We’ve always been big fans of Family Fun magazine, but our favorite FF craft ever would have to be the Beadles from the “Family Fun Crafts” book. Who knew pipe cleaners, wooden beads and embroidery floss could make children and adults so darn happy? We’ve entertained literally hundreds of children at a time with this craft project – you shoulda seen us on the fourth grade overnight with a sea of 9-year-olds, both boys and girls, all carefully drawing little faces on their beadle heads and threading embroidery floss hair. It’s a great project for grade schoolers, tweens and even teens.
We’ve always wanted to try this project as a Thanksgiving craft – little pilgrims and American Indians – but somehow, we always end up with mad scientists. Something about that neon green hair, you know?
Here’s what you’ll need:
A black ballpoint pen and fine-tipped color markers
Large, drilled round wooden beads – 1 per Beadle
Tiny, drilled round wooden beads – 4 per Beadle
Pipe cleaners for the body – 2 each
Felt (fabric with adhesive backing makes the project easier and less messy)
Wire cutters, scissors, glue
1. Start by wrapping the embroidery floss around your fingers six or so times, forming a loop.
2. Fold a pipe cleaner in half, and tuck the embroidery floss into the fold so it protrudes evenly from each side. Then shove the two loose ends of the pipe cleaner through the hole in a large wooden bead. Yank it through so the top of the pipe cleaner no longer shows on top and the hair appears to be sprouting from the top of the bead. Snip through the ends of the floss loops. Voila: hair. (If the bead’s hole is too small, reduce the number of strands of “hair” and try again.)
3. Draw a little face on the bead. Sharpie markers tend to bleed into the wood. Use a black ballpoint pen for fine features. Don’t forget to add pink cheeks. Mad scientists have crazy hair so we let it run wild, but if you want a tamer look, a quick slick of glue stick on the bead will help hair lie down neatly.
4. Twist the pipe cleaner to form a sturdy torso.
5. Using the wire nippers, cut another pipe cleaner in half. Wrap one short piece around the doll’s torso twice, just beneath the chin, to form arms. Thread a small bead onto each end for hands.
6. Fold the other pipe cleaner in half. Bend the end of the torso up to form a hook so you can hang the legs from there. Twist the pipe cleaner to secure the legs, then thread a small bead onto each to make feet.
7. Now it’s time to dress your beadle. Here, we’ve used white felt with an adhesive backing and cut small rectangles to make pant legs, and a lab coat with collar. (Caution: the adhesive backing trashes scissors, so don’t use your good sewing scissors.) But beadles also make fabulous witches, wizards, bikers with Mohawks, petal fairies and other little people – and their bendy bodies make them ideal for decorating Halloween displays or clambering up your child’s desk lamp.