Indian Corn and Colorful Dyed Pumpkin Seed Necklaces


This is not how this post was supposed to go!


THIS was what I had planned. A two picture, very quick post about letting your kids make necklaces, hat bands, or bracelets out of Indian Corn and squash or pumpkin seeds!


And this picture - the very easy tutorial!

Indian Corn is appearing on farms and in markets everywhere. It hasn't hardened yet, so it is the perfect time to string the fresh kernels and some cleaned and dried squash (or pumpkin) seeds.

Unfortunately, sitting quietly, feeding the squash seeds and Indian Corn kernels onto my fishing line gave my mind way too much room to start playing with ideas!


And the next thing I know, Easter Eggs came to mind and I am mixing up a strong solution of Wylers drink mix (no Kool-aid in the house) to see if I can dye squash seeds.

After about four hours and nothing significant to show for my effort, I tossed the mixture knowing the squirrels would love feasting on tropical fruit flavored seeds!


Food coloring?

That was the ticket! But, it was necessary to leave them in the jar overnight.

For the first few hours, the seeds just floated so only the parts exposed to the liquid actually absorbed color. By leaving them overnight, the seeds absorbed enough dye water to sink to the bottom of the jar and the dye was then able to reach all surfaces.


I started with red. And then thought - well, red is great for testing, but this is FALL! I need orange and black!

Orange was easy - I mixed red and yellow together.

But black? Blue and red make purple. I added green. The solution looked yucky black to me!

As you can see, the red food coloring did a great job of dying the seeds evenly. Although not as even, the dyes did work on the orange and black (I don't care what your eyes are telling you, that is black).


Dry and ready to string!

I decided to use the red seeds along with the orange and purple - er - black. I even added some naturally colored seeds. The combination reflects the colors found in Indian Corn don't you think?


Actually - I love this necklace!

And I think kids would love making their own. Stringing is very, very easy and goes surprisingly quickly.

A few tips!

As soon as you remove the seeds and slimy, yucky pulp from the pumpkin or squash, dump them in a basin of cold water. Magically, the seed separate from the pulp.

Spread the wet seeds onto a non-stick jelly roll pan to dry, stirring them frequently to allow air to reach all surfaces. Use wax paper like I did and you will be sorry! Seeds stick to wax paper. (Drying usually takes most of the day and final drying overnight.)

If you plan on saving your seeds for several months, be sure to thoroughly dry them out in a very low oven for a couple hours. Otherwise, the moisture remaining in the seeds will encourage mold to grow when stored in air-tight containers.

Of course, if you are dyeing your seeds, once clean, dump them in your dye bath! No need to dry them first.

I doubled 6 lb. super soft mono filament fishing line to string the corn and pumpkin seed necklace. And since my sweetie recently gave me a roll of nylon kite string I decided to give it a try as stringing material for the seed necklace. You can't break that stuff! Highly recommended for stringing kids projects if you have some.

For a necklace, use a piece of "string" about 12" longer than the circumference of your child's head so it can be slipped on and off easily. String seeds 2" longer than the head measurement. Tie a little slip knot to hold the seeds in place. Leave 2" - 3" on each end so that the necklace can rest on the back of the neck comfortably. Tie a surgeons knot and you are done!

I didn't try it, but I am thinking elastic used in beading would work great for bracelets.

Since there is the possibility that the dye might bleed onto your child's clothing if the seeds get wet, I am thinking it would be a good idea to spray the seeds with acrylic spray before stringing. But I have been wearing my unsprayed necklace for several days and have had no problems with dye transfering to my clothing.  Of course, I am staying out of the rain and sprinkler hoses!

Or just stick to my original idea and string Indian Corn and natural pumpkin seeds!

Thanks everyone for letting me share my adventures playing with Indian Corn. And I invite anyone with more ideas to share them in comments!

spray paint works well on

spray paint works well on dried seeds

Thank you Pat!  Never thought

Thank you Pat!  Never thought of it.  But would use with caution.  I actually spray painted dried gourds and after a couple seasons, th paint began flaking off.  After four years, my food color stained seed necklace looks just as beautiful as it did the day I made it!!!

I have a sculpture made of

I have a sculpture made of Texas limestone. 4 Indian figures made at the Taos Pueblo. 4' x 4' x 12" We want to make a simple decoration for Christmas. Will comercially dyed corn on necklaces 'bleed' in rain or snow? Jim Kerbow Christoval, Texas 

Jim, I would be very careful

Jim, I would be very careful as I think it might be possible bleeding will take place.  Natural corn kernals would be your best bet.

Black walnut husks would dye

Black walnut husks would dye them dark to black in color! Love to do this--we used to dye all kinds of seeds and string them--a very American Indian project. We used to do this with all of my Indian relatives.

Can you use pumpkin seeds

Can you use pumpkin seeds that you can buy in a bag at the store instead of using seeds from a pumpkin

In answer to your question -

In answer to your question - I really don't know!!!  And that is a very good question! Never gave it a thought!  I always have lots of squash seeds this time of year and just dry my own.

I suppose, if the pumpkin seeds don't have a bunch of salt or other flavorings on them, they should work just fine.  Try it!!  And let me know!!

The necklace looks great!! I

The necklace looks great!! I think I'd try dying the seeds with beet juice for a deep red, and maybe turmeric for some yellow, a mix for orange. Wonder what fruit or veg would make it black?

When using food coloring, if

When using food coloring, if having the colors bleed is an issue, I wonder if you could "set" the colors with vinegar? Also, I wonder how the dying process would go if you used fabric dye (like RIT) instead of food coloring? You may be able to get deeper colors that don't bleed.

I used to have a necklace that my mom bought me 50 years ago during a visit to Flagstaff and Sedona AZ. They dyed seeds (I think they may have been honeydew because they were a tad bit larger than cantaloupe). 3 seeds were strung thru their rounded end (pointy side down), separated by about 3/4 to 1" of seed beads. Instead of a clasp, the ends were secured to thin, dyed strips of suede so you could tie them behind your neck. The one I dearly loved used teal seeds, red beads, and teal suede.

Wow!  Thank you, Karla, for

Wow!  Thank you, Karla, for the information and for sharing it here for readers.  This project really was one of those "follow your muse where ever she goes" projects, so I really never started the project out at all with any intention of dyeing the seeds! 

I would love to know what was used to dye the seeds used in your necklace.  I was wearing my own necklace at the Pumpkin Patch this past weekend and a woman came up to me and complimented my necklace.  She proceeded to tell me that in Brazil, pumpkin seeds are dyed, strung and sold as necklaces.  Now you would think my first question would be "what do they use to dye the necklaces?"  But no!  Never thought to ask!

But I guess if a person were serious about dyeing, the Rit dye would probably work well.

I have had NO problem with the color coming off onto my clothing.  I placed the caution there only because, kids often have a greater exposure to getting wet than adults!

You're welcome Pam. BTW,

You're welcome Pam. BTW, forgot to mention in my previous post, your necklace is beautiful. :o)

Pam, great job! This is

Pam, great job! This is awesome.

Wonderful idea! Reminds me of

Wonderful idea! Reminds me of things I'd make with my grandmother. :D

Oh my gosh!! Just found your

Oh my gosh!! Just found your blog this AM and LOVE!! reading/viewing all the NEAT articles/tips/recipes, etc, etc...

LOVE the necklace!! Gonna try making one of these and also drying the beautiful Fall leaves here in Michigan...
I always wondered how you did this?? and have lots of ideas for using them.

Adding your blog to the "favorites"...thanks so much!

OMG.. SO CUTE!! you are such


SO CUTE!! you are such an inspiration!!


way to use your resources wisely!

Melissa from Naches, WA

Beauuuuuutiful seeds.

Beauuuuuutiful seeds. Wouldn't this make a terrific garland for your outdoor trees this winter for the birdies?

This is a coincidence! Your

This is a coincidence! Your last post made me think about a girl from my childhood, she made some beautiful necklaces made of corn dyed in lovely colours. I wondered how they were put on a string as they were rather hard, now you gave the answer.
It are some beautiful necklaces you have made.

AMAZING! I LOVE crafts that

AMAZING! I LOVE crafts that combine nature! My kids will LOVE doing this with me. LOVE it!

"(I don't care what your eyes

"(I don't care what your eyes are telling you, that is black)."

Love this! What a beautiful project! I was planning something like this, but I wasn't sure that it would go over much better than the cantaloupe seed necklaces we have made. Dying the seeds is the key! Thank you


Just discovered your blog and

Just discovered your blog and it is awesome. I will need to save digging through past blogs for a quiet, rainy morning, but the dolls and the Indian corn projects are great! I'll be linking on Facebook and visiting often. Thanks!

Beautiful necklaces!

Beautiful necklaces!

I love the look of the

I love the look of the colored pumpkin seeds necklace. I like the way the colored and dyed seeds work off each other.

Reading this post I felt so

Reading this post I felt so at home - this is so similar to how things unfold when my daughter and I are creating together. I love this, can't wait to try it, and am featuring it today on my blog!

I always have an issue with

I always have an issue with food dye that it bleeds, I make food and then my kids faces are green for days :) This is so cute.. i remember making neclaces out of red fruit bushes as kid, no idea what that was but this is much more sophisitcated and eatable.