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Saturday, February 28, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Now It's Beadie Babies -- Children And Adults Alike Are Stringing These Cute Hand-Size Creatures

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

First came Beanie Babies, cute beanbag creatures that quickly became collectibles. Now comes "beadie babies," make-it-yourself little bead geckos and other creatures of plastic beads and cord, strung by kids and adults alike.

Like Beanie Babies, the hand-size creatures are fun to look at, play with and collect, but they're even more fun to make.

When Susan Haroian saw her first gecko last summer, she challenged her staff and customers at Ben Franklin Crafts and Frame Shop in Redmond to come up with other designs.

Since then they've crafted dozens of colorful dragonflies, giraffes, platypuses, ladybugs, elephants, dinosaurs, frogs, turtles, bears, bunnies, bats, skunks and other creatures, and have drawn patterns to share. Schoolteachers are having students design and make them as projects for counting, patterning and art. And parents report that making beadie babies is a great birthday party project and take-home favor, not only for school-age kids but also for teens.

Materials can be found at craft, bead and fabric stores. Figure $2-$3 per creature, or less if you you buy beads and cord in bulk. Smaller creatures, down to earring and jewelry size, can be made with smaller beads using a beading needle and thread or beading wire.

"We've got all ages making these, kids, parents, boys, girls, even teenagers," Haroian said. "They're fun. Once you've learned to make a basic creature, you can dream up all sorts of them."

Allow about an hour for children ages 6 and up to make their first creatures, following the directions provided here. Experienced kids can make them in about 15 minutes. Adults often need longer - but don't worry, it's far easier than it looks!

Beadie babies patterns courtesy of by Ben Franklin Crafts and Frame Shop, 15756 Redmond Way, Redmond, 425-883-2050. ------------------------------- Supplies for beadie babies are available at craft, bead and fabric stores

HOLDER: Key ring or lanyard hook, about 10 cents each, or loop cord through first bead for starting place. CORD: Satin beading cord, also called a rat tail cord, works great, 20-yard spool, 2mm width, about $8. Some people prefer stiffer plastic lanyard cord, 100-yard spool, $3-$6, or thin satin ribbon, 20-yard spool, 3mm width, about 50 cents. Cord is easier to thread through beads; ribbon is cheaper and makes a more flexible animal. If you use satin cord or ribbon, wrap end in tape to make it easier to poke through beads. Some stores sell cording in smaller packages or by the yard. BEADS: Plastic pony beads (6mm) in assorted colors, bags of 100-150 cost $1-$2; bags of 700-plus about $4. Other options, more expensive glass pony beads, or smaller seed beads and beading wire to make jewelry-size animals. ------------------------------- Basic directions: 1. Find the halfway point of the cord or ribbon and double knot it onto the ring or hook, or loop it through first bead. 2. Using patterns provided (or make up your own), string/weave the beads onto the cord. 3. After finishing the beadie baby, make sure cord is loose enough that the creature lies flat. Then tie a double knot at end. 4. Three or four beads can be tied on ends of the cords as tail or finishing touch. ------------------------------- GECKO 2 yards cord or ribbon 20 green pony beads 32 blue pony beads 2 black pony beads for eyes

LADYBUG lanyard hook or key ring 2 yards cord 27 black pony beads 37 red pony beads

BUMBLE BEE lanyard hook or key ring 2 yards cord or ribbon 30 black pony beads 16 yellow pony beads 20 white pony beads

TURTLE lanyard hook or key ring 2 yards cord or ribbon 30 dark green pony beads 48 light green pony beads

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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