Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Paper Bead Mania

Currently I am obsessed by paper beads. I can't make just one. All I have to do is mark two edges of a sheet of paper off in 1/2 inch increments and make triangles. The triangles get rolled around cocktail skewers and dotted periodically with glue. I use Elmer's. Some people use glue sticks. In any case, it can be done while on the phone, reading Facebook, waiting for the water to boil.

I've marked them off in something called a watercolor pencil. When the pencil color gets wet, say, with glue, it smears nicely. It gives excellent soft stripes on a bead. On my fingers, it is less excellent. My triangles don't come out even. I have a feeling that even if I just made long rectangles, I'd manage to make mistakes.

Beads made of printer paper colored on the edge with watercolor pencils.
These stripes are addictive. I love seeing how each bead turns out. And  I'm using paper I would have thrown away. I drew on the backs of coupons I printed out and did not use. I drew on the back of a community flyer. This is politically correct time wasting, and I am using a box of toothpicks I bought many many years ago when it was only possible to buy 1000 toothpicks at a time. The box disintegrated.

In a video of a young woman making beads, we are warned to keep the strip centered on the toothpick. "If you do this," she opines, "your beads will come out perfect, every time." She obviously does not work with my handicaps.

There is a video by a tattooed young man who sneers at the thought of making beads one by one. He covers a cocktail skewer in foil, takes 6-inch wide pieces of newspaper, and begins rolling. First off, I'd like to say that his beads are obedient because they are afraid of him. In my hands, paper does not roll up obediently. It crumples, uncoils, lies flat and laughs. In the event that a sheet of paper agrees to be coiled around a skewer, it makes a flabby roll. I will make one bead at a time, thank you.

I'd far rather have a written tutorial with photos than a video. Too many videos show you the technique and babble without a script. Apparently going back and editing out pauses, repetitions and inaudible bits is considered cheating, even when the video is linked to a website that sells supplies.

Any paper can be used for beads. Glossy magazines  and catalogs don't come to my house. The ad inserts that come with the local paper are shiny and have pretty colors, but the paper is fairly flimsy. A single length produces a skimpy bead, if you use a single sheet. You can make a longer triangular strip by going across two pages for a fatter bead. I think I will make a batch of cylinder beads and then roll triangles around them-- just for sanity's sake.

Beads made from a newspaper insert.

Scrapbooking paper is conveniently sold in books of long skinny strips, so I can test lots of colors. It's thicker than printer paper and newsprint. My half-inch wide triangles produce a pleasingly plump bead.

Rolled paper beads awaiting coats of Mod Podge sealant.

Now that I have little bowls of finished beads, I will have to do something sensible with them. I could string them into necklaces, put them on eyepins to make dangles for earrings, string them on wire in a metal frame for pendants or bracelets.