Beautify Your I.D. Badge: Bead a Lanyard

Sep 1, 2010

Jean Campbell is a
contributing editor to Beading Daily
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I was just looking over the lineup for the next season of Beads, Baubles, and Jewels TV, which has a great set of DVDs that covers the gamut of beading and jewelry-making how-to: beadweaving, wireworking, metalworking, and more. It’s filled with helpful instruction, inspirational interviews, and there are even a couple segments that include Yours Truly, Nervous Nellie Campbell.

As I was surfing through the episodes, I noticed that one features Katie Hacker sharing a technique for making lanyards. It got me thinking about the ever-annoying office badge. They’re necessary apparel for teachers, nurses, and rocket scientists, but they can be oh, so unsightly!

Maybe I’m goofy, but I actually notice when someone’s taken the time to put together a fantastic outfit, but then they plop on one of those woven polyester lanyards that say “Go Vikings” or “I ♥ NBC Tuesdays” on them. It totally ruins the look! Oh, I know it’s easier to just buy one of those printed ones. But as a beader, you really have no excuse not to bead your own. So please, do yourself a favor and use your creative powers to make a fantastic lanyard that speaks to your own style.

   
   
Leslie Rogalski has a great idea for a beaded badge holder.

Three ways to attach your badge

It’s easiest to design a lanyard if you think of it as a long necklace rather than a functional object. Granted, you’ve got a big utilitarian badge as the focal piece. But don’t worry about that—just concentrate on making the beaded portion beautiful. As with necklaces, you can go with any design, but the challenge will always be how to connect it to the badge. Here are three ideas for attaching your badge to your necklace:

   
 

Clips

There are a variety of findings you can use for attaching a badge to your lanyard. Most bead shops offer findings that can be attached with beading wire and crimps in a simply strung design. Depending on the position of your badge hole, you could also simply use a big lobster clasp or clip just as you would in making a regular necklace.

   
 

Key ring

Here’s an old-school idea: Why not just connect a key ring to your badge? Then you could put just about any rope necklace you have through it, and you could wear a different lanyard almost every day (depending on how many changes of identity you require).

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Lark’s head knot

There are ways to connect to your badge other than with findings. How about tying a piece of fiber to the badge using a lark’s head knot? I’ve used pleather cording for this simple lanyard. You simply fold the cord or ribbon in half, pass it through the badge hole, then pass the bulk of the cording through the loop created by the fold. String beads on either side and crimp or knot the cord ends together to finish the piece.


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Comments

Joboy wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 6:15 AM

I have been making these Lanyards with small Gemstones, animal themes, lucite tuumpet flowers and crystals to add more Pizzaz to the tired old cloth ones the nurses and hospital workers wear, at a VA Hospital, where I set up a craft table 2x a month.

Bead Me wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 7:23 AM

I've made a couple by request, but have shied away from making and offering them around--the biggest fear I have is breakage. If the badge is used for entry, it's going to get tugged on a LOT. (I have to use mine every time I go to the bathroom or go to another office, for instance). I used heavy beading wire (.24) and hid additional crimps all through it, figuring that if it did break a few beads scattered was way better than a whole string. So far it's held up, but do you have any other suggestions to add strength?  

lcreamer wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 7:53 AM

Many companies offer their employees retractable badge holders with a clip that can be attached to an article of clothing, such as a pocket or belt loop.  I attached the clip on my retractable holder to the round portion of a toggle clasp, and attached that to the lanyard with a split ring for extra strength.

Bead Me wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 9:11 AM

Icreamer,

Yep, that's about what I did. I still worry about that tug. :-) -- I may be a WEE bit obsessive about it, though.

Amy C3 wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 9:16 AM

Even though lanyard are typically long enough to be put on without the need for a clasp in the back, you should think about having a magnetic clasp, especially if you work with the public or are near machinery where your lanyard could get caught. You don't want your lanyard turning into something that could choke you. Having a magnetic clasp in the back will allow your lanyard to come off quickly, without breaking and without strangling you.

Kathleen@152 wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 10:11 AM

I have been making these for a while now for the ladies where I work, and they have become quite popular.  I am even going to have a table at an art/craft fair this season for them.  

I also use multiple crimps for addition strength but I really like the idea of the magnetic clasp as well.

Gramag wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 10:27 AM

I made a lanyard for a friend using a spiral weave and decorative beads for interest.  It turned out really great and she wears it a lot.  I used a metal clip for attaching the badge and it works well.  If it gets tugged on it can easily pull away from the lanyard.  She has used it 2-3 years now and it is still going strong.

lcreamer wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 1:09 PM

I agree that the idea of the magnetic clasp is very interesting.  My only advice would be to ensure that the magnetic clasp is strong enough to withstand the tugging motion.  I unfortunately learned the hard way - I lost a bracelet that I had put a magnetic clasp on the very first time I wore it.

Lou Ma wrote
on Sep 5, 2010 10:13 AM

I have been making lanyards for nurses, teachers, and office workers for several years now and have had only one break.  I make the lanyards 36 to 40 inches long on heavy duty wire with a toggle clasp so they can be worn as double necklaces and the badge has a good place to attach.  I have a steady stream of requests for seasonal and special occassion lanyards from my ladies.  I make a special effort to keep the costs as low as possible for these hard workers so that everyone of them can have lanyards and jewelry on their inadequate salaries.  I have even sold a few to the gentlemen.

amyburl wrote
on Sep 6, 2010 10:31 AM

I have been making lanyards for myself and other teachers for a few years now. Most recently I have been using kumihimo braids to make them. I like the weight and feel on them and you can get wonderful color blending within the cord. I use a button closure - works well.

just Jan wrote
on Sep 8, 2010 12:48 PM

I hvae been making beaded lanyards for a few months, and they are very popular at work.  Mine have no fasteners, just slip over the head, and have a very large split ring at the bottom to attach the badge holder to.  I use a focal piece, and put the decorative beads on either side, then seed beads to go around the neck.  I started out with 0.3 wire, and now work with 0.45 wire.  My lanyards usually do not break unless someone puts something relatively heavy on them (several keys, maybe, in addition to the badge).  I've thought about using monofilament to avoid breakage, but have never used that before and know nothing about it.  But I get tired of restringing lanyards that folks tried to put heavy things on and had them break.  Any suggestions would be great!