You can purchase a finished 108 bead mala in Sandalwood, Rudraksha Seeds, Bone, Rosewood, etc. and use this for the base beads for your mala or you can purchase your 108 base beads individually. If you are following my design, you’ll only need 102 base beads
Guru Bead - the guru bead is the 109th bead which brings together the circle of beads and sits on top of your tassel. If you’ve purchased a complete mala you’ll have this bead, otherwise you’ll have to purchase either a 3-hole bead or a bead with a hole large enough to allow you to thread two strands of your stringing cord.
Accent beads - for the mala I made, I used 6 Black Tourmaline beads (8mm) and 4 Black Tourmaline beads (10mm). I used 3 of these 10mm beads as “counters” spacing the mala into 4 sections of 27 beads. In this case the “counters” are in addition to the 108 beads. The remaining 10mm bead was used as an accent below my guru bead.
Stringing cord - I like to use S-Lon nylon (pictured below on spool), or natural silk which comes in 2 yard packages with needle attached. For an unknotted mala using 8mm beads you will need about 42” of cord for stringing.
Tassel thread - either silk or pearl cotton make nice soft tassels. A 2 yard package of size 6 silk will make a 3” tassel of medium thickness.
Metallic thread - this is optional, but I like to use a contrasting thread (silver or gold) in some cases to wrap my tassel. You can, of course just use the same thread as you are using to create your tassel.
Scissors & Twisted Wire Needles (you won’t need the needles if using the packaged silk cord with needle attached)
Begin by threading a twisted wire needle onto your length of stringing cord (if one isn’t already attached). Pinch the eye of the needle to snug onto cord which will allow it to pass easily through holes in beads. Curve your needle as shown to make it easier to thread through the 3-hole guru bead (109th bead on malas). The mala you are using for your base beads may have this 3-hole guru bead, or it may just have a regular bead as the center bead.
If you’re using a 3-hole guru bead it will have one bottom hole (from which tassel will hang) and two side holes (which put the guru bead in the center of the mala). Begin by threading needle up into the bottom hole and out through one of the side holes. This is where having a curve in your needle will be helpful.
Begin stringing your beads. The pattern below is one that I like and use often. I string one of my base beads beside the guru bead, then 3 accent beads with base beads in between.
As I mentioned above, I like using a pattern which utilizes “counter” beads. These “counter” beads serve to mark intervals in the mala, dividing it into four 27 bead sections in between each counter bead. I like the look of this and when using for meditation it helps to keep your place as you count.
Alternatively, you can simply string your 108 beads with the guru as the center and 109th bead.
When you are finished stringing all your beads, thread the needle into the other side hole of your 3-hole guru bead and down through the bottom hole alongside the other end of your cord. You will use these ends for tying your tassel on.
If you choose to, you can thread an accent bead onto your cords below the guru bead (this is all about looks and is completely optional).
Making the tassel:
Take your silk or pearl cotton cord and wrap onto a piece of cardboard that is cut to about 3” wide (longer if you would like a longer tassel).
Wrap 2 yards of cord around the cardboard. Reserve about 6” if using same cord to gather the tassel.
While cord is still on the cardboard, tie the two end cords on the mala underneath one side of the tassel cords. Snug up the mala cord and tie securely. I do about 3 knots on top of each other. These will be hidden inside the tassel.
When knots are secure, you can slide the tassel cords off of the cardboard.
Find the middle point on bottom of tassel and cut open the loops to form the two sides of the tassel.
Locate the knot you just made and tighten if necessary. If you used silk cord you can use glue to secure knot and then trim the ends.
If you used synthetic cord (nylon) to string your mala, you can trim the cords about 3mm from the knot and use a lighter to carefully melt the ends back, securing the knot.
Now we’ll gather the two sides together wrapping the cords with either the metallic thread or the same cord you used for your tassel.
Start with the end of the cord at the bottom of the tassel. Bring it up to the top of the tassel, then loop it back down to where we’ll begin the bottom of our wrap. Keeping that loop in place begin wrapping the thread from bottom to top. Make your wraps nice and tight. Pass thread through loop and pull loop tight by pulling down on thread hanging down from loop. Pull tight on both top and bottom threads to tighten securely.
Add some glue if you wish to ensure wrap stays secure.
I like to leave the bottom of the metallic thread in place, but I trim the top thread. Trim the ends of the tassel to a uniform length and you’re done!
A beautiful, simple and meaningful mala.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment. ~ Buddha