How to Make African Waist Beads

Rated 4.9 Stars by Crafters Like You

Get your waist beads on with this awesome DIY tutorial on traditional African beads.

Time: 30 min
Skill Level: Intermediate

Waist beads have been a token of traditional West African culture for centuries. For many African tribes, beads are not simply objects. They serve as an important symbol of status or identity. In this cool tutorial, we're gonna show you how to make your own waist beads, inspired by the West African culture we love so much!

Things You'll Need

  • White Glass Seed Beads
  • Vintage Brown Irregular Seed Beads
  • Small Brass Bicone Beads
  • 24 Gauge Silver Wire Half Hard (1 ½” inches)
  • .015 Tiger Tail (50 inches)
  • Small Brass Crimp Bead (2 pieces)
  • Small Brass Lobster Clasps (1 piece)
  • 7 mm Brass Jump Rings (2 pieces)
  • Nose Pliers
  • Bent Nose Pliers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Small Crimp Pliers

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Cut String

Cut 50 inches of the tiger tail and tape its end to your working table.

Step 2: Design a Pattern

Lay out the pattern that you'd like your beads to be strung. Be creative!

Step 3: Bead Away!

Bead this pattern all the way through to your desired length

Step 4: Attach crimp and lobster clasp

First start by adding your crimp

Then add your lobster clasp

Step 5: Get your crimp in place

Form a loop by stringing the wire through the same crimp.

This will secure the lobster clasp in its place

Step 6: Crush the Crimp

Use the crimp pliers and crush the crimp bead using the slot closest to the handle

You should have a pressed crimp bead that looks like a book

Step 7: Fold the Crimp

Fold the Crimp bead by putting it inside of the first slot of the crimp pliers to secure it

Step 8: Create a Link

Create a link from the jump rings by opening them with pliers and joining them together.

Step 9: Prepare wire for wire-wrapping

Cut 1 ½ inches of 24 gauge silver wire

Step 10: Fold the Wire

Fold the wire around the tip of the round nose pliers molding it to create a key shape

Step 11: Overlap the Wire

Overlap one end of the wire over the other two times, using your finger

Step 12: Cut the Wire

Cut tip of wire

Step 13: Bead End Pattern

Bead your end pattern

Step 14: Secure the Bead Charm

Follow steps 10, 11, and 12 to secure your bead charm

Step 15: Press Wire In

Press on the end of the wire to keep it from sticking out

Step 16: Attach End Charm

Finally attach your end charm to the last jump ring and secure

Step 17: Enjoy!

Enjoy your new waist beads :)

Tips & Advice


How did your waist beads turn out? Post a photo below in the comments and share!

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