The Art of Paper Beads
How to get this...
Paper beading is probably one of the least expensive crafts to get into. It is also probably the most addictive. 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 paper beads is they way it makes you fall in love with junk mail and helps you stop hitting the postman for trying to put rubbish through your front door. Gone are the days when I would fling the front door open and shower the postie with all the junk he just put through my letter box.
Making paper beads also gave me a whole new perspective on the racks of seemingly useless leaflets and free magazines in supermarkets. I used to walk past them muttering about wasted trees like a grumpy old hippy. But now, I hover around the customer services desks trying not to look as if I am 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 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 Will Make You Love Junk Mail!
Once word got round in my family that I wanted everyone's junk mail, 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.
When I first got into making paper beads, I was amazed at how quickly they mounted up. Before long, I had thousands of them. And my anger at the postman for dumping rubbish through my door changed to gratitude for the lovely free craft resources he was bringing me.
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, 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 began using templates which is so much quicker - but more about that later on.
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.
Learn How to Make Your Own Paper Beads
If you want to learn more about the process of how I created the bracelet at the top of the page, watch out for my new website - www.funcraftstodoathome.com which is coming very soon. On there, you will find details of workshops I will be holding to help people learn how to make stunning beads, very cheaply. More about that when the site goes live! There will also be information about how to buy the new, very reasonably priced bead rolling tool I have just finished designing.
This tool will be the easiest bead rolling tool you have ever used. It takes the stress and fumble out of getting the beads off the roller - they come off easily every time! I designed it because I was fed up with both the cost of the good ones I found from the US and the problems of getting beads off the homemade bamboo rollers without wrecking them.
Just wait until you see my new tool! You will LOVE it.
For people who are already seasoned paper bead makers, you can buy the downloadable template I used to get rid of the hassle of measuring and cutting the strips by clicking here to go to etsy.co.uk. Using a template really does cut down on the boring, time consuming part of making paper beads. The downloadable templates in varying sizes are really simple to use and can be used as many times as you like once you have bought them.
Using the templates leaves you with more time to concentrate on the creative side of paper beads.
Even the template paper does not go to waste! Of course, in the process of using it as a guide for cutting your art paper up, you create just as many plain white strips of printer paper. And these strips are a valuable resource. In my next post, I will be showing you a very simple way to use the 'scrap' paper from the template to create an elegant piece of jewellery that is just as pretty as whatever you made from your art paper.
Have fun with your paper beads!