making a living as an artist

Making a living as an artist – if you are a ‘starving artist’, those words may make you smile.

Having spoken to a few working artists lately, I realise there is a huge difference between making a living as an artist and making money from your art now and then.

In my next few posts, I will be showing you the work of artists who are making money out of their art and who are working towards the ideal of making a living as an artist.

There is a huge difference between making a living as an artist and making money from your art. Click To Tweet

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Paper bead cuffs are my way of using my own art to create pieces of jewellery.

To create the paper bead cuffs, I do an abstract painting in acrylics on a sheet of paper slightly bigger than A4 (US letter size roughly).

The paper I use is usually quite thick and sturdy to create chunkier beads.

To find out more about making paper beads and the tool I use, click here to see a previous post that explains the process.

And to watch a video showing how I made a similar cuff bracelet click here.

To create my paper bead cuffs, I do an abstract painting in acrylics on a sheet of paper slightly bigger than A4 (US letter size roughly). Click To Tweet Continue reading

Make beautiful ‘Moon Glow’ alcohol ink pendants using kitchen tin foil.

Alcohol ink pendants are my latest arty happening!

After seeing someone online doing crafty things with ordinary tin foil, I thought it would be fun to try and make some jewellery using that technique.

My previous post was also about using alcohol inks – you can find it by clicking here.

I have been making bottle cap necklaces for years and so I was inspired to use the bottle caps I have in my stash of resources to create some alcohol ink pendants.

Alcohol ink pendants – so easy to make and sell at craft fairs. Click To Tweet

To help you create your own alcohol ink pendants, I have made a YouTube video.

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Alcohol Inks – My Latest Happy Discovery

alcohol inks

Alcohol inks – oh my goodness – you know when something really sets you on fire and you don’t want to sleep?

Well this is it for me! It’s all Mandy Shedden’s fault – since I went to visit her fantastic little craft supplies store in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, I have not been the same.

The store, Keep On Crafting was an absolute Aladdin’s cave of art and craft goodies. I seriously didn’t know which way to turn. Sadly it has closed now but the website is thriving. Do have a look.

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Saucer Beads

Saucer beads can be quite tricky to master when you first get into making paper beads.

I tried all sorts of ways but then I found the best way to make saucer beads of all different sizes is to use the layering process.This works best of all for me.

To make the necklace you see above, I used an old 12 x 12 inch sheet of scrapbooking paper I had laying around. I cut it into quarter inch tapered strips and then layered them to get a variety of shapes and sizes.

Easy Beady paper bead tool.
Quarter inch paper bead strips
Saucer beads made from quarter inch strips drying.

Saucer beads of varying sizes can add shape and design to a necklace.

I designed this necklace on paper before I even made the beads, so I knew what shape the necklace would be. Using the saucer beads gives the necklace a focal point.

Having one larger one in the centre, followed by two smaller ones on either side and then two even smaller ones breaks up the line of the necklace.

Saucer beads are much easier to make if you have the Easy Beady paper bead tool.

One of the reasons I designed and made the Easy Beady paper bead tool was because I struggled to make paper beads that were of a consistent high quality.

The first very basic implements I made to roll beads, back in the mists of time, were from bamboo skewers, but they often dragged the middle of the beads out when I tried to pull them off the stick.

Large beads made with very narrow strips were very difficult to master using a bamboo roller and I experimented over the years with lots of different ideas using a stainless steel shaft with various wooden, plastic and paper handles.

But the only part that mattered the most was the stainless still shaft which made my paper bead making so much easier.

Saucer beads, while still fairly tricky, are much easier with a bead tool. My tools is available to buy on Esty. You can find them by clicking here.

Saucer beads are much easier to make with the Easy Beady paper bead tool. Click To Tweet

The paper bead tool comes in two sizes – the 5mm and the 3mm.

The 3mm Easy Beady gives a 3mm threading hole for using with finer stringing materials.

You can go straight to the Etsy listing by clicking here.

The 5mm tool gives you a 5mm threading hole through your beads which is ideal for making Pandora style paper beads (also known as European style beads) which usually get threaded onto heavier weight stringing materials such as leather, or snake chain bracelets.

You can find the 5mm paper bead tool by clicking here.

With this  paper bead tool and some practice, you will be making brilliant saucer beads to make gorgeous jewellery to wear or give as gifts. 

If you have any questions about saucer beads or any aspects of paper bead making, please contact me via the contact form.

I do hold paper bead workshops in Suffolk where I cover everything from the very basics for beginners to more advanced techniques such as layering for making saucer beads.

If you would prefer to have a go at making saucer beads on your own or live too far away to attend a workshop – just order the paper bead tool or any other of my paper bead supplies by following the links above.


Decoupage picture frames (or mirrors) are really easy to make.

I made the one you see to the right here by using an old comic from a batch I bought from an auction house (above).

Decoupage picture frame

To ask questions about this project click here and fill in the form.

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Paper pendants made from discarded cereal box cardboard are super easy to make!

Add your own abstract artwork – as I have done with the ones pictured above – and you have exciting, bold and beautiful one-off pieces of jewellery to wear, sell sort give away as presents.

These paper pendants were all made by me, using a discarded cereal box to create the jewellery form that I mounted my artwork on.

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fun with art

Having fun with art is not just for children!

Fun with art – my three favourite words! As adults, we are easily capable of getting a huge amount of fun out of art and craft – if we allow ourselves. Somehow, somewhere along the road of growing up, we stop ‘doing art’ because we can’t do it ‘properly’. As children, until we reach a certain age, we do not care whether we are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at art. If you watch children at play, having fun with art comes naturally. It was through my creative  work with children that I began to think about art and craft in a different way. Children simply create and often forget about their ‘art’ once the crayons and paints are put away; their joy is in the doing.

As children, until we reach a certain age, we do not care whether we are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at art. Click To Tweet

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Why did I make paper bead tools?

Making paper beads from junk  is one of my favourite crafts. I have always loved transforming mundane pieces of paper into beautiful jewellery.

I also love creating my own artwork to use. But my enjoyment was spoilt by not being able to roll the paper bead strips very easily.

I wanted something that gripped the paper well enough to get the bead started easily.

I also wanted something that would allow me to slide the finished bead off quickly, smoothly and without pulling the middle out of it.

There have been many bead rollers for sale for many years but they were made from bamboo that has been split into two and then bound with paper to make a handle.

They were ok and I made quite a few of my own over the years. The problem that I found was the bamboo could sometimes snag the paper making beads hard to slide off.

So many years ago, I created my own tools.

Learn to Make Gorgeous Paper Beads In Minutes!

Once you have the tool and have practiced on a few strips of paper, making beautiful beads is really easy.

Watch my easy to follow tutorial over on YouTube by clicking the link below.

With the paper bead tool, you will never get mad at junk mail again!

Instead, you will be saying thank you for all the wonderful free paper you are getting.

And think of the thrill when you make a really beautiful bracelet out of something that used to annoy you! Make unique presents that have cost you next to nothing.

Or create your own art work and make some really colourful beads that are truly unique and cannot be copied.

The possibilities for creating paper beads of all different shapes and sizes is endless with the paper bead tool.

I really enjoy colouring designs on plain paper and then making beads from it. If you add several coats of glaze, they look so amazing, no one guesses they are made from paper.

After experimenting with lots of different materials for many years, I came up with a paper bead tool that I absolutely loved using.

The design was nice and simple and very easy to use. It rolled nice tight beads that were easy to slide off and I was happy with that.

I eventually made the tools in two sizes, 3mm and 5mm.

The 3mm size allows you to make beads with a smaller core for threading on finer stringing material up to almost 3mm thick.

The 5mm size allows you to make beads with a larger core for threading on thicker stringing materials such as leather or Pandora style bracelets.

After the paper bead tool issue was conquered, I set about making myself templates to use over and over again so I didn’t have to measure every time.

For many years I used my drawn out templates with carbon paper because I had no printer or computer in those days.

Eventually, I refined my templates to sell to other people that I was teaching in craft groups.

In recent times, I extended that further to create downloadable templates for sale online that people can print off and stick onto their craft paper with removable glue tape while they cut with a craft knife.

And then I designed a set that can be used with electronic cutters such as Silhouette Cameo.

For easy cutting of paper bead strips without all the hassle of measuring and drawing lines, I have designed some templates you can download from my etsy shop

They are very easy to use. Click here to find out how you can use my templates to cut quick, easy strips and then use the template paper to make more beads so there is no waste! You can also use the templates in image editing software such as Photoshop to overlay onto printable  designs.

Strips cut by printing the template lines onto white paper, sticking it to the chosen bead paper with removable adhesive tape and cutting through both. You get two sets of strips – 1)Your chosen paper 2)The plain white strips to roll and paint.

Easy ways to cut paper bead strips.

The 1 inch digital template cut lines printed onto a design for easy cutting.

There are two ways to use the downloadable templates.

You can print the template, fix it to your chosen bead paper with removable adhesive tape and cut your strips along the lines with ruler and craft knife.

The picture to the left shows strips cut with that method. As you can see, this gives you the strips cut in your chosen paper and the left-over template strips. You can hand colour those with Sharpies and make more beads. No waste!

Or you can overlay the png file onto an image on screen (see the blue design above), print it and cut along the printed lines with ruler and craft knife or a guillotine. Visit my etsy shop today to get your downloadable templates.

Please note – we have now changed the handle design of the Easy Beady Paper Bead Tool back to the original one I used when we first began making paper bead tools for my students to buy.

The bead tool demonstrated in the video is the one that we produced to sell online to be lighter weight and easier for posting all over the world.

There is an updated video here showing the new tools in action.

The original handle we used was bigger and heavier and pushed up postage costs. However, my workshop students who have tried both handle styles over the years preferred the heavier, more curvy handle on the 5mm tool and most people said they found the grip better on the curvier 3mm tool handle.

So we took the decision to sell the online paper bead tools with the old style handle.

Return to the original style handle.
The paper bead kit
The straight handle (no longer available)w

We have also released our Easy Beady paper bead strip stencil template for sale on Etsy.

paper bead techniques

You can see the stencil in the picture above. It can be found on etsy by clicking here.

At the moment, when you buy both the 3mm and the 5mm curvy handled bead tools together, we are giving you the paper bead strip stencil template free.

Click here to go to that offer.

We ship all over the world.

If you would like to start using a paper bead tool to make your crafting life easier, order my tools and template today – you’ll be glad you did!

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,  back in the 70s, I have been hooked. Paper bead making is one of my all-time favourite crafts.

Making paper beads has been an obsession of mine for decades but in more recent years, I started sharing my passion with others.

People are always asking me how I make my jewelry and as I have a background in running workshops, I love nothing better than sharing my passion with groups eager to learn.

One such 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 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 practically nothing in the paper line 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.

paper beads
The bracelet on the left is one of my paper bag bracelets.

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 was. 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

I keep my paper bead making workshops to 10 people or less so 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.

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 bead making is having the right tool.

When I first began making my own very crude tools to make paper beads, 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 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 and I began selling my tools online and 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 and I have recently come back to one of my original handles which has a gentle curve.

My students tell me they prefer that to the straight handle.

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

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

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 find that 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!