Paper beading is probably one of the least expensive crafts to get into and, it is the fastest way to produce artsy jewelry. Paper beading is also probably one of the most addictive crafts I know of. When I talk to people about ‘paper beads’, they often look at me as if I am mad.However, when I show them the beads, the usual response is, wow, you made them from paper?
The other thing about making artsy jewelry from paper beads is they way it makes you fall in love with junk mail and supermarket magazines. It also helps you stop hitting the postman for trying to put rubbish through your front door. You will no longer want to fling the front door open and shower the postie with all the junk he just put through your letter box.
Making paper beads also gives you a whole new perspective on the racks of seemingly useless leaflets and free magazines in supermarkets. You will no longer just walk past them muttering about wasted trees like a grumpy old hippy. You’ll probably do what I do and hover around the
customer services desks trying not to look as if you are about to pinch their entire supply of the current in-house magazines.
Recently, I became so absorbed in feeling all the leaflets in the racks by customer services that at first, I didn’t notice a security guard staring at me. I must have looked very odd standing there rubbing leaflets between my fingers as I checked the paper quality and thickness.
The thing is though, you can’t really get into trouble for taking something that is free can you? I think the security guard was more bewildered than suspicious. He’s probably never seen anyone spend so much time touching leaflets for over 50s health insurance and flu jabs. I expect most people read them rather than feel them.
Paper Beads Have turned me into a waste paper junkie!
I have begun to raid the recycling bins of my friends and family and beg them for the newspaper color supplements that most people moan about as they
fall out of the newspaper by the ton. Not me – I can’t get enough now that I want to turn them into jewellery
Paper Beads and even crafting in general makes me love waste paper, card and bags!
Once word got round in my family that I wanted everyone’s junk paper etc, I got so much of it that I had to dedicate a corner of my studio/workshop to storing it. I think I now have more color supplements than most newsagents. I probably don’t have enough productive years of life left to use it all but at least it will give my kids something to do when I pop my clogs. I can hear them now at my funeral after-party saying, come on, I suppose we’d better go and hire a 10 ton truck to shift mother’s ‘craft supplies’.
But what is so brilliant about paper beads?
Well, I think it’s the fact that you can take a mundane sheet of A4 paper and turn it into a very pretty bracelet.
And, you don’t need to be a crafting expert to produce some really beautiful pieces. With a little practice and some imagination, you can make some really cool stuff very quickly.
It’s amazing how quickly paper beads mount up when you get into it. Before long, you will have thousands of them! And your annoyance at the postman for dumping rubbish through your door will change to gratitude for the lovely free craft resources brings you!
It made me smile to think that a national pizza chain was spending good money on full colour printing to supply me with free paper beading material. Every time another full color flyer, magazine or leaflet drops onto my mat, I feel love for marketing departments all over the UK as they keep me supplied with lovely paper.
When I first got into making paper beads many years ago, I found the process quite drawn out.
There was lots of measuring and drawing lines. Each bead is made from a strip of paper. The shape, length and thickness of the strip is what determines the size and shape of the bead.
So I created my own templates to use. I also used the templates in my workshop with my students and they loved them.
Eventually I designed sets of templates that anyone could buy, even if they hadn’t been to one of my workshops and they are available here in my Etsy shop.
Although I love using junk mail and scrap paper to make my beads, I also love using my own paintings to create wearable art.
For this article, I used the brown paper fabric I created in my last blog post.
You can find the link to that here. You can still recycle scrap paper doing this if you collect the right kind of paper. Just this morning, a parcel arrived from Amazon. It was a replacement liner for the cafetiere I managed to break two days after my husband got it for Christmas. It was packed in yards and yards of the kind of brown paper that is perfect for turning into painted ‘fabric’ using the method outlined here last month. So I snaffled that straight away and will be turning it into thousands more paper beads.
Want to Make Your Own Paper Beads?
Many years ago, I developed a paper bead rolling tool for my own use because I was frustrated with using pieces of bamboo and other unsatisfactory methods of rolling.
Over the years, I have developed the tool from the original handle, which was curved,
to a straight handle which was cheaper, easier to produce and lighter for posting out to people who wanted to buy them . But as most of my students preferred the old style handle, we have now gone back to using the curvier handles that are easier to grip with the thumb and forefinger when rolling.
These paper bead tools are the easiest bead rolling tools you will ever use. They take the stress and fumble out of getting the beads off the roller – they come off easily every time because of the stainless steel shaft. You can find my tools in two sizes by clicking here.
You will find that when you buy the two tools together, you get my paper bead strip stencil free!
The stencil can be used to create bead strips in four different sizes. If you want to see my tools and stencils in action, click here to see the video on my YouTube channel.
If you explore both of them, you will find out how to use my 5mm tool to make gorgeous European style beads with the pandora look. You will also find out how to use my 3mm tool to make beads with a smaller hole for finer threading materials. Who knows, you could even start selling your artsy jewelry at craft fairs – so what are you waiting for!