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Paper Beads – What’s It All About?

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paper beads

Paper beads are so simple to make 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.

Back in the 70s, I discovered this amazing craft and making paper beads gradually became one of favourite crafting activities.

Making paper beads has been an obsession of mine for decades, ever since I was taught the craft by a Canadian friend while living in Toronto. In more recent years, I started sharing my passion with others.

At the time I was learning how to use paper strips to create beautiful paper beads, I had no idea of the irony.

Me, an English girl abroad, being taught an old Victorian craft that I now find orginated in my own country.

I had never heard of it before I left England and so I am very grateful to my friend for teaching me something I have enjoyed so much for so long.

People were always asking me how I make my paper beads.

And as I have a background in running workshops, I love nothing better than sharing my passion with groups eager to learn.

One workshop was group of artists who 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.

Paper bead making intrigues a lot of people who don’t realise my bracelets are made of paper.

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 beads, they are always shocked. The jewellery I make is created using a variety of techniques and materials.

paper beads

To make paper beads, I use anything from plain paper to my own art work, junk mail, magazine pages and paper bags.

There is practically nothing in the paper line that I won’t consider for making my beads.

My favourite thing is to go into my local card shop to buy someone a birthday card and then, use the bag to make a bracelet.

I’m not mean – I just love making something pretty out of junk we usually screw up and throw away. I love making it 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.

paper beads
paper beads

When I did the workshop with the artists, none of them had done paper bead making before.

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 looked while being durable enough to wear. The workshop that followed was fun and productive.

I then held a second  one for them later in the month so they could complete their projects.

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!

paper beads
Paper bead bracelets made by the women in my workshop after only two sessions.
paper beads
Paper bead workshop

When I am able to do them in person, I keep my paper bead making workshops to 10 people or less.

Then I can give plenty of one to 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, they are making their own paper beads within the hour.

And then they can’t wait to go off and experiment with their own designs.

There is an infinite variety of designs and shapes you can make in paper beads. The limit is really just your own imagination.

The key  to successful paper beads making is having the right tool.

When I first began making my own very crude tools to make paper beads, I used split bamboo.

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 worked hard to create the perfect paper beading tool to make the process enjoyable instead of frustrating.

I was no stranger to making my own tools and had used wood to create handles for various tools since I was quite young.

I used my paper bead tools for many years, often making them for other people and then selling them to my workshop students.

But once the internet arrived and I became familar with online selling, the world really opened up to me. I began selling my tools online.

Then I branched out into downloadable paper bead strip templates to make life easier for crafters who hated all the measuring and drawing lines.

My bead tools have been through many changes of handles in the last twenty plus years and I have recently come back to one of my original handles which has a gentle curve.

My students tell me they prefer the chunkier, curved handle, particularly older people who have conditions that affect their hands, such as arthritis.

More recently, I have added a paper bead strip stencil to my range of paper bead supplies.

DIY earrings
paper bead techniques

All of my products can be found by clicking here to reach my Etsy shop.

See more on how to use my paper bead strip stencils by following this link.

There a several videos on my YouTube channel that show how to make paper beads.

If you visit my channel Rainbow Lane, you can scroll through my videos and find them. You can buy my tools, templates and stencils by visiting my Etsy shop.

And you will soon be making your own paper bead jewelry with ease.

If you want to try a new hobby that is fun, creative and reasonable inexpensive, paper bead making could be for you.

Compared to many other hobbies, paper bead making can be extremely inexpensive if you use junk mail and scrap paper – so what are you waiting for – jump right in!