String Beads


We’ve mentioned here and here how much our kids like to make patterns. And I like it when my kids are busy, so I put together this String Beads kit with hope that my boys will stay busy using these beads to make patterns, sort colors and shapes and practice their fine motor skills.




I love the look of wood toys, so I wanted to use wooden beads. Rather than painting the beads, I decided to dye them. The dying process was quick and simple—although slightly messy.

You will need
:: Unfinished wood beads in various shapes and sizes (most any craft store sells them)
:: Rit dye of various colors (I used fuchsia, teal and royal blue)
:: Spray polyurethane (optional)
:: Bowl for each color
:: Plastic spoon for each color
:: Old towel that will get dye on it
:: Hot water
:: Plastic sorting container
:: Leather cording, shoelaces or similar string
:: Printable template for labeling your box

1 :: Set up bowls you’ll be putting the dye in. Next to each bowl set out the beads you plan to dye in that color. (I evenly divided each bead type among the various colors.)


2 :: Make the dye according to the directions on the package. (I used only 1/3 of the dye powder in each package and adjusted the water accordingly.) Add your beads to the bowls.       Stir the beads immediately to coat with color. Let soak, if necessary. (Each set of beads was in the dye solution for under one minute, so be prepared to move quickly.)


3 :: Remove beads from the dye bath. Place wet beads on the towel to soak up extra dye mixture that runs off the bead. Let dry. If you choose, spray beads with polyurethane according to manufacturer’s directions. Let dry again.


4 :: My favorite part—package and gift.

A couple notes: (1) Wood beads soak up color fast! The first set of beads I dyed got too dark too fast. I tried running water over the beads to dilute the color—didn’t work. I found the teal dye to work especially quickly. (2) After I had so much fun dying the beads, I decided to dye more. I saved my dye overnight by putting a lid on the containers (and moving them where no little helping hands could reach). The dye seemed to work just as well the second day. (3) Just to state the obvious: these beads are NOT for teething, and children should be supervised when playing with string and small objects.

Post by Aimee and Bettijo :

  • Frederica

    I wonder how using (unsweetened) Kool Aid crystals would work. I have seen instructions for using those to dye wool yarns brilliantly. They’re not usually used for cellulose yarns as cotton, for example, does not take up these dyes very well. So I don’t know how well they would work on wooden beads. Worth a try though: food safe dyes and fruity smelling too :-).