Horse hair can be a great material if you’re looking to add a little extra texture and interest to your jewelry. Not only is it unique, it has a variety of great uses. It’s lightweight, comes in a variety of colors, can easily be dyed, and best of all, it’s relatively inexpensive.
Today we’ll be learning how to make a tassel for horsehair jewelry!
I’ll be adding my tassel to the end of a chain as a unique focal point for a necklace, but this project could easily be done on a smaller scale and thrown on a pair of earrings or even the zipper of a small bag or clutch.
What you’ll want to have on hand:
- Horse hair
- Embroidery Floss, or 20 gauge decorative gold wire if you like a
- Flat nosed Pliers
Step 1. Separate the hair
If you buy horsehair, it will likely come in a large bunch. When pulling hair out of this bunch, it is the easiest to grab from the center of the bundle. Horsehair is relatively coarse so it will grab what is next to it.
Take your time and try to keep the hairs in line as you pull. It’s much easier to straighten a few pieces than an entire clump that has been pulled into a mess. If you’ll be making earrings, you can probably get away with a relatively small clump that you can cut in two. Whereas a necklace will take more hair. It’s all up to your preference at this point.
Step 2. Wrap the center of the hair
Using your embroidery floss, make a few wraps in the center of your hair and tie a bow or knot to secure it. This will give help you keep the individual strands in order when you’re working with the wire. At this point, also use your wire to make a few wraps around one side of the hair. You’ll thank yourself for this later.
Step 3. Start winding
Using about an arms length of wire, start winding it around one side of the tassel. Make sure you get things nice and tight at this point.
Step 4. Thread the wire
When you have about three wraps, begin to thread your wire between the sections as you work, creating a figure 8 with wire that secures both sides together. Work your way upward toward the bend of hair until you are happy with its height.
Once you’re happy with the hight of the band, start working downward, wrapping the entire piece. Pull this taut and try to sandwich these new layers into the already existing ones to create some uniformity. If messy is more your style, go for that too!
Step 6. Finish the piece
Finish by wrapping the opposite side than you began with three tight loops and trim so that the end of the wire is hidden between the hair.
At this point your tassel should be pretty secure, but, just as an extra measure and bit of decoration, I like to make an attachment at the top.
If you’re interested in this step, first remove the embroidery floss at the top. Then, using a small piece of your wire, wrap the top a few times and make sure to pull tight. Secure one end by wrapping it around the other and finish with a loop on top. You can adjust stray or non-uniform hairs by pulling gently at the ends to help align them.
Finally, trim the ends of the hair so that all your ends are one length. This can get messy so make sure to do this over a trash can.
Throw on a chain and you’re good to go! Or, practice making larger ones and work your way to smaller tassels using less horse hair and finer gauge wire. Using dead soft wire would also help you get a little more uniformity in your wrapping.