Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Popsicle Stick Bracelets: DIY Tutorial

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial

This month's Etsy Fort Worth Upcycle THIS! Craft Challenge 'secret ingredient' is popsicle sticks. I have been making popsicles like crazy (and eating them like crazy) so I could use the sticks for this know, so they would be officially 'upcycled'.

I'm really excited about the way these cute little bracelets turned out, and I can't wait to show you how I made them!

• popsicle sticks (1 stick will make 2 bracelets)
• craft knife
• ruler
• power drill with 1/32" drill bit
• fine sandpaper (120-240 grit)
• round needle file (optional)
• container with water
• wide rubber bands
• cylindrical drinking glass (around 3" in diameter)
• paintbrush
• toothpick
•Krylon Crystal Clear gloss finish spray (optional)
• 32" 1mm leather or cord (cut into 2 16 inch pieces)
• acrylic paints
*scrapbook paper (small scraps, at least 3/4" x 2 3/4")
• *Mod Podge

* You can either paint the wood with your own special design, or decoupage using the scrapbook paper and Mod Podge. If you choose the second option, we will still be using the acrylic paint to finish the back of the wooden pieces.


First, if you are using used popsicle sticks, wash them well and make sure they are completely dry.

Use the ruler to find the center of the stick. Mine was at 2.25". Use the craft knife to cut the wood in half. You will have to go over your cut several times. Do yourself a favor and make sure your blade is new and it will be a lot easier :) When you're about halfway through, you can flip it over and continue cutting from the other side, but whatever you do, don't be tempted to snap it when it's almost done, or it will splinter and you'll swear and throw things across the room.

I'm not saying I did that or anything... but I could imagine that somebody might..

Next, use the drill to make holes in the middle of each end, about 1/8 of an inch in. Run the drill as slowly as possible to avoid splitting the wood, which may or may not have happened to me. Twice. Again, a less ladylike and well composed woman than myself might be tempted to shout profanities and begin tossing things about, but I can assure you that I held my composure...especially since there are no living witnesses to tell you otherwise.

(NOTE: this is why I drill the wood before rounding off the end...)
DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, step 1 & 2 (cut and drill)

Use the knife to round off the cut end of the popsicle stick. You may want to use another rounded end and trace it with a pencil for guidance. Don't try to take the whole curve in one swoop; shave off small bits at a time and you'll have better control of the curve. 

Smooth the freshly shaped end with the sandpaper to take care of any bumps or splinters. I sanded the other end as well, so they both matched as closely as possible. Try to take care of the splinters around the drill hole as much as possible too, and if you happen to have a round needle file, this would be an excellently awesome time to use it!
DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, step 3 & 4 (round end and sand)
When you are satisfied with the shape and smoothness of your wooden pieces, it's time to let them soak!  I filled a plastic container about an inch high with warm water and let the wood soak overnight. If you are in a hurry, you can toss them in a pan with water and let them boil for 10-15 minutes, then let them soak for another hour or two in the warm water after you turn off the heat.

We are soaking the wood to make the pieces pliable, so we can give them a nice curve to fit on a wrist better. This step is optional, especially if you want to make your wooden centerpiece shorter...or if you want to make earrings or a pendant.

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, step 5 (soak in water)

After the wood has soaked enough to make it easy to bend slightly with your fingers, use the widest rubber bands you can find to strap them tightly to a (cylindrical object about 2.75 - 3" in diameter).  Use your thumbs to press the ends around the glass and encourage the curve, and leave them to dry for a few hours. Using a hair dryer will speed up this process, but make sure they are completely dry before moving on to the next step.

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, step 6 (curve and dry)

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, curved piece, ready to decorate

Now that your popsicle stick pieces are nicely curved and dry, you can either paint them with the acrylic paints, or decoupage them with Mod Podge and scrapbook paper. I'll show you the latter.

First, paint the back of the wooden pieces with the color of your choice and let it dry. You'll notice from the first photo below that I didn't do it in this order the first time, but it's much easier to paint the back and sides before the paper is in place so you don't have to worry about overpainting. Again...just saving you some headaches.

When the paint is dry, paint some Mod Podge on the top of your bracelet piece, then turn it over and lay it on the back of the piece of scrapbook paper you have chosen. Press the paper to fit the curve of the wood and let it dry before cutting the excess off with the craft knife.

Use the toothpick to gently poke through the paper from the back of the centerpiece, just slightly so you can see where the hole is. Then push the toothpick through the hole from the front of the piece, and twist it and push it all the way through the hole so it tucks the edges of the paper inside the hole nicely. Repeat for the other end.

Paint another one to two coats of Mod Podge over the top and sides (make sure you get the edges of the paper where it meets the wood), letting the piece dry between coats.

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, steps 7, 8, & 9 (glue paper, trim, and poke holes)

OPTIONAL: Spray the front of the finished piece with 2 coats of Krylon Crystal Clear gloss coat, allowing to dry between coats and according to the instructions on the can. I always finish my decoupage pieces this way, to give them a nice glossy shine and seal them well. I do the same for the painted pieces.

When everything has dried completely (and I mean completely - don't even think about touching this thing if it ain't dry or you'll ruin it with fingerprints, and don't come crying to me for sympathy), grab a 16" section of cord and thread it through one of the holes. Tie a knot using both strands together and secure it firmly near the edge of the wood. Repeat for the other end with the other piece of cord or leather.

Cross the ends in the middle, then loop one end around the other side of the cord and tie a knot around it. Pull it as tightly as you can to secure it well but so that it will still slide up and down on the other piece of leather for an adjustable closure.  Repeat on the other side, knotting the other end of the cord around the opposite side of the cord. Trim the excess cord, leaving about 1/4" of the ends sticking out. You can snip these closer if you want to glue the knots, just be careful to glue only the outside of the knot so it will still slide well enough to work; you don't want to glue it in place. (If you glue, use hypocement or superglue).

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, add cord or leather and knot to finish

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, finished bracelet (side view)

That's it! You're all done, wasn't that awesome??  I had so much fun with this project I made three different bracelets, and next I'm going to make a pendant for a necklace. 

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, finished bracelet (green)

DIY upcycled popsicle stick bracelet tutorial, finished bracelets - one handpainted and one with paper

I'd love to see your projects, please feel free to leave links to your own upcycled popsicle stick creations in the comments below, and of course I would be honored if you'd like to link back to this tutorial on your own blog, especially if it has inspired you to post one of your own! However, if you'd like to include a photo, please only use the photos of the finished bracelets, not any of the step-by-step or in-progress shots without asking first. If you have any questions at all, please ask - I don't bite (too hard) :)


  1. PRETTY!!!! As always your posts are very inspiring. Now where can I get popsicle sticks when you don't eat popsicles...

    Can't wait for fall markets, very warm up here in McKinney...


  2. Love it! These turned out great, and your tutorial is so easy to follow.

  3. very cool!!! I have so many popsicle sticks I can not wait to try this!!!

  4. As usual, you make beauty from anything and kindly share so well. :-)

    Here's a yummy fact:
    In the U.S., Kroegers sells Ice Pix Creme Pops in 3 flavors with 24 to a box (it's green) for about $4.50....the best can eat FIVE for a mere 100 calories! :-D Fat free and no sugar added! And yum, yum, yum they are soooo good! (they also sell rocket pops and fruit ice pops for even less calories). :-)

    In case one wants to upcycle instead of buying plain boring craft sticks. ;-)

    Have a fab day!


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