How to make an Elder bead necklace

The wood from the Elder tree contains a soft pithy core which is easily removed to create hollow beads.

You can find out how to identify Elder, by having a look at the Elderflower Cordialvideo in this section of the website.. This will give some tips on how you spot them.

You will need:

  • a branch of elder. Not green, choose a stem which is light grey/brown with little bumps. 1 to 2 cm in diameter.
  • A pair of secateurs or loppers
  • One tent peg, skewer, palm drill or thin pokey stick
  • A pair of gloves
  • String and a pair of scissors
  • Felt tips to decorate

How to do it:

You will need someone to hold one end of the elder stem whilst you take the loppers or secateurs and cut as many beads (approx.:2 cm in length) as you want from the other end of the stem. Discard any beads that may split as you cut them. Keep all fingers away from the sharp blade.

Wearing a glove on the hand holding the bead, place the bead on its end, on a hard surface. Take your tent peg and push it down through the centre of the bead to remove the pithy centre and repeat this at the other end.

If decorating your beads, you will need to remove the bark which should peel away easily. Leave the beads to dry for a few minutes before decorating with felt tip pens.

Cut some string to the length you want. Thread the first bead. You may find it helpful to use a pokey stick to push the string through the hole. Tie off the first bead loosely at one end and then thread the rest of your beads.

Finally, tie both ends of the string together to create the necklace.

The wood of Elder is poisonous if eaten, so to be safe wash your hands when you’ve finished.