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Leather — Going Natural

A few beads on a leather cord — the classic look that transcends time. Whether it is a few wooden beads on a leather cord for a funky ethnic look or a South Sea pearl on a fine natural leather strand for the ultimate in understated elegance — soft supple leather has an almost universal appeal.

Note that some dyed leather will "bleed" when it gets wet, It is prudent to test a small piece first.

Do note however that if you are making jewelry for resale — that some people have strong ethical objections to the use of leather. In that case, feel free to explore many of the leather simulations — there are some very goods ones available. Try hemp, waxed linen, cotton, rubber or synthetic leather instead.

Basics — Basic leather and Stone Donut


  • about 1 yard of leather cord and
  • a large, flat stone donut with a large center hole, or a Chinese “lucky” coin.

Classic, Lark's Head knot

The classic way is to use the Lark's Head knot. Double your line, and thread both cut ends through the hole, back through the loop.

2b A nice alternate way to hang a large-hole item like a stone donut uses a jump ring. Thread your line through the center hole, and slide your stone to the center. Thread both ends through the jump ring and slide it up to the stone. Separate each end, and loop each one around and back through the jump ring and tighten up.

Finish the necklace with an adjustable length knot.

You can make the necklace length adjustable, so that you can adjust it to perfectly match your neckline, and so that you can slip it on over your head and back off again. Tie a True Lovers' knot at the back. By pulling the tails of the knot, you can shorten the line and adjust the length of the necklace.

True Lovers' Knot

The true lovers' knot consists of two overhand knots, each end of the line knotted over the other end.


Bracelet with Lobster claw clasp

Leather bracelet with metal beads

  • 2 lengths of leather, each 1 mm in width and 2 yards long
  • 7 metal beads, approx 7/8 - 1 inch in length, with fairly large holes
  • approximately 5 jump rings
  • 1 leather crimp
  • 1 lobster claw clasp


Start by folding each strip of leather in half, and attaching them, side by side, to a jump ring using a Lark's Head knot. Then tie a double overhand knot around the two center strands. (Illustration shows each strand in a different colour for clarity.)



Add a bead onto the 2 center strands, and follow up with another knot. (Center strands shown in a different color for clarity).

Continue alternating beads and knots. Run the other strands down the outside of the long bead, and knot over the center strands. Continue alternating knots and beads until you have enough for a bracelet, about 7 inches.



End with a double overhand knot, and then collect the ends into a leather crimp. Fold over one side and then the other of the crimp. Add the clasp to the loop at the end of the crimp.

Add a few more jump rings to the other end, to make the bracelet more flexible for length.


All leather bracelet with self-toggle

You will need:

  • 5 metal beads, 7/8 - 1 inch long, with fairly large holes
  • 2 yards of leather, 1mm width, natural colour
Start by folding the line in half, and tying a loop in the center of the cord. Ensure the loop is big enough for the beads to slide through. 1a
Tie an overhand knot, (you know, a regular ordinary knot!) and slide on a bead. Tie another overhand knot and snug it up gently to hold the bead in place. Alternate gaps of leather cord and beads to make a length long enough for a bracelet (7 inches). I make the gaps about a finger-width in length.

Now add a bead at 90 degrees to make the toggle. Separate the two sides of the line and thread each through opposite sides of the bead.


Knot the ends of the line back over the two center lines (see instructions for bracelet above) back down to the bead and trim off the ends for a nice tidy look. 1d
Use your imagination to elaborate! Alternate metal beads with glass, expand the length to make a choker or an anklet. (Just a little longer for an anklet, at least double the length for a choker.)


Copyright 2003 Dwyn Tomlinson, All Rights Reserved. Used with permission by the Beading Times

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