Paper bead making is so simple if you have the right tool and a bit of know how.
Ever since I discovered the versatility and creativity of using paper to make pretty jewellery pieces, I have been hooked. Paper bead making is now one of my favourite crafts.
Making paper beads has been an obsession of mine for a very long time now and recently, I started sharing my passion with others. A group of artists asked me to go along to one of their monthly meet ups and teach them the basics of paper bead making. The workshop was a great success; all the women in the group got hooked after finding how addictive the paper bead making process is.
Many people comment on the paper bead bracelets I wear saying how pretty and unusual they are. When I tell them the bracelets are made from paper they are always shocked. The jewellery I make is created using a variety of techniques and materials.
For paper bead making, I use anything from plain paper to my own art work, junk mail, magazine pages and paper bags.
There is nothing that I won't consider for making my beads! My favourite trick is to go into my local card shop to buy someone a birthday card and then using the bag to make a present. No, I'm not mean! I just love making something we usually screw up and throw away into something beautiful to wear.
The birthday cards from my local shop always come in a pretty paper bag made of very thin but colourful paper. I open the bag out and use it to make paper beads. One small bag makes enough paper beads to create a double strand bracelet. I add my own tiny gold beads and a charm and it makes a beautiful, unusual gift.
The bracelet on the left is one of my paper bag bracelets.
When I did the workshop with the artists, I took one of the paper bags to show them, along with a bracelet I had made from one. They were really surprised at how delicate and pretty it was. The workshop that followed was fun and productive. It led to a second one later in the month because we couldn't cover everything in one class.
By the end of the second workshop, each person had made their own bracelet. At the start, they had been in awe of my little box full of paper bead jewellery. They assumed it would be hard to for them to make similar pieces. But once they knew the technique, they were all converts to paper bead making!
More workshops will follow and as I plan on keeping them to 10 people or less, I can give plenty of one on one help. When people first see the bracelets I make, their first reaction is 'wow, I couldn't do that! How do you make beads like that from paper?' But once they understand the process and the possibilities, they are making their own paper beads within the hour and can't wait to go off and experiment with their own designs.
Paper bead workshop
The key to successful paper bead making is having the tool.
They are notoriously hard to get hold of and the ones I found (mainly in the USA) were so expensive I began to make my own. At first, I used bamboo which I split and bound to create the slot needed to 'trap' the paper when you wind it.
That worked ok but the beads were not always easy to remove once finished. They would get stuck and pull the centre out of the bead sometimes - very annoying! So I have been working to create the perfect beading tool and I think I have now got pretty close to that.
I have now made some in stainless steel and the beads just slide smoothly off every time. The new tool The Easy Beady by Gilly tools will be available on eBay and you can order yours by clicking here.
The tool is a very basic piece of equipment but is an essential part of the paper bead making process - it is the key to stress-free paper bead making.
Paper bead bracelets made by the women in my workshop after only two sessions, using plain copier paper that they hand-coloured themselves.
If you are interested in attending a workshop in Suffolk, UK, please contact me via the contact form on this website. If you are interested in hosting a paper bead making party at your home, get in touch. All workshop attendees and hosts will get an Easy Beady tool to keep. Prices and details for workshops can be found here.