How to make quick and easy leather bug repellent jewelry

About six months ago, Brian and I started to get into hiking. We have really enjoyed exploring different metro parks in the Cleveland area and it is fantastic exercise. One of the problems that we often run into is bugs. And I hate the feel and smell of bug spray on my skin. So, I did some research into bug repellent jewelry options. Keep reading below for an overview of how to make quick and easy leather bug repellent jewelry for your outdoor adventures.

the finished bug repellent jewelry
The finished bug repellent jewelry

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I initially intended to purchase bug repellent jewelry but was unhappy with available options. Many options appeared to be tailored to children and included bright colors. Other options were quite large and used reservoirs to hold bug repellent. I was hoping for something a bit more subtle. So I did some research on how to make my own bug repellent jewelry.

The information that I found online suggested that any absorbent material could be used to make bug repellent jewelry. The most common materials used included leather and paracord. Another tutorial recommended using clay beads. After researching some jewelry designs, I decided to use leather cording because I felt that this would result in the most understated finished product.

The design

I spent some time researching different leather jewelry designs. Ultimately, I chose simple necklace and bracelet designs that used slip knots. Using a slip knot design allows us to adjust the fit of the jewelry and eliminates the need for any metal hardware. I chose a medium color leather cord from the crafts store to create both pieces.

For the bracelet, I cut a piece of 3mm leather cording 20” long. From there, I followed a simple online tutorial for making slip knots. It took me a few tries to get the knots right, but once I mastered the technique, it was quite easy to replicate. I added two slip knots and was finished.

For the necklace, I chose to add a heavy duty metal O-ring as an amulet. I liked the way this looked aesthetically and thought that it would help weigh down the necklace so that it would stay in place and not twist around the neck. I first cut a piece of leather about 36” long. Next, I used a lark’s head knot to attach the O-ring to the center of the piece of leather. Once the O-ring was attached, I just had to tie two of the same slip knots that I used to make the bracelets.

Bug Repellent

There are several options to add bug repellent to your leather (or other material) jewelry. Many posts online suggest a combination of essential oils. The most commonly suggested essential oils seem to be citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, lemon grass, and lavender. My understanding is that these oils should be combined with a carrier oil such as olive oil to dilute them. You can also purchase bug repellent essential oil mixes designed specifically for that purpose.

As I am unfamiliar with essential oils, I decided to use Repel plant-based eucalyptus and lemon bug repellent spray. Prior to wearing the jewelry, we just spray the leather generously with the bug spray and let it dry for a few minutes before wearing. The jewelry appeared to be effective. We wore the jewelry on our recent trip to Hocking Hills and The Wilds and were not bothered by any bugs. Because we are already into early fall, the real test will be to wear the jewelry on hikes next summer.

The bug repellent definitely wears off and will likely need to be reapplied to the jewelry each time you wear it. I could definitely smell the bug repellent while I was wearing it, so make sure you select a bug repellent or essential oil mixture that you can tolerate. The bug repellent I chose has a strong eucalyptus smell. Brian said it smells a bit manly, but I don’t mind if it keeps the bugs away. I cannot speak to the difference in effectiveness between using the essential oils and the bug spray, but I would recommend trying whatever you are most comfortable with. Whatever you choose needs to be a scent that you can tolerate and easily reapply if need be.

Supplies used

Materials used for this project

For this quick and easy project, you don’t need very many supplies:

  1. Leather cord (I used 3mm thick cord)
  2. Scissors
  3. An amulet such as a heavy duty O-ring
  4. A ruler
  5. Bug repellant or essential oils

It is really that easy to make this project, but I encourage you to alter it to fit your preferences.

This project could be adapted to a number of different materials. Jewelry with leather, wood, clay, and lava stone are all good options. You can even purchase diffuser jewelry designed to hold essential oils for this project. So you can really be creative and purchase or make many styles of jewelry to act as a bug repellent. 

Have you ever made leather or bug repellent jewelry? Please let me know any tips you might have for someone working on a similar project.

If you are looking for more crafty inspiration, check out my post on candle making or my post on upcycling old vases!

I am so glad you visited us at Jack and Bax. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter (sign up available either on the right sidebar or at the bottom of the page). And please follow me on Instagram and Facebook so that you don’t miss any of my upcoming projects!

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