Art From Everyday Objects: Paperclips + String

So today I thought it would be a fun challenge to work with paperclips. You can’t get much more mundane than a paperclip! After much thought, I came up with paperclip earrings. If you have paperclips and some pretty cotton string, you can create these beauties. They’d probably look pretty cool as a necklace too.

Here is a diagram to show you where to open the paperclip to create this triangular shape.

You are basically unbending the clip at all three of the curves. Does that make sense?

Once you’ve got the triangular shape, you need to glue the ends together. Use a fast drying epoxy or hot glue. Next you can start winding your cotton thread around the wire. I started out using hot glue, then I tried Liquid Stitch and liked it way more. It’s a permanent, clear drying adhesive that didn’t cause any bumps of dried hot glue along the way.

Fig 1: Winding the string around // Fig 2:  Starting to wrap the string around the earring, secured with Liquid Stitch

Once you’ve wound all the way round and secured with glue, you can then take another length of string and wind around the width of the “earring” creating horizontal stripes or you can create a more messy look by creating a “net” design (see below).

Then just clamp on a pair of earring hooks. I just stole mine from a couple pairs of earrings I didn’t wear anymore. The results are beautiful and surprisingly modern. I love how light they are too. I like big earrings, but I don’t like it when they weigh down my earlobe. I don’t want them to hang to my knees when I’m old!

Let me know if you have any questions or I didn’t explain something well enough. I’d love to hear or see them if you try it for yourself!

131 thoughts on “Art From Everyday Objects: Paperclips + String”

  1. I want to make a charm for my charm swap

    I want to make charms out of your net design …..thanks so much for the idea i will give you credit!! love love love the idea thanks so much karen

  2. Love it, love it, love it! I WILL be making these soon.

    Have you had any luck with embroidery floss? I’m wondering if the separate strands might separate too easily.

  3. Love these! Can’t wait to make some! I’m definitely going to share on my blog on Wednesday afternoon. Thanks! Oh and your napkin art is pretty great too! You’re terribly creative.

  4. OMG ! It totally looks like string wrapped around paperclips! I’m so excited to have my preschoolers make these for mothers day (translation: amateurish trash)

  5. I tried this and LOVED it! I’m going to see how many I can make and what different variations of it I can do! Check out my blog to see how I made mine.

  6. hey sweet evie!
    i’m wanting to make these but have a question.
    after i’ve glued the ends of the paper clip together, do i put the liquid stitch or hot glue onto the paper clip before wrapping the thread? any tips for wrapping? or is it easier to wrap the thread before gluing the ends together?

    thank you thank you!!! love your blog… always 🙂

  7. I am hosting a craft night tomorrow and we are making these, I am so excited! I will be sure to send you some pics of the finished products – shoot me your e-mail address please!

    <3 <3 Jenna in Boulder, CO

  8. wow, these are so brilliant! as are you! i love the yellow pair of earrings 🙂 will definitely try when i get the chance. thanks 🙂

  9. why do people make rude comments about other folks…its fine if you hate yourself but if you don’t like it then don’t browse the it really that hard? its not rocket science…..

  10. these are so cute! i’m 13 and i love them. i made a more younger version and got lots of compliments at school. thank you so much!

  11. I totally made these with leather and I didn’t cover the metal all the way up just wrapped and glued and they are so cute! Thanks for sharing…I have been asked to have a craft class every friday with some homeschool girls do you mind it I share????

  12. Thanks for all of your efforts on this blog. Betty enjoys going through investigations and it’s easy to see why. A number of us notice all regarding the dynamic method you deliver advantageous things on your website and even foster contribution from people on that issue plus our own simple princess is without question becoming educated a lot of things. Enjoy the remaining portion of the new year. You are performing a fantastic job.

  13. I just made two pairs of these-one for me and one for a friend, and they turned out great. This was easy and fun. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Loved it, made my own using the smaller sized paper clips, cause I’m not a big earing kind of gal. I used colored hemp to wrap around, and super glue worked great to attach it, I didn’t even have to tie any knots, which would have been hard to conceal. Thanks for the idea!

  15. Any advice on glueint the paperclip together? I’m having trouble getting it to stick with the hot glue gun, and then it also leaves kind of a bubble of glue. Second question: What thread are you using? Mine kept fraying (i was using embroidery) and then sewing thread seems too thin. Suggestions? Thanks!

  16. I opted out of using hot glue and used a fast drying epoxy – or you could not glue it at all and just wrap the wire around with it string where it overlaps. I also used cotton string, not embroidery thread. Hope that helps!

  17. Great Idea! When I start to wrap my string around to fill in the gap, it keeps slipping. 🙁 Am I supposed to glue the edges of the paper clip once I’ve wrapped the string around it? Before I start to put the 2nd layer of string on?

    1. I use liquid stitch to secure everything. If your string is slipping, apply a dab of liquid stitch to the area and let dry for about 30 seconds. Then you can continue wrapping. It dries clear, so don’t be afraid to use it liberally. 🙂 Hope that helps! You shouldn’t have to glue the paper clip at all.

  18. I think I’m having a little bit of a hard time finding the right kind of string. I’ve just checked a couple of craft stores, maybe I need to hit up a sewing store? Your pictures don’t look like the spooled thread I use with sewing, which I think is polyester. Is cotton thread specially used for certain things, like quilting or cross stitching? Pardon my ignorance!

    1. Hi Andrea, I find it at Michaels in the same aisle as embroidery thread – it’s just a little bit thicker and doesn’t pull apart like embroidery thread. Hope that helps!

  19. I absolutely adore these.
    instead of using hot glue, i used “Aleene’s Super Gel Brush-On Adhesive” from Michael’s and it worked fantastic. the brush makes it easy to apply and it dries fast without any bumps.
    just wanted to say thanks for sharing 🙂 love it!!

  20. Thank you Evie for the great idea! Made a pair now everyone wants them!! 🙂 I used hemp string for mine. After a couple test tries, I found it easier if I started to wrap the string around the clip before I glued the clip together. Made it easier to pull the string through. I also just used super glue for the ends. Works well with the hemp. Thank you again. My Xmas presents or done!! 🙂

  21. These are amazing! What a great idea and WHO doesn’t have a ton of paper clips lying around? I already attempted with embroidery string with no luck. I’ll have to find some cotton thread this weekend! Thanks again for posting! Keep Crafting!!!

  22. I love this! Such a great, creative, easy project! I didn’t have glue…so here’s how I modified:

    I undid the paperclips as instructed, then I just took scotch tape and went around the whole paperclip before I wrapped with string. It makes them a little thicker, but it held the paperclip ends together and helped to keep the thread from slipping! Gorgeous and super easy!

    Thanks so much!

  23. Thank you SO much for posting this idea! I literally just made 1 earring. =) I really like how it turned out! Looks like I’ll be making a bunch more for my girlfriends this Christmas. Oh and thanks for answering some of the above questions. I had the same ones. Wound up returning the embroidery string for some colored hemp…so much better! And I think the liquid stitch works great too. Thank you!

  24. These are awesome! great tutorial…there are tons of comments so I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned but fabric tac is awesome! It bonds instantly and I found it easier to work with than liquid stitch…just my two cents…anyway, thanks again for the great tutorial! going to whip some of these up tonight to throw in as a little extra something for my sisters!

  25. LOVE! These were my lazy day project yesterday, I was not expecting them turn out this well, I’ve been wearing them all day and everyone I’ve seen has commented on them, followed by astonishment that I made them! I used regular paperclips (although it created a bit of an oblong triangle, does anyone know how to prevent this?), plain string and regular white glue applied with a q-tip.

  26. I’m trying to make the earrings and having a hard time getting the ends of the paper clip to stay closed when I glue them! Ive used the epoxy glue which is very difficult to work with and the hot glue does make bumps! I have also tried other types if glue as well but nothing will set on the clip. Where can u get liquid stitch?

    1. Hi Danielle! I would forget trying to glue it then and just try to use the string to wrap the ends together and using liquid stitch to secure – you can get that at any hobby shop, like Michaels. Hope that helps!

  27. I just finished making my first pair and I’m excited to wear them! I used super glue, but I think a different glue would probably be better. I tried to put the glue underneath the thread, but there are some spots where I can see the dried glue because it’s kind of white. I used crochet thread and it worked great. It was $2 at Wal-Mart. I have a lot of extra, but who knows, maybe I’ll get creative and do some other crafts with it. Thanks for the wonderful idea, Evie!

  28. These are so easy! I made them at work (I was working… ahem) and didn’t even use glue. I used stickytape to attach the wool first and then just went from there with a single strand. Thanks!

  29. I just finished making a pair of these and they are super easy. I also made a larger pair using giant paper clips and yarn! Grat tutorial!!!!! Thanks

  30. On a random note, in Buddhism, having large earlobes could mean you are/will become rich. That’s why Buddha statues have large(r than average) earlobes!

    Or maybe that means you’re closer to the Buddhas….eh, great idea though! I love lots of random paperclips laying everywhere around the house!

  31. Made a pair of these and really like them! I got great comments from people when I wore them. They were super easy (took about a half an hour from start to finish), are very light to wear, and look fantastic!

  32. My friend Lindsay made me some of these for Christmas. She just “pinned” you so I was able to check out the tutorial. I LOVE them, and wear them all the time. They honestly look professional, like I could have bought them at Claire’s, or some boutique, or a kiosk at the mall.

    Thanks for sharing such a cool project!


  33. Thanks for this super simple tutorial. I am majorly craft challenged, but even I could do this one! I used the larger paperclips and it worked quite well although it did use almost a whole thing of string. I’m teaching it to my MOPS group tomorrow and I can’t wait! They’re gonna love them!

  34. I just made these today! Didn’t have glue so I overlapped the ends and taped them with scotch tape…it worked out great! Took five minutes and I love the statement they make!

  35. I love the idea! Even though you start with the mundane idea of paperclips you have a much beyond mundane jumping-off point. If you have to enter a craft store to get any other items, using craft wire (or even fine qualities of silver wire) can give you something much more sublime. Add in space dyed silk yarn or silk roving and you’ve got quite a high quality art jewelry piece.

  36. I altered this a little to make cute, retro bottle cap earrings. I used two Coca Cola bottle caps and super glued them onto the unfolded paper clips. I love them!

  37. hey these are real nice and i am sure going to make one…just had a question..when we finish winding up our thread around the width of the earing are we supposed to just knot it up? wont that like be visible?

  38. I just made some in a dark teal with the net design…I’m so excited! Everyone is going to get a different version of these for christmas this year! Thanks so much!!

  39. Do you think I could make this into a necklace?? I am a jewelry making novice, but these look fairly easy and are really cute! Thanks!

  40. Hi Evie, i´ve just gave them a try today – after going to an art supply shop and supplying myself with all stuff necessary for making them – and i absolutely loved them! (i´ve created both versions as you´ve shown us) and its a great idea. Makes you happy making them and as you see the result after, its just amazing, See, how good it is to think of the paperclip as of something special, then this little art piece is born!
    I´ll even give some to a good friend as a b-day present! Thanks for the idea!

    Lucy x

  41. I LOVE these! I used a tiny piece of tape and wrapped it around the ends to keep them together. Then it didn’t leave a lump. And I didn’t have any of the Liquid Stitch, so I just used the super glue with the brush on the end, and it worked perfectly. LOVE them! 🙂

  42. OMG!! you totally saved me! I had a last minute crisis with a gift for my friend and I made these absolutely adorable earrings and she loved them! I owe you! <3

  43. These are gorgeous! Such a great idea.
    I made these for my mother-in-law for Christmas, and used the ‘messy, netted’ style, which I’ve found to be especially effective if you thread on some teeny glass beads every so often. Coupled with a pillow box and you’re good to go!

  44. I made 13 pairs of these for my friends for their Christmas presents… I used Liquid Stitch and I used 3 different colors of string on each pair of earrings in the net pattern. They came out great, but the only thing that I found was that if you are doing the net pattern, occasionally some of the string will come loose and you need to glue it back on again. Overall, I absolutely loved these and all of my friends wanted to know where I had gotten the idea!

  45. I made these with my 4th grade students for mother’s day gift. It’s amazing. Some of them used 2 colors and it’s great.
    But, with my 26 students… it’s a little bit intense to do at the same time. In group of 6, I think it’ll be easier.

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