DIY Project: Temple Bell and Twine Garland

Our evergreen and red berry holiday garland is missing the glint of gold. To add to it, I’ve eyed garlands of temple bells, and the kinds of old brass bells worn by cows, sheep and goats …

Cow bell garland from Toast:

Via La Merceria:

Bell Close Up

Cow bell garland from Restoration Hardware:

Cow Bell Garland via Restoration Hardware

Jingle bell garland from Restoration Hardware:

Jingle Bell Garland from Restoration Hardware

But everything I found was too small, too big, too expensive or too cheap-looking … just not right. I made temple bells for our Christmas tree, so why not make garland too? I decided the triangular cone shape would be the easiest, fastest shape to make. Here’s the steps …

1. Make a circle template with heavy paper. I drew a circle around an upside down bowl. You can use whatever will make the circle size you want. Cut the circle in half.


2. Snip a little V-shape into the middle of the half circle. Later when the bell is assembled, this will give you a little hole at the top, which you will need to attach a ring to hang the bell.



3. I used grungepaper for the bells. It’s very flexible for smooth circular bending, as you can see in the photo above. I cut very carefully, as I was under the watchful eye of a supervisor. She really is the boss of the house.


At this moment, my assistant was right behind me, inspecting the garland to make sure everything is okay before we hang it up. He’s doing a good thorough job.


Here are the supplies for the next few steps:


4. Fold the half circle so ends overlap a bit. I put double-sided tape on the ends to keep them more secure during these next steps.


5. Instead of gluing the ends together, which I thought wouldn’t hold well over time, I used brads. No, not Peters, Toms or Georges. Brads. You can find them in scrapbooking supplies. The idea struck me when I saw the detail on these bells from Restoration Hardware:


I poked four holes with a pin along the seams of the bells, and inserted the brads. The brads have tabs that you bend on the inside of the bells, to hold everything secure. The colors don’t matter because the whole thing will be painted gold.

6. Next I spray painted the bells antique gold, including the insides. I sprayed in our sunroom with the windows open — not in the house — because the paint is pretty stinky stuff.



I love the texture!


I wish the brads were a little more smooshed-by-a-hammer looking. But oh well.

7. While the gold paint was drying, I found jute twine in our gardening supplies. The twine was too thin, so I braided three pieces of twine together for a more substantial-looking rope.

8. After the paint dries, it’s time to add the clappers. These bells traditionally have wooden clappers. Maybe in the future I’ll make little wooden clappers. For now, I found some gold color pieces in the jewelry-making departments at Michaels and Joann.


I also gathered chains and jump rings from my jewelry-making supplies for the next steps.

9. Hopefully I can communicate this next part well enough here. I figured a way to, all in one piece, assemble the ring that will attach the bell to the twine with the chain that leads to the clapper. Arrange your pieces like this:


10. Assemble the pieces that go inside the bell together. (Don’t attach the jump ring that goes on top of the bell yet.) Set the assembled pieces inside the bell and nudge the top ring near the hole at the top of the bell. You may need to snip a bigger hole, but be careful, you don’t want the hole to be so big that this entire assembly slips through.


11. Push the “inside ring” up through the hole just a little bit, and loop the “outside ring” through it, like this:


And there you go! Your bell is finished. Whew, that was a lot of work, huh?


Now it’s time to hang the bells. I wound garland around our staircase rail, then wound the braided twine among the garland. Then I hung the bells. This way, you can hang the bells wherever you want them.



Final QC inspection:


I still want to play with the idea a bit more. These look so new. I’d like to add patina like you see on this bell:

Bell With Patina

I have antique gold color embossing powder and metallic inks and paints to play with to make the bells look old. Some other day though! For now, our garland has the golden touch it needed.

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