Bead Pets, Beadies, Bead Critters

Bead pets, also known as “beadies” in Europe or bead critters, are a popular craft project that can be made using pony beads of various size.  Children all around the world love making them and hanging them on their back-packs.  These colorful beads are small, but easy to work with, making them a great option for kids and adults alike. With just a few simple materials and some creativity, you can create a variety of different bead pets, pop culture figures, or wearable crafts like a tie, belt or bow.

In the 1960s, a company called Pop Beads began manufacturing plastic beads that could be strung together to create a variety of designs, including animal shapes. This sparked the interest of crafters and children around the world, and soon bead animals became a popular pastime for both children and adults.  Scout camps taught bead pets on a regular basis, as did after school programs. 

Patterns hadn’t really changed in 60 years . . . until now.  There are updated techniques and supplies, but the fun still remains.  Patterns have gotten a little more intricate too as the techniques have changed.

To make a basic bead pet, or bead animal, you will need some pony beads.  You can order them on-line at stores like: The Pony Bead Store, or The Bead Tin, or every craft store carries  pony beads. They are even available at Dollar stores.  Pony beads are plastic, colorful, 6x9mm beads. There is a smaller version of pony beads that is 4x6mm.  You can also use your Perler beads/Fuse beads too.  Those are 5x5mm in size.  Using Perler beads is fairly new for making them into bead pets and some of the regular patterns need a little adjustment like adding extra rows because Perler Beads are a square shape, and pony beads are an oblong shape.

For Bead Pets you will need some #3 or #5 cotton string, a pair of scissors, and lanyard clasps (optional). Don’t forget the new way of doing them – using straws and needles.  I do not use or teach patterns using the old way that uses plastic string/cord.

Start by choosing your pattern and then bead colors and arrange them in the pattern or design of your choice. There are thousands of patterns on Pinterest, Etsy, Amazon, or Youtube.  Once you understand the basics of how to make one, you can usually figure out the next one by yourself.  Watch a few tutorials.  Once you have rows arranged and beads on the straws, string them onto your string, criss-crossing row by row making sure to leave a little extra at the ends for tying.  When you have mastered basic bead pets, you can learn how to make bead pets using a peyote stitch – but that’s a subject for another lesson.  

Once you have finished stringing your beads and tying a knot, your bead pet is now complete and ready to be displayed on a back-pack, used as a magnet, or given as a key-chain gift.  You can hang them on the wall or window.  One year my grandson had 13 bead pets hanging from his school back-pack.  Some of his friends would come over and he would teach them how to make them.  Then he started designing and making some of his own original patterns.  It was fun to watch his natural progression.  

Overall, bead pets are a fun and easy craft project that can be enjoyed by people of all ages 5+. The hardest part is tying a square knot.  Whether you’re looking to create a cute key-chain, magnet, or larger art work, the possibilities are endless with this versatile craft. So gather some pony beads and start creating today!

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
    Skip to content