How to Make Hemp Jewelry With Shells

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While many forms and patterns of macrame crafting have waned in popularity over the years, woven hemp necklaces remain a popular fashion accessory. While hemp necklaces can be made with just about any style of beads or pendants, necklaces including sea shells are some of the most iconic when combined with hemp, creating the classic “surfer necklace.” Preparing your own hemp and sea shell necklace requires not only knowledge of proper weaving techniques, but preparation of shells for stringing.

Things You'll Need

  • Sea shells
  • Oscillating power tool with engraving attachment
  • Hemp cord
  • Scissors
  • Metal jewelry clasps
  • Prepare the shells for stringing. Make small holes using the engraving attachment on the power oscillating tool. If using cowrie shells, you can also string them by tying knots on the end of short loops and stuffing the knots into the insides of the shells, stringing the shells by the loops.

  • Determine the length and design you want for your necklace and make a guide string. Cut a spare piece of hemp and wrap it around your neck, trimming it to the length needed for the necklace to hang where you want it to. Lay the string on the ground in a circle and organize your shells over it, laying them at the points on the string where you want them to sit in the hemp weave. Mark these spots with marker on the hemp.

  • Prepare the weave for the necklace. Cut four lengths of hemp; make two of them twice as long as you want the necklace to be, and make the other two five times the length of the necklace. Line up the four pieces and tie a single knot in the end to secure them together. Leave about 1 1/2 inches of excess string on the “tail” side of the knot.

  • Weave the necklace. Hold the bunch of strings with the knot away from you, as if you were preparing to braid the strands. Pull the two long strands so that they're on the outside with the short strands on the inside. Cross the strand on the right side over the short strands, then under the long strand on the other side. Take hold of that strand and cross it under the center strands to the right side. Tie a knot by weaving that thread through the loop formed by the strand on the far right and pulling it tight. Repeat to start weaving a spiral helix shape. (For a diagram of this process, see Resources).

  • Work the shells into the weave. Check the weave you're making against the marked-off guide string you made in Step 2. When you reach the point where you want a shell, thread it onto one of the center strands (if it's meant to sit like a bead) or on the outside string (if you want it to hang like a pendant).

  • Continue weaving and adding shells until the woven necklace you've made is as long as the guide string. Tie a knot to secure the end. Tie a necklace clasp and a jump ring, respectively, to one of the tail ends on either side of the necklace. Trim excess strings.

  • Continue weaving and adding shells until the woven necklace you've made is as long as the guide string. Tie a knot to secure the end. Tie a necklace clasp and a jump ring, respectively, to one of the tail ends on either side of the necklace. Trim excess strings.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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