Do: DIY Basic Mala Beads

Making your own mala necklace is fun and really meditative once you get the hang of it. If you took my workshop and need a refresher, here it is, all written out in an easy to follow (I hope!) format.

What is a mala?

Traditionally, it was a counting device for meditation, similar to a rosary. These days, it's a yoga or fashion accessory for anyone who wants to add a touch of chic to their look; perfect for the office or a weekend brunch.

 

A mala will normally consist of 108 beads for meditation. If you're making them as an accessory, you can make it to any length by adjusting the number of beads. 

You only need simple tools and supplies. To finish this necklace, it will take a couple of hours. Once you get the hang of tying the knots, it is super therapeutic as the repetition factor will help keep your mind calm. Making a mala is meditative in itself.

What you'll need:

• 108 round (8mm gemstone or wood beads)

• 1 guru bead (a larger bead of any shape)

• 1 skein of DMC embroidery floss

• 1 tassel

• craft tweezers

• white glue

• scissor

• pliers

 

Instructions:

Take the entire skein of DMC embroidery floss, divide it into 2 equal lengths. Double up the 2 lengths so you have double the width of thread. Your threads will be very long. Don't worry! You really do need this much.

This next step will turn the ends of your threads into stiff pointy ends so you can insert the beads easily. Take one side of your scissor and shave off some fibers on both ends of the threads, whittling them down a bit against the table. Protect your table with a piece of cardboard or thick paper. Apply white glue to ends to stiffen. Let dry. 

Lay out both plies of threads parallel to each other. Insert both ends and both plies into the guru bead creating a loop. Use your pliers to open the ring attached to the top of the tassel, insert into loop, close ring again with pliers. Now the tassel is attached.

Pick up both sides of the threads above the guru bead and tie a knot right above the guru bead making sure it's snug up against it.

From now on, you'll be working on one side at a time building up your necklace evenly by tying a knot between each of the 108 beads.

Tying Knots

The object is to get the knot as close to each bead as possible.

Insert one 8mm bead onto your thread. Form a loose knot with the long tail of thread. Do not tighten. Your loose knot should look like a pretzel:

 

 

Insert your right thumb into the loop of the knot. With your other hand, use your thumb and index finger to pinch the knot and slowly push the knot towards the bead while keeping your right thumb inside the loop preventing the knot from closing.

You will need to pay attention to & adjust the tension you’re applying to the loop with your right thumb to get the knot right up against the bead.

Remove your right thumb, insert one arm of the tweezer into the loop - you are basically replacing what your right thumb was doing with one arm of the tweezer.

Continue to push the knot closer to bead until you can't anymore. Slowly remove the tweezer and push the knot snug against the bead with your thumb and index finger. Use the tweezers to help tighten the knot further by pinching the long tail threads with them and pushing down.

As you build your mala, it will get heavier. While tying the knots, lift your project off the table & let gravity help get the knot as close to the bead as possible!

Tip: Do not tighten the knot until you're completely satisfied. It is very difficult to undo a knot that has been tightened. If your knot isn’t close enough to the bead, loosen it, and start again.

Build up both sides evenly in this manner.

Repeat until you reach the very last bead.

Finishing:

Before adding the last bead, split the threads into 2 plies again. Remember in the beginning, you glued them together at the ends to form a thicker thread. Take one ply from each side and criss-cross them into the last bead like so:

 

Tie a knot in between the beads in the position of each of the 4 loose threads by wrapping it over the existing thread that's stringing the beads together. Dab the knots with white glue or superglue to prevent it from unraveling.

That's it! Your very own mala bead necklace! 

* Feel free to embellish with charms and other kinds of decorative or spacer beads once you've mastered the basics.

 

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