By Contributing Editor
Making hemp jewelry is a fun and creative way to make gifts or accessories for yourself while doing something good for the environment. Fast-growing and sustainable, hemp is a terrific choice for home jewelry making. Almost anyone can do it, from kids to teenagers to adults. With these hemp jewelry instructions, some basic knots and a few beads, you’ll be on your way to learning how to make hemp jewelry in no time!
For a bracelet: twenty minutes
For a necklace: up to one hour.
Hemp Jewelry Supplies:
A variety of beads. These can be glass, ceramic, wooden, or plastic, and they need to have a fairly large hole in the middle to allow the hemp to pass through. Your local craft store probably has beads made especially for hemp.
A large safety pin
First, decide what sort of item you’d like to try your hand at first. To get the hang of tying the hemp knots, I recommend starting with just a few inches of twine before moving on to something that’s “for keeps.” Tie a few practice knots, following the directions on this page, before planning out your first piece of jewelry. Choose beads you like, and set them aside.
Cut your hemp. You need two pieces: one which is a little more than twice the length of the finished piece, and one which is about four times the length of the finished piece. Use your own body for approximating the measurements: wrap a piece of hemp twice around your wrist for a bracelet, twice around your neck for a necklace, etc. If you’d like to be able to slip your hemp on without undoing any sort of clasp, give yourself an extra couple inches so you can pull it over your head or hand.
Fold the longer and shorter pieces of hemp that you’ve cut in half, and match up their end points with a little loop.
Just under the loop, make a little knot. The knot isn’t anything fancy, just your basic half-hitch. Keep the loop on the small side, so it can be used to close your finished piece when you’re wearing it. Now you’re ready to make your first official hemp jewelry knot. Attach a large safety pin to the loop, and pin it to something stationary. This will make it easier to tie neat, tight knots.
Hold your hemp as shown, with the two shorter strands together in the middle and the two longer pieces on the outside.
Take the left-side long strand and loop it behind the shorter pieces in a big letter “c” shape. Take the right-side long piece and, starting from behind the long piece you just moved, bring it up and across the two short strands of hemp, and poke it through the letter “c” you just made.
You’ve made something like a half-hitch knot now, with the two shorter strands in the middle. Your hemp should look just like the picture; if it doesn’t, try the knot over. It’s really easy once you get the hang of it, but it might take a try or two to get it right the first time.
Once you’ve got it straightened out, gently tighten the knot by pulling the long pieces taut and providing tension on the short pieces as well. Take the time to make a nice, tight, even-looking knot. It should look just like the picture.
Now’s the time to decide what sort of hemp jewelry you’d like: the flat type as is shown in the first photo, or the spiraled kind. If you want the flat kind, then your next step is making a knot exactly like the first one, only backwards. Start by making a letter “c” with the left-side long strand, and proceed from there.
If, on the other hand, you want a spiraled piece of hemp jewelry, as shown at right, then keep making knots starting on the same side, the whole way down. Right-side letter “c” following right-side letter “c”, all the way down.
After you’ve made a few knots, you’ll probably start to think about wanting to add one of those beads you set aside back at the beginning. Adding a bead is really pretty easy. Before starting a new knot, slide the bed up onto the short strands of hemp. Tie your knot as usual, pulling the strands tight below the bead. Easy as pie. For evenly spaced beads, count the number of knots in between each one. For the bracelet shown here, I spaced my beads with six knots in between.
Continue to tie knots and add beads until your hemp jewelry is either the length you desire, or you begin to run out of length. Finish the piece with a simple half-hitch knot, just the way you began. Trim the ends.
Fasten your hemp by sliding the end knot through the loop you made at the beginning, and you’re done!
Hemp jewelry making is a completely portable craft. Try bringing a ball of hemp and some beads next time you’re sitting in a waiting room, a car pool line, or traffic. Replace anxiety and boredom with the simple, creative art of tying hemp, and make something beautiful in the process.
Try variations on the project shown above. A key chain can be made in just a few minutes from two shorter pieces of hemp and a carefully chosen bead. Instead of starting from a plain loop, tie your beginning hemp strands to a split ring for easy key removal, or tie your hemp directly to your key. Use thicker hemp, and more middle strands, to make a unique belt. I’ve even heard of knitting with hemp twine to make a hammock, but that’s a project too advanced even for me!