Saturday, March 30, 2013

Paper Bead Tutorial

I told myself I wasn't going to do tutorials. Most of the stuff I do needs little or no explanation. I was wrong.
When I show people my paper beads they often ask how I made them. So ... paper beads my style.

 The inspiration :

These lovely papers I splurged on from Sundance .  They are sold as gift wrap, but I think of them as handmade art papers.  If you really want to feast your eyes on tons of beautiful papers take a look at Handmade Paper .  I do ok with a few dozen choices, but when I'm given hundreds or thousands of beautiful things to chose from, I just can't.  All those lovely papers could spark a lifetime's supply of paper projects.

Gather your materials.

  •   Bead making paper
  •   Cheap White Glue
  •   Cheap paint brushes
  •   A palette
  •   Scissors and/or paper cutting equipment
  •   Cotton swabs with plastic stems 
  •   Shallow boxes  1 1/2 - 2 inches in width
  •   Non-printed paper to protect your work surface
  •   Bamboo skewers
  •   Rubber Bands
  •  Polyurethane varnish
  •  Jars
Just about any paper can be used to make paper beads.  Card stock is a little too stiff and shiny papers like magazine pages get a bit difficult to handle in the gluing step.  Printer paper works great !   So does construction paper.  You can use just about any technique to decorate your paper beads.  Stamping, painting, glitter, stickers, wire wraping, beading on beads, do whatever makes you happy. I often keep a bunch of plain paper beads on hand, then cut tiny pieces of special paper to cover them. Pictures clipped from a magazine work well, too. I like the idea that close inspection of a bead will reveal a special image. Iconic faces make an interesting discovery.  Special bits of cloth can cover beads.   Go wild !

    Cutting the paper.

I will show you three easy shapes. These are pretty basic, but are enough for me. I usually add commerially made round beads for variety when I string my paper beads.  There are a lot more possibilities, so feel free to try something more adventurous.

The principle is simple.  The width of your paper strip equals the length of your bead.  The length of your paper strip, along with the thickness of your paper determines the thickness of your bead.  As a guide I usually cut printer paper lengthwise giving an 11 inch strip. Make a few practise beads before cutting up a ream of paper.

  1. A straight strip of paper makes a cylinder.
  2. Cut from each corner to the center of the opposite end making a long triangle. Your bead will be bigger in the middle and tapered on both ends.
  3. Cut from one corner to the diagonal corner. The bead will be narrow on one end and wider on the other.
Rolling beads.

Pour a blob of white glue onto your palette. Paint a thin coat of glue onto your strip of paper, leaving one end (about 1/2 inch) untouched and putting a bit of extra glue at the other end.

Starting with the not glued end roll the paper strip around the stem of a cotton swab. Press lightly on the end of the paper strip to help it stick.

Balance the cotton swab across the box so that the bead is not touching the box or another bead.
Leave beads to dry overnight. Wash your brush immediately with soap and water or just discard the brush.

 Next day, cut the stem of the cotton swab and remove your bead.

Oops, I almost forgot to explain about the boxes !  The whole point of the boxes is to keep the gluey beads from touching anything.  I simply cut the bottom off of cereal or cracker boxes to make these elegant tools, so start eating cereal and crackers right now. <grin>  You can also fold up boxes from any piece  of thin cardboard you happen to have around.

Finishing the bead.

Your bead is almost perfect, but I want things to last a long, long time.  If you painted your bead with acrylic paint  including all the surfaces, then it doesn't need finishing. Otherwise a quick coat of polyurethane will protect your bead from moisture and abrasion.

Last of the home made tools.  To hold your bead while you are painting or finishing it, wrap a rubber band around a bamboo skewer a little bit below the point. This will give your bead a place to rest while it dries.
Stick the skewers in a jar, like a bouquet of flowers  to keep your beads separated.

A bowl of new paper beads.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Page Paper Beads

I was being read to before I could sit up. I was "reading" (actually reciting while turning pages) by age three.  Books to me are almost sacred. They are treated with care, never torn or dog-eared.
So, when I saw books and book  pages used in crafts, I immediately wanted to use books, but I just couldn't mess up a book. Any book.  After long soul searching, (really !) I finally bought a big, old, book that was clearly past its useful life.   Just to be sure, and to honor the book one last time I read a good bit of it.  Now, I have hundreds of book pages to use any way I choose, plus a lot of interesting pictures, maps, and illustrations.

This old book was published in 1911 as a combination encyclopedia, dictionary, atlas, and guide for home schooling. It is nothing if not ambitious. It is also a remarkably thrifty item destined to be a family's perhaps only book. I just love the concept, if not the execution.

Here are some book page beads. I love to read the few words that show up on a bead and imagine the rest of the sentence.

Here is the necklace I made with them.  It also has dumotierite and brass beads.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paper Bead Necklace

With beads already made, stringing up a necklace is quick and fun. I made these for a friend.

I am working on a new batch of paper beads and I can hardly wait to share them with you.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bead Necklace

Just a quick post today. The large green beads are wood. they are strung on a black cord along with brass beads and black rubber Oh rings.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Ubiquitous Plarn Bags

Ok folks, this one is going to be long.  I saw plarn on the internet maybe 4 years ago. It intriqued me. Making something useful out of those nasty plastic bags you get at all the stores really appealed to me.  So I got to work cutting up my supply of bags and turning it into plarn.  I followed the instructions here .
Very soon I had made my first bag and was looking around for more bags to cut up.  I quickly realized that buying stuff to get bags wasn't going to work. I just don't have that kind of money !  I looked at buying bags wholesae, but that was going to be too expensive, too.

Things got rolling when  my mom took some bags to church with her.  Not only did she sell the bags, but the church ladies offered to bring her their excess shopping bags.  Soon, things were going so fast I had to crochet all day most days to keep up with the orders.  Next, the project took over my house. There is plarn all over the bedroom. There are plastic bags all over the laundry room, the kitchen and the living room. Mom was still hauling giant bags of bags home with her every Sunday and her house got filled, and her garage is filling. Be warned : this is a time and space consuming hobby.

We seem to have filled the demand at one church. Everbody that wants a bag has one. Several people bought them in bulk.  Looking for new ways to sell these bags, I checked out Etsy. Nope, there are already thousands of plarn bags out there. If I find a good marketing strategy I'll let you know.  In the meantime, here is a sample of the bags I have made:
These three are Kroger bags enhanced with less common bags.
The red and white color scheme is my best seller.  The left is made from all Target bags. The red in the right hand bag is from newspaper bags. 
Good old Dollar General supplies yellow bags with black printing. This is my super giant size.
Blue is a most popular color, and very hard to find here in Michigan. The bag on the left makes use of a few precious newspaper bags by stretching them out with white.

If anyone is interested, I can supply crocheting directions, but it is really very easy.  Using single crochet make a rectangle the size you want the bottom of your bag. Then crochet around the edges of your rectangle in continuous rows.  Walls will rise. You can then make your bag as tall as you like. the straps are 4 rows of any length you like and sewn on.

I have broken down and actually bought bags from Store Supply to get the colors I want.  Another way to get specific colors is to buy disposable plastic table cloths and cut them into strips. The downside on using the tablecloths is that you have lots and lots of ends to weave in. So tedious, but sometimes only the right color will do.

Saturday, March 2, 2013