To make these ornaments, we took apart some faux pearl necklaces, re-strung the beads on dressmaker pins and then inserted the pins into polystyrene balls. These ornaments are easy to make, and they make great gifts.
Make sure the necklaces you are taking apart are not valuable. There is a way to test for real pearls — check online. Cut the string of the costume jewelry and pour the beads into a platter with raised sides. You don't want to use a bowl — it is hard to maneuver a pin in it.
Choose the size of the Styrofoam ball you want to work with, depending on the amount of beads you have.
Start stringing your beads onto the pins, leaving at least 1/2 to 1/3 of the pin exposed. Do a variety of patterns: one bead, two beads, three, depending on the size and shape. Always put the smallest bead on first, then the largest. Use the seed beads as toppers on the pinheads. Also, use them if the bead holes are too large and can slip through the pinhead.
Put a little glue on the tip of the pin and then insert it into the Styrofoam. The glue will help keep it all together and prevent the pins from sliding out of the ball.
When you get close to filling the whole ball, add ribbon to the top. Glue down the ribbon, then pin it down with beads; glue the pins down, too.
Fill in whole ball. When it gets harder to fill in some tiny spots, use the seed beads, four or five together, as filler and for additional height.
Joanne Palmisano is the author of Salvage Secrets (W.W. Norton, September 2011). Visit her blog, also called Salvage Secrets.