About Hemp Jewelry
Hemp is a durable fiber made from the cannabis plant. It has 100% legal to wear and create jewelry with, although it is not yet legal to grow in most areas of the USA. Most hemp twine is imported from China and is fairly rough. It is possible to make hemp yarn that is soft, much like linen, but that quality is rare. Still, no matter how rough, any hemp will soften with washing. If you want your hemp jewelry piece to stay stiff like when you made it, try not to take a shower with it. On the other hand, some people like a softer, more worn-in look that can be achieved with washing.
When you make hemp jewelry, you are most likely to use macrame techniques of knotting or braiding to make a thicker cord. This guide will teach you the most common knotting techniques that are used to make hemp jewelry.
Materials and Tools
To make hemp jewelry, you first need to select some hemp twine. Although hemp now comes in many colors, the signature “natural tan” color is still the most popular. Most hemp jewelry is made from 1mm or “20 lb” twine. However, thicker twines can be used to good effect, especially for men’s necklaces. Make sure your twine is an even thickness (not too many lumpy bits) and smooth (unless you like the rough texture). You might try waxing your hemp or buying already-waxed hemp, if you like that look.
The easiest way to attach a clasp is with metal cord tips. These go over the ends of cord, leather thong, or in this case, hemp. There are several types. The most popular two types are ones with metal flaps that bend over the cord, and ones with a coil, the bottom of which you crimp around your cord. To use either of these findings you will need jewelry pliers.
When you are making hemp jewelry, it really helps to have a means to hold it in place. One option is to safety pin it to your jeans or another stationary surface. Some people use clips of some kind and a book or board.
To review –
Optional materials and tools
- beading wax to smooth the twine
- beads with large holes and/or charms
- metal clasp and cord tips
- jewelry pliers to attach metal cord tips & clasp
- safety pin to attach end to your jeans, or another way to hold the necklace in place while you create it
The Two Basic Knots
Most hemp jewelry is made up of two basic knots, which are illustrated below. These knots are the reverse of each other.
If you alternate these two knots one after the other, you will get a flat pattern.If you repeat just one of the knots (either one) over and over again, you will get a spiral pattern that looks like a double-helix.
Making a Hemp Necklace
Plan Your DesignGet out your beading board and plan the placement of your beads. You may also want to sketch out what sections will be flat-weave and which will be spiral-weave.
Cut Your HempCut 4 lengths of hemp. Two will form the base (pictured in gray above), and these should be a little longer than the finished piece will be. The other two (pictured in blue and pink above) will be used to make the knots and need to be at least 5 or 6 times longer than the finished piece. The length can vary depending on any beads you may add – if you use a lot of large beads you will need less hemp because you will be making fewer knots.
If you want a loop at one end of the piece (so you can use a button or knot clasp), cut only two pieces–one for the base and one for the knots. Make them twice as long as you would otherwise, fold them over, and tie a loop.
Knot Your NecklaceStart knotting your hemp the way you planned in your design. When you get to a bead, just slide it on over the two base threads, and then tie the next knot snugly below it.
Finishing Your Hemp Jewelry
You have several options for clasps. Experiment and see what works for you!
Button Toggle ClaspThis requires some forethought. When you start your piece, instead of cutting 4 strands, cut 2 strands that are twice as long, and then fold them both in half. Tie an overhand knot to make a loop at the folded-over end. Proceed with your knotting and then when you finish, tie a large bead, button, or knot at the other end. When you stick the bead through the loop, it will catch and hold.
Metal ClaspYou can use a regular clasp if you finish the ends of your hemp piece with metal or wire cord tips. These go over the ends of cord, leather thong, or in this case, hemp. There are two types, one has metal flaps that bend over the cord and the other has a coil, the bottom of which you crimp around your cord. Then use jump rings to add a standard clasp.
There are many great books about making hemp jewelry if you want to learn more!