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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!