000 beads at half off, plus an extra 25% off of that and still kept my budget pretty low. But I figured that was cheating, and I needed to come up with a design that was still easy on the wallet even if NOTHING was on sale.

So, armed with my sharply-honed cheapness skills, I headed to Michaels to see what inspired me. I was drawn immediately to the bead mixes with multiple different beads in complimentary colors together on one strand. So basically, you look like a fashion genius who bought six different strands of completely different beads which all go together perfectly. A lotta bang for the buck there. I loved the green, blue and antique gold mix, and I could have just stopped right there and made a pretty cool necklace with just those beads, but I thought I’d take it one step farther and add one strand of something else to pump it up a little more. I found some metallic green iris faceted rounds that looked great with the other beads, and decided all I needed to finish it off was some matching green ribbon.

Click on this image to print downloadable instructions for Erin's Reflecting Pool Necklace

Click on this image to print downloadable instructions for Erin’s Reflecting Pool Necklace

So I was smugly heading for the ribbon isle, thinking I was pretty much finished in record time, when, “WHAT’S THAT!?” Hanging on the bottom rung of the metal bead section, were the COOLEST metallic link beads. They had random sections of copper, gunmetal, gold and silver, all in one link, plus, the core was made of stretchy cord, so you could sort of smoosh them around and change their shape a bit.

I had to have them. I knew I could do something super-cool with them. Maybe connect them with leather. Yeah, and some gold wire and mixed metal jump rings. All my wheels were spinning furiously, when I remembered, “WAIT. What about these green and blue beads already in my hand?”

Crap. What to do?

This is what the argument with myself sounded like in my head:

Me: “Sparkly green and blue metallic beads. Look how awesome those green ones with the tiny dotty texture are. Stick to the plan, man.”

Me: “But the metal linky things are so funky, though. I could do something geometric and kinda tribal with those. I must have them!”

Me: “No! Everyone will really like the green beads. SPARKLY.”

Me: “I want the metal linky things. I’m having them.”

Me: “NO! I’m having the blue and green beads.”

Me: “You suck. I want a divorce.”

Me: “NO! WAIT… FINE. I will just make two completely different necklaces.”

Me: “Wha?? WAIT… That. Could. Work.

So I found some ribbon for the green one, and some leather for the metal one, and headed home with a plan for both.

The green, gold and blue beads got connected into two strands of wire wrapped links with spiral-y dangles, finished with a sage green, fabric ribbon. My total cost (after massive savings) for two strands of beads plus a roll of ribbon: $7.89. HA! Add another dollar (ish) for wire and jump rings, plus the cost of a clasp (the one I used was about $0.50) and I still spent less than $10.00.

If you were too lazy to check the website for coupons and absolutely nothing was on sale, your total cost would STILL be under $20.00, everything included.

For the metal link necklace, I bought a piece of 3.5” x 9.5” deertan leather trim (so I could cut wider strips rather than using thin cord) and one strand of the funky metal link beads. With the sale and coupon, these two items rang up at $5.99. Add about $2.00 for some gold craft wire, two sizes of jump rings (I used 10mm gold and 6mm gunmetal, but you could use any combination of metals for these, or all the same metal if you prefer) and a clasp, and my grand total was only $8.00.

Click this image for instructions for how to make Erin's Sparticus Necklace!

Click this image for instructions for how to make Erin’s Sparticus Necklace!

Even if your cheapness gene happened to be switched to the “off” position, and you foolishly paid full price with no coupons whatsoever, your total would be approximately $12.00. SWEET!

So, there you go. You’re welcome. And I’m expecting many expensive gifts of gratitude from all of you, since you have so much money left in your wallets.


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