Bead Curtains are back!

Bead curtains used to be really popular in the 70’s. The grooviest ones back then were made of bamboo. They were the ones that made that cool hollow clinky noise whenever anyone moved through them.  Paired with a black light they were the epitome of cool. And if  in addition to that you owned a Peter Maxx poster, you were da bomb. Everyone wanted to hang out at your place! There were also curtains made of  huge plastic beads that came in different shapes and colors. Those were the more grown up kind and I remember that my aunt used to have some dark blue beaded curtains which she eventually cut up and turned into a lampshade. Yes, that was weird. Then they vanished from stores and anyone who had any still lurking in their homes  gave them quietly away  to the Salvation Army.  Today bead curtains are back in style, and boy have they come a long way since the days of Woodstock!  I recently bought an irridescent crystal bead curtain on Ebay for about 26 dollars.  Ok, they’re not REAL crystals. They’re acrylic. But the beads are faceted so they sparkle and shine almost like the real thing, plus they are very lightweight. They’re easy to hang because they come strung on a metal topper with two hook eyes that you can hang on just two screws. (or nails) I bought the bead curtain to block the unsightly view of the guest bath at the end of the hall in our new house and it was simply perfect for that particular spot. I loved the look of the glimmering curtain but the only problem was that the bead strands were spaced at about one inch apart. That still left quite a bit of visibility. I wondered if I might be able to add more bead strands to the curtain.

The original bead curtain that I bought. The strands were spaced quite far apart.

I decided to open up the metal rod at the top and take a look inside. The only way to achieve this was to pry open one of the plastic end caps that were glued to either end of the rod. These are glued on very tight and you have to pry them open with a knife or a screwdriver, being very careful not to break or crack them  them. I took off the cap on the right side first.

The caps on either end of the metal rod are tightly glued in place but they can be removed with a bit of prying

Once I had the metal rod open, I discovered that there was a plastic track with slots inside of  it. The existing strands were hooked in these slots but there were several empty slots between strands so I knew I could hang more strands of beads from the empty slots.

The bead strands are hooked into a long piece of plastic with slots in it. These are inside of the metal rod

Now I just had to locate extra beads somewhere. After a bit of searching around, I found that several online stores sell spools of acrylic beads that are identical to the ones that the curtains are made out of. I wasn’t quite sure how much I was going to need so I ordered a 99 foot roll. These bead spools are also called Acrylic Garlands and they are often sold at wedding supply stores. I cut the entire roll into six foot lengths which was the exact length of the strands on the curtain. The good thing about these strung beads is that you can cut them at any point and the beads won’t fall off.

Spools of acrylic beads can be purchased at most wedding supply stores or on Ebay

After I had the entire spool cut into six foot lengths, I got to work adding the strands. I found that the plastic track inside the metal rod was actually divided into two separate pieces. One on the left and the other on the right. Since I had pried open the right side plastic cap first, I carefully slid out the track that was on the right side and began adding the new bead strands. I soon discovered that I was going to need more than one spool of beads and my calculations had been a bit off. Each curtain comes with 23 bead strands and I wanted to double that amount. That meant that I would need 23 more strands i.e. 138 more feet of bead. Unfortunately each spool contained 99 feet of beads. That meant I’d have to order an additional spool. Each spool cost 24 dollars including shipping, so in the long run it would have been alot less expensive to buy an additional CURTAIN and just take the strands off the second curtain and add them to the first. Oh well. Live and learn. I ended up not doubling the number of bead strands but rather, placing three together and then leaving two empty slots, then three more strands and two empty slots, three more…and so on. It turned out quite well and I was satisfied with the result. The good thing is that I only used a little bit more than one third of the second spool by placing them in this manner,  and that meant that I would have alot of  strung beads left over for another project which is in the works even as we speak. Ha!  Now the eyesore bathroom at the end of the hall is quite effectively hidden from view and the curtain is a real conversation piece. Very retro indeed!

Betcha can't see the bathroom!

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2 thoughts on “Bead Curtains are back!

    • Hi Robert, I’m afraid I don’t sell these curtains. I bought mine on Ebay along with an extra spool of acrylic beads to make the curtain more substantial and then I installed it myself. This blog entry was just to show folks how to add more strands to an existing bead curtain, most of which come with too few strands. Saludos!

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