I cannot be trusted with expensive jewelry. I will inevitably lose it (one diamond earring from a gifted set fell right out of my ear), break it (my grandmother’s opal ring), or simply leave it in my jewelry box to collect dust. I’m hopelessly clumsy and a ring with a jutting diamond would likely end up scratching my eye, in what would be my third eye-scratching, ER-needing accident. In all honesty, and I realize this might be hard to believe, I detest diamonds and other precious stones. I just can’t understand spending that much money for something so inconsequential, and even more importantly, something which fuels conflict in parts of Africa. When did diamonds become an essential part of engagement? I suspect De Beers had something to do with it.
Despite my distrust for precious stones, I do think jewelry can be a wonderful expression of personality and style, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Hand-made jewelry is all the more exciting for how it demonstrates individual creativity. I’ve seen paper beads in several places and want to give them a try. Since they use any medium-weight paper (the very thin kind used for things like coupons won’t work), they are a great way to recycle all the junk mail we receive on a daily basis. You can also use plain brown paper, such as from lunch bags, if you want a bead that looks like wood. You can then draw on the bead with markers. Try drawing squiggles (the technical term, hehe) all over a piece of paper with different color pens before rolling the bead for an interesting look.
The only essentials are paper, scissors or a paper cutter, glue (Elmers works fine), a long needle or a thicker piece of metal for rolling up the beads (I’ve seen a straightened out clothes hanger recommended in several places), and a bit of thin wire for stringing the beads. Straw coffee-stirrers, from a nearby fast-food restaurant would also work to roll up the beads. You can use varnish or spray acrylic to make the beads hard and shiny after rolling. Clear nail polish might also work, but that would be more time intensive. A notched, cardboard box will work as a kind of drying rack while painting or varnishing your beads.
Here are two different methods for making paper beads:
Recycled Newspaper Beads
These are simple and really enjoyable. I loved making all the junk mail disappear. The newspaper beads are a bit more involved but definitely unique!