How to make a bead curtain

Updated April 17, 2017

One of the great things about classic 60s movies is their décor-swinging living rooms planted with weird-looking furniture, separated from even-weirder bedrooms not by doors but groovy bead curtains. Unfortunately, while it's possible to buy bead curtains today, they're usually so insubstantial as to be a pale imitation of the originals. Here's how to make your own thick, colorful curtain out of thousands of beads.

Set aside plenty of time. Making your own bead curtain is a repetitive, Zen-like process, which involves stringing individual beads onto individual strings over and over again. Part of the charm of this project is its slow, calming inexorability, but don't take it on if you don't have an hour or two to spare every day.

Measure the area you want to cover. A standard door frame is about 75 cm (30 inches) wide, but you may want to be more ambitious and separate a portion of your living room, which will involve a much wider curtain. This is a good time to figure out how "thick" you'd like your curtain to be-that is, how close the individual strings of beads should be to each other.

Buy some strong fishing line. As tempting as it is to string your beads onto a long piece of thread, this is a recipe for disaster: the accumulated weight will snap the thread and scatter a zillion beads all over your hardwood floor. Instead, go to a hardware or sporting-goods store and buy a big spool of fishing line-if it can hold a 227 kg (500 lb) marlin, it can hold 1.4 kg (3 lb) of colored beads.

Buy some beads. If you live in a big city, your local "garment district" should have one or two shops stocking a full selection of beads; if you don't, you can easily buy beads online. Once you determine your approximate color scheme (say, strings of green beads alternating with strings of yellow beads), you should have a good idea of what kinds of beads to buy, in what colour and how many. You may have to order multiple times, but that's part of the Zen aspect of this project.

Cut a portion of fishing line to the proper length and tie a knot at the bottom -- you're ready to start stringing beads. Just plunk the beads one after another down the other end of the line (you may have to stand up near the end). Once you've reached the desired height, tie off the other end, but leave a few inches of line on top of that so you can tie the string of beads over the door frame.

Drive some small nails into the area above the door frame. This is where you'll tie those extra centimetres of fishing line at the end of your strings of beads. For a thick curtain, you'll have to put in a nail every1.2 cm (1/2 inch) or so, 2.5 cm (1 inch) or more if you'd like your curtain to be more transparent. Once you're done tying the strings, you may want to cover up the nails and knots over the frame with a thin plank of wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Nails
  • Fishing line
  • Hammer
  • Beads
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About the Author

Sonya has written two books, "Beadalicious" and "Just for the Frill of It." She contributes to arts and crafts books and magazines, and has appeared on a variety of television shows.