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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Paper beading...relax and recycle!

Recently I was thumbing through a library craft book when I came across a section on paper beading. Though I'd seen this before, it never caught my interest until now. Strips of paper cut into triangular shape, rolled up and sealed shut.
A bead. A paper bead. Oh, the ideas!

No doubt many have seen, or perhaps even made crafts from old newspapers, magazines and other paper items which would otherwise be tossed into a recycling bin. The craft of paper art has been around longer than many of us. I was instantly hooked!

One sheet of junk mail produces many beads!

My interest could have likely been further spurred by a recently acquired truck load, and I do mean load, of vinyl wallpaper. A local charity center received a donation of hundreds upon hundreds of rolls of heavily textured vinyl wallpaper. No one else seemed interested. I fell in love and instantly loaded as much as I could carry into the car. The following week, the center still had the same amount of paper. A few more rolls. The next week, you guessed it.

My husband has learned to expect just about anything will come through our front door in the name of recycling, reusing, repurposing and such, so this was no surprise. There is no sense in asking what I am going to do with newfound material, as I often won't know until the idea strikes. "I don't know, but it's going to be something!"

Paper quilling is a very similar craft, though the strips of paper required are often very thin, cut into rectangular shapes. The ideas and tools are very simple, and yet very old. These days one can easily find paper beading tools at craft stores or online. You could even make your own tool at home, they are easy to make. A quick trip to the hardware store for a small tension pin , also known as a roll pin or sellock or spring tension pin is in order. This is a small piece of metal with a groove cut all the way down the pin which will hold the paper as you begin rolling. A roll pin glued into the end of a wooden dowel will find you quickly on your way to making paper beads yourself. How simple! When finished with the rolling, simply glue the ends down and remove the bead from the pin.

Though a bead can be produced with just about any size roll pin, I prefer to use either a 1/8" or 1/16" post driven into a wooden dowel. A pair of scissors, a stack of paper or magazines and a bottle of glue will keep you busy for endless hours. A paper cutter would be splendid, though I must say, if not for the five dollar price tag at a yard sale almost fifteen years ago, I would likely not have one. Larger diameter pins make beads with larger bead holes. Consider smaller pins for lighter paper, and heavier pins for thicker materials. Note, it is helpful if your roll pin is a couple inches long, leaving room for the end of the pin to be inserted into a handle and still leave room for a nice wide bead. A wide pin allows you to vary the width, but if you choose a short pin, the bead width will be determined by available pin width.

As for material resources, the possibilities are limitless. Junk mail, brochures, magazines, fabric, even fine lightweight fabric can be used by ironing on fusible webbing. Scrapbook paper, origami paper, wallpaper and so forth. No need to purchase anything, as one magazine could keep you busy for quite some time. As of late I've been experimenting with various sized triangles for the beads, even leaving some in rectangular shape - which produces a tube bead as opposed to a bead with gently tapering ends. Glossy magazines such as National Geographic are filled with beautiful colored pages. Even maps and sheet music make wonderful beads!

Okay, so now your interest is piqued and you simply must have the instructions. Know this, it is very easy, and with a bit of experimenting, you will soon find the size and shape you love best. For magazine pages, I prefer a 1/8" roller and a 12" x 3" long strip of paper cut in half diagonally to taper the ends. Yes, this is a small bead.

Keep in mind that the thicker the paper, the thicker the bead will be. Cardstock paper is not the best, as it wants to unroll, so unless you spend a bit of time holding the bead together to dry, it is not the wisest choice in material. For vinyl wallpaper, I choose a 15" x 1 1/4" piece cut in half diagonally and again, with tapered ends.

To begin, simply slide the roll pin onto the wide end of the paper and secure it by rolling one or two times to close the end inside the roll you are now forming. Don't roll too loose, or too tight. Snug is the key. Once you've rolled the bead almost all the way up, apply a bit of adhesive or glue to the inside of the tail, roll and hold for a moment. When you feel the tail is held down well, slide the bead off the roll pin. It is truly that easy. Wasn't that fun? Now let's do it again. And again. And again...

You'll have to experiment with materials, sizes and adhesives. It seems we always have a shoebox full of different products, so it is a matter of trial and error. I'm perfectly content with standard school glue for basic paper beads.

This is a great, inexpensive craft for many ages, both young and old. Try glazing your completed beads, using paints, mixing with beads and pearls and so forth. There are so many ideas, and so little time. Get busy, and have fun! be continued, with more pictures and instructions coming soon!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A passion for bamboo

Several years ago I stumbled upon bamboo growing in Northeastern Oklahoma.
Once I put my hands around the gigantic canes of Phyllostachys Vivax, I was hooked.

An elderly gentleman known as 'Cotton' kindly allowed me and my brother; Keith to dig as much as we wanted. It turned out not to be such a generous offer considering we had to work very hard to get what little we did. Allow me to rephrase that, Keith worked very hard. Though bamboo has a somewhat shallow root system, many varieties often reaches great heights, and as such is digging is not a simple matter of grabbing a shovel.

Cotton's wife, whom we humorously referred to as 'Mrs. Cotton', explained that he was near death, with a medical order not to resuscitate him should otherwise require such services. He was ready to go when his body instructed. Knowing this made Keith and myself nervous, as Cotton was right in the middle of the bamboo with us, digging, swinging, chopping to help us get a few good roots. I'll never forget Mrs. Cotton making small fabric circles for what is known as a Yo-Yo quilt. What I wouldn't give to have that very quilt she was making that day.

We enjoyed a tour of Cotton's makeshift museum, toured his property and thanked them profusely. There is no doubt these people would have gladly entertained us further, even cooking dinner if only we would have accepted.

Years later, I returned to the property hoping to visit with Cotton and his wife once more, only to find the home empty. A second and third trip found the property unkempt, the bamboo untidy and left with dead canes in the grove. Most recently, in April of 2010, a neighbor informed us the couple passed away and the property was in bankruptcy. I seem to recall his wife being much younger than he was, so I can only imagine his passing left her life terribly empty.

The neighbor allowed us to dig more bamboo up on his side of the property, though the bamboo was actually from Cotton's side of the land. At the time we first transplanted, Cotton explained it was a twenty-five year old grove. Ours is now but five years old, but with good health and a sound mind intact, we may be able to continue the legacy of Cotton's bamboo grove.

Reaching out to touch someone...

With the birth of so many ways to keep in touch, one would think the world should be better connected. Instead, it seems we've introduced yet another thing to consume our thoughts and time.

Old friends for whom we once spent hours hand writing letters are now but the click of an occasional mouse button, a quick hello, the momentary passing of an adorable picture to let someone know how much we're thinking of them. But this hardly expresses things for me.

I do think of you often. Moreso than you might think. On a daily basis, more thoughts than I could possibly keep track of pass through my mind. I prefer not to think of it as an attention disorder, rather a life so full of moments that I don't want to miss a single one. The problem for me is lack of time in which to do it all.

When I am in the garden, I think of sending you flowers. The look on your face when you come home to find a giant bouquet of Iris on the porch. The surprise you might feel when a surprise box arrives in the mail, not knowing what might be inside.

I may seem careless, thoughtless and aloof of your life, but this is not so. A failure to act on my thoughts, perhaps. We all have busy lives, we all have many things to tend to. We've all had our moments of sadness, happiness, joyfulness, sorrow. And I've not been there for you. At least not in the physical sense.

Know that I do think of you often, and I do care.

Friday, April 23, 2010

...and so it begins.

The first sentence of my blog.

I'll leave it at that.