Making a pretty chain for Mom's eyeglasses can be a simple, personal and practical Mother's Day gift. Depending on your skill level, you could make anything from a basic beaded lanyard to something more elaborate and embellished.
Traditional chains connect to both arms of the glasses, while newer styles offer a center loop on which you hang the glasses by one of their temple pieces.
"Eyeglass chains are a great way to accentuate your personality while also providing a utilitarian use," keeping glasses safe and handy, says Michelle Sacia, a craft specialist with Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.
"Just like jewelry, eyeglass chains can be created to match your everyday style while showcasing your glasses," she says.
Lori Bergmann, who creates glass beads and custom jewelry at her studio in Maple Valley, Wash., says supplies for making eyeglass chains are readily available online and at craft stores. And depending on the style you choose, it can take only minutes to put together.
"If you can hold pliers in your hand and make a loop, you can do it," Bergmann says.
To get started, first decide on a style of chain. Look for tutorials at websites such as Pinterest.com and YouTube.com.
Once you've chosen a project, gather the necessary jewelry-making tools and supplies.
For many people, the beads are what draw them to an eyeglass chain project, and it's the beads that will make your gift one-of-a-kind. A few quality glass beads can add to the chain's beauty, Bergmann says, but stick with mostly lightweight beads so you don't end up with a heavy piece of jewelry. Choose a variety of shapes, colors and patterns.
"There are all sorts of beads that are pretty and artsy, where it's not just the Plain Jane style of lanyard," she says.
For a bold look, Sacia says, mix different types of colorful beads and colored wire and rings. If you're going for elegance, use a metal chain with occasional pearls or crystal beads throughout. For an earthy mom, try a brushed metal chain or leather with natural-looking wood beads.
Depending on the style of chain, your list of tools and supplies could include jewelry wire, double jump rings similar to key rings, crimp beads to secure the end of wire, crimp covers to disguise end knots, side cutters to trim wire, and jewelry and crimping pliers. If you're creating a traditional chain, you'll need eyeglass connectors, which are the cording that slips onto the sides of glasses.
Making a basic chain takes only a few steps. Many projects will use jewelry wire cut to 34 inches or longer depending on your preference.
From there, add one eyeglass connector on a double jump ring, attach that to the jewelry wire, and place the crimp bead and crimp cover. Then string the beads in your desired pattern. Add the second eyeglass connector to a double jump ring and place it on the other end of the beaded wire. Finish that end by attaching another crimp bead and crimp cover.
Voila, you've got a hand-crafted piece of jewelry.
If you're a beginner and unsure about technique, you can buy pre-made jewelry to serve as the beaded chain, then remove the clasps and attach eyeglass connectors. You'll still be creating a handmade item, and you'll gain some jewelry-making experience for future projects.
Examples of tutorials include the step-by-step instruction from Auntie's Beads at http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=U6VPTelr7H4&feature=fvwrel
Or for more advanced crafters, instructions from Jo-Ann's Stores at http://www.joann.com/fancy-pearl-eyeglass-strand/prod320570/
Lori Bergmann Designs: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LoriBergmann