Making a Mala

A Mala is a set of Buddhist prayer beads used to help focus the mind during meditation and count mantras. Beading can be a meditative practice for many, and this is a great way to imbue your project with personal meaning. You can use your Mala as a set of prayer beads or simply as a beautiful adornment. The natural wood beads are a perfect fit for making a Mala necklace. The wood is wonderfully smooth and feels great to the touch.

Mala necklace on model

There are several different Mala designs to choose from when deciding how to lay out your beads. Each has the traditional 108 beads with some accent or marker beads and a tassel at the center. Choose marker beads that are slightly larger than the 108 counting beads so they can be easily felt when you touch your Mala.

Finished mala necklace

I found that 8-10mm beads work best when making this Mala necklace. This size bead is large enough to handle when counting, without making the Mala too long or bulky. We have made our own tassel for the Mala using the C-Lon micro cord and Tex 400 cord.

Materials List:
RN-0028: Graywood Round 8mm - 3 strands (108 beads needed)
CLMC-CB: C-LON Micro Cord Caribbean Blue
CLC.400-PK: C-LON Tex 400 Bead Cord Peacock
4 marker beads
520-124: Hypo Cement Jewelers Glue
193-200: Big Eye Needle 1pc (2.25 in)
8-4242: 8/0 Duracoat S/L Dyed Aqua Miyuki Seed Bead - 2 beads (or 2-3mm beads to help taper the necklace at the center)

Mala necklace supplies

Attach the big eye needle to the C-Lon Tex 400 cord spool. These needles are awesome! If you have never used this type of needle you simply peel the needle off of the paper card and separate the needle at the center to open up the eye. The entire middle of the needle is the eye, hence being called a “big eye” needle. They allow you to thread just about any cord through the eye. You can now use a needle for thicker cords that cannot be threaded onto traditional needles, this makes stringing a breeze!

Big eye needle on C-Lon Tex 400

I started by stringing on the marker bead that will fall at the back of your neck.

Mala necklace adding beads

Next string on 33 of your wooden counting beads. We chose a “Mantra Mala” pattern. The wood bead layout will be M-33-M-21-(M/center tassel)-21-M-33 with each section being separated by a marker bead (M).

Adding beads to mala necklace

Once you have strung on 33 beads add the next marker bead. String on the next section of counting beads by adding 21 wooden beads.

Mala necklace project

At this point you have reached the center of the Mala. Pull out a length of cord from your spool. Leave yourself at least 6-8 inches of extra cord on each end when you cut off of the spool. String the second side of your Mala, following the same 33-21 pattern.

Mala necklace with wooden beads

Once you have finished stringing you are ready to bring together the center of the necklace.

Mala project example

Add an 8/0 seed bead onto each side of your cord.

Adding 8/0 seed bead to mala necklace

Tie a knot onto each side after the seed bead. Be sure to leave a little space when knotting off the necklace so the beads can slide along the cord. If you put the cord in a coiled or curved position while you knot it will keep the beads from becoming too tight.

Finishing a mala

Now you are ready to add the center Guru bead. String both cords through the bead, and set aside while you create your tassel.

Stringing on guru bead

To make the tassel we use the C-Lon Micro cord. You will need to find something to wrap the cord around. I am using this wooden tray that measures about 7.5 inches across. The cord will be folded in half when you create the tassel so keep that in mind. A 7 - 8 inch tray will yield a 3.5 - 4 inch tassel. A piece of cardboard or even a thin book will also work well for this.

Making a tassel

Wrap the cord around the board. The more wraps the thicker your tassel will be. I wrapped my cord approximately 108 times.

Wrapping cord for a tassel

Once finished wrapping, snip the cord off the spool and slide your loop of cord off the board

Tassel making in progress

Using a piece of micro cord, tie a square knot around the center of the looped cord.

Making a tassel from cord

This will help to fold your tassel and keep the looped cord together.

Mala tassel making

Fold the cord in half. Cut a 12” piece of the Tex 400 cord and wrap the tassel 5-6 times approximately 1/2” down from the top.

Tassel making

Wrap the cord securely and fasten with a square knot.

Mala tassels

I selected two different colors for the micro cord and Tex cord to have a bit of contrast for the tassel. But you could also choose two cords of the same color.

Close up of finished tassel

Cut the looped end of the tassel, on the end opposite from where it has been tied together.

Cutting the tassel loop

At this point you may want to wet the tassel cord to help straighten and relax the strands.

Tassel made from cord

Trim once more to even out the cord ends.

Trimmed tassel

Put a dot of the Hypo cement on the square knot to further secure your tassel.

Close up of finished tassel

Go back to your strung beads and add an overhand knot below your Guru bead.

Tying off mala

Take the two ends of cord from the Mala and loop through the tassel in opposite directions.

Attaching tassel to mala

Loop these ends over the top and through the tassel a couple of times.

Tassel secured to mala

Tie off by making a square knot that will be hidden inside of the tassel loop.

Tying off tassel on mala

Add another dab of Hypo Cement to secure the knot and trim the ends once dry.

Finishing tassel on mala

Enjoy wearing your Mala!


Mala necklace

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