[ Home ]   [ Bobbins ]   [ Pillow Parts ]   [ Lacemaking Furniture ]   [ Lacemaking Accessories ]  
[ Sewing & Needlework ]   [ How to Order ]   [ Payment & Warrenty ]   [ Lace & Bobbin FAQ-tory]  
[ Supplier Links]  [ Bobbinmakers]   [ Museums, Org's, & Guilds ]   [ Upcoming Events ]  
[ Other Names of Lace]   [ Wood Definitions]   [ About me.]  
[Mail: Kenn@Bobbinmaker.com ]

Making bobbins from pony beads..

Dianna mentions bead bobbins. These are a very practical solution to getting started with very little investment. I've used them, and include them in the beginners kits I put together for workshops.

It's been quite awhile since I sent instructions for these to the list. I thought someone had asked about adding them to the FAQ, but I just looked there and didn't find it, so I'm sending it again, since there are many new lacemakers on the list since it last appeared.

You'll need: wooden dowel 1/8 inch diameter, or the appropriate diameter to fit through your beads.

Beads: most often I use plastic pony beads--they're incredibly cheap and readily available. Pony beads are similar in shape to seed beads, being wider than they are tall, and measure about 1/4 inch in diameter and about 3/16 inches high, and have a large hole. Usually craft shops also have plastic beads with holes the same size as the pony beads in various shapes like butterflies, stars, hearts, etc. They're a bit more expensive, but a few mixed in with the regular round beads help prevent rolling. I've also used wooden beads.

Glue--I have used hot glue, thick white glue, Elmer's when really pushed, but it takes a long time to dry, and doesn't hold as well.

To make a bobbin:

1. Cut the dowel into suitable lengths. I like 4 1/4 inches. You don't need a saw for this. Because the dowel is so thin, you can cut it with an Xacto or craft knife. Place the dowel on a pad of newspaper, or other surface you don't mind cutting, and, with firm pressure, roll the knife around the wood. A sharp knife will usually cut through on one rotation.

2. Glue one bead at one end of the dowel.

3. Glue about 11 pony beads to the other end of the dowel. This should leave you with something looking like this:

  |  |
  |  |

Substituting one or more shaped beads among the beads on the shaft of the bobbin discourages rolling, and adds decoration. These beads are available in many colors and finishes. I found the metallic silver/gold ones lost their shine very quickly with handling. The number of beads needed on the bobbin will vary depending upon the length of the original dowel, how much neck you want to leave for winding on the thread, and how many shaped beads you use. The hearts I've used are about twice the height of the regular pony beads.

After the glue has dried, put an additional generous dab of glue at each end of the bobbin so the hole is filled and sealed to the dowel firmly.

By buying the large bags of pony beads, and using one or two shaped beads per bobbin, the cost of these is only about ten to fifteen cents each, even less is you watch for sales.

For a class where I needed continental bobbins and didn't have enough that were not already involved, I made a batch of these with wooden beads, with a small bead as the head, and as the first bead below the neck, and graduated size beads down to the largest at the bottom.

There are lots of variations possible, and these are simple enough to make that children could make their own, and I think they'd love the bright colors.. When I taught it at our guild, everyone had a great time selecting colors, and working out patterns of beads.

Ginni Berringer
Akron, Ohio USA

IMHO Virginia Berringer's pony bead bobbins are great.Virginia even sent me the beads! They are 10 cents each here and not very plentiful.

I needed 200 plus bobbins that would hold a lot of fairly thick thread. I couldn't find dowelling thin enough so I used meat skewers. 100 for 1$. Each skewer made 2 bobbins. I put 5 ordinary beads and one heart bead on the bottom of each and one on the top so I had a nice wide space for the thread.

I sorted the colours in muffin pans and put my DM to work putting the beads on the skewers in nice combinations while I did the gluing. We didn't finish in one session so I stacked the pans on the floor in the spare room. You know what I'm going to say next, don't you???!!! I took something in there that night to put it away and didn't turn the light on. My toe tipped the pans and beads went everywhere!

I think I found them all. We finished the bobbins and I've used them. They are nice to handle and look so bright and colourful on the pillow.

Jacqueline Bowhey in the Top End of Australia

Hi Lacers

A couple of weeks ago someone posted a way to make bobbins from beads and a skewer. Another lady was making them for a large project. What I need to know is how are they holding up. Are they staying together or is the glue holding. I'm going to be teaching some 4-Hers and I don't want to put a lot of money into it.

Valerie Stewart

I have made several dozen of the Pony bead bobbins, and I found that I needed to finish with an acrylic craft 'varnish' to keep the beads from working loose. First I dipped the single bead at the top and placed the bobbin to rest with this bead hanging over the edge (be sure to have a drip paper under them). I then made a series of hooks from copper wire (my husband striped some electrical wire) and hung them from a coat hanger to dry. They have lasted quite nicely with this finish. Oh, sure an occasional 'top bead' pops loose but it is easy to replace.

Lorri Ferguson

Return to previous page
Go to home page.

This page was created by Kenn Van-Dieren
Copyright © 1998/2007 Bobbins by Van-Dieren; all rights reserved.