Vintage Gumball Machine Necklace Tutorial

October 3, 2012 separator DIY Tutorial

I’ve been contributing all over the place lately, and this project is one I originally put together for Crafts Unleashed. I just had to do something with this little gumball machine because every single time I pass the dollhouse miniatures at the craft store, I want to make every cute, tiny thing into something else. 
This necklace would make a great gift for a little girl or the perfect whimsical addition to any grown up outfit. White tee, jeans, and a gumball necklace? Check! I’d recommend making it on a long chain, maybe 30 inches or so, for an adult version. You can customize all the bead colors, too. 

What You Need
  • Pearl Beads
  • Miniature Gumball Machine
  • Jewelry Wire
  • Chain Necklace
  • Round Nose and Wire Cutter Pliers (This set includes both.)
  • Eye Pins
  • Bright Nail Polish
  • Toothpicks

1.   Stick a pearl bead onto each end of a toothpick. Holding the middle of the toothpick, paint both pearls with the same bright, fun shade of nail polish. I found that it works well to hold the brush onto the bead and then twirl the toothpick. The bead picks up a nice, even coat of color. Prop the toothpick over something so that neither bead touches anything. Leave it to dry while you do the same thing with two more colors of polish, for a total of six beads. In between later steps, go back and add coats of polish to the dried beads until you’ve got a nice, opaque color.

2.   Clip your necklace right in the front middle. Alternately, you could use chain and clasp components if you want to start from scratch, but if you start with a chain necklace, half the work is already done for you!

3.   Cut a piece of wire about 4-5 inches long so that you have plenty of room to work with. Using your round nose pliers, bend a loop in one end, leaving enough ‘tail’ on the loop to wrap it in the next step.

4.   Thread the tail of the loop through one end of the chain. Wrap the tail around the base of the loop a few times to secure it. You can see the wrap in the next step.

5.   For this step, be very careful with the top of the gumball machine – it’s thing glass. You have to squeeze pretty hard, but you can break it. Ask me how I know that… Now wrap the wire around the neck of the bubblegum machine. Start the wrap so that the loop with the chain is tight against one side of the gumball machine. Wrap the wire around the whole thing twice, making sure that it’s really tight.

*Though I didn’t try it, you could probably paint right over the red metal on the gumball machine with nail polish if you wanted to try a different color. It might scratch more easily, so you’d have to be careful with it.

6.    Now make another loop at the loose end of the wire, thread it through the chain, and wrap it around its base again. Clip the extra wire flush with the base of the loop so that there aren’t any pieces left to poke you.

7.   Now you’re going to clip the necklace chain again. This time, clip it 1.5-2 inches away from the bubblegum machine on each side, measuring to be sure you’ve left even lengths.

8.   Thread the looped end of an eye pin through one end of the chain. After the beads have been painted with enough polish and are completely dry, slide one of each color onto the eye pin. Use the round nose pliers to make a loop in the other end of the eye pin, snipping the excess with the wire cutters.

9.   Repeat for the other side, and then thread the end loops of the eye pins through the necklace chain. If you used a pre-finished necklace, then you’re good to go! If you started from scratch, then attach your clasps, and then you’re finished, too!

* Disclosure – certain links within this post may result in a comission for Shrimp Salad Circus. See my disclosure statement for more information.


    1. Rachel – you should give it a try! This one’s deceptively easy. 😀

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