Creating an Adjustable Length Necklace



Example of traditional sliding knot

Example of traditional sliding knot

The image on the right illustrates a traditional sliding knot clasp. When using a sliding knot,  I like to resolve the ends of the cord with beads.

The sliding knot clasp is one of the most efficient and economical methods for resolving the ends of the cord on which a pendant is hung. The sliding knot eliminates the need to use a 2-part clasp.

Sliding knot clasp with watercolor paper beads

Sliding knot clasp with watercolor paper beads

On this Watercolor Paper Necklace, the sliding knots have been replaced with watercolor paper beads.

Construct the watercolor paper beads using the same process used to construct Watercolor Paper Pendants; the beads are attached to the ends of the cord in the areas where the knots would normally be tied.

These handmade paper beads incorporate channels just wide enough to permit the  hanging cord to pass through. Replacing actual knots with paper beads allows complementary design elements to be designed into the necklace that effectively unite the pendant and hanging cord into a visually unified work of art. Complete control over the design process is achieved. The sliding beads (I sometimes refer to them as unit forms) can be shaped and painted to complement the pendant. In addition to providing a means for adjusting the pendant’s hanging length, they function as beautiful decorative elements.


The key to accomplishing this adjustability is in the design of the two sliding unit forms that lock the cord’s ends in place. Each unit form locks one end of the cord in place while permitting the opposite end to pass through and slide freely. The length that passes completely through a form also passes through the opposite form and is locked in place with a wooden bead glued to the cord’s end. It is this combination of the cord passing completely through a unit form (a watercolor paper bead) and locking into the opposite unit form that results in a mechanism that is adjustable.

Round punches

Round paper punches speed up the construction process

An efficient method for creating small watercolor paper beads that can be used in place of sliding knots is to use paper punches. Paper punches  are available in a variety shapes, and can significantly speed up the construction process by eliminating the need to cut out the individual paper shapes that are glued together to create the small, sliding forms. The image shows the round punches that I used to create the round sliding forms on two of the pendants illustrated in this post.

Sliding knot clasp with heart shapes

Sliding knot clasp with heart shapes and flat cord

For the heart shapes, I cut the individual paper layers out by hand. Preferring the look of “stylized” hearts, I decided not to use available paper punches. Commercially available  punches would result in more generic heart shapes.

These beautiful, simple hearts, locked in place by the wooden beads glued to the ends of the cord, form an adjustable mechanism that works very well with flat, suede cord. The cord’s flatness is ideal for passing through the channel in these small shapes.  Round cord can also be used.

The cord's length can be adjusted

The cord’s length can be adjusted to permit the pendant to fall relatively high

When the cord’s length is adjusted to permit the pendant to fall relatively high, this moves the beads from the back to the front and results in wonderful design interaction between the pendant and watercolor paper beads.

Soon I will be releasing a detailed video demonstrating the construction of this type of adjustable mechanism.


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More videos you might like:

Watercolor Paper Bracelet – Part 1
Watercolor Paper Bracelet – Part 2
Bracelet with Watercolor Paper & Wire
Making Watercolor Paper Earrings
The Basic Earwire
Constructing Basic Eye Pin

The jewelry objects that you see created in the videos and websites are original designs by Ross Barbera. These designs may be copied for your personal use only, and may not be offered for sale or exhibition without written permission from Ross Barbera.

©2013 Ross Barbera Realisticart, Inc.

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10 Responses to Creating an Adjustable Length Necklace

  1. Sharon Allen says:

    Love the hair clip. You are so creative. You help everyone out so much and I know it’s appreciated.

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Thank you, Sharon – appreciate your feedback very much! -Ross

  2. Love the beautiful necklace.

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Hi – So glad you like this necklace! Thanks very much for your feedback – I appreciate it!
      -Ross Barbera

  3. CHANTAL says:

    thx so much for the idea ,and for the other version of the channel much easyer I could’nt
    get the wax wire;

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Hi Chantal,
      That is great that you were able to use the alternative channel idea! I am working on more options -trying to make it easier!
      Thanks very much for your feedback!
      -Ross Barbera

  4. martha says:

    hi ross there u go again, its wonderfull

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Hi Martha,
      Thanks so much for your comment – I really appreciate it! Glad you like the idea!
      -Ross Barbera

  5. Diane says:

    Ross, I absolutely love this idea. I have just started playing around with a macrame sliding knot, which works wonderfully, but really doesn’t go very well with my designs. But this I can just see being so wonderful in so many different types of designs, not just the watercolor jewelry. I sometimes like to do a fairly simple wrap of stones and include a tag with the “mystical” properties of the stones, but even though they sold well, I stopped making them because I really didn’t like the methods I was using for hanging and closure – plus, I wanted them to be much more adjustable than what I was able to achieve. The macrame sliding knot and the regular sliding knot just didn’t work well with my designs. Can’t wait to see the video! Thanks so much for all you do for us.

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Hi Diane,

      Thanks for your thoughtful feedback. Similar to you, I liked the sliding knot but it did not really add to the overall design. I enjoy incorporating shape and color ideas as part of the closure; these can either be shown or tucked away, depending on the wearers’ preferences.

      Best regards,
      -Ross Barbera

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