Hey friends! This whole last week was spent on this DIY challenge, but it was worth the effort! For a while, I have been really fascinated by beautiful paper bead jewelry from 31 Bits, a non-profit organization that helps women in Uganda make a living. Definitely take a second to check them out! Unfortunately they are a little on the spendy side, so I made it my mission to figure out how to make them myself.
After researching a few methods online, I decided to try making it with wrapping paper, skewers, nail polish, and glue. You would think making paper beads would be easy, but it’s actually a lot harder than it looks. I have a whole new respect for these bead makers now!
First I played around with cutting different lengths and thicknesses until I got the bead how I wanted it. I cut about 30 strips of the flowery white wrapping paper with a 1″ base and about a foot length. I measured points 1″ at the top that were offset 1/2 an inch from the points at the bottom and then drew a straight line in between, making a bunch of skinny triangles. For the blue beads, I wanted them smaller but more round, so I measured them 1/2 an inch across and a foot and a half long. At this point I realized that the huge beads on some 31 bits necklaces must be about a mile long in length to be so thick!
So. Many. Strips.
After cutting everything, I rolled the end around the skewer. While it seems simple, it was actually kind of hard to wrap the paper tight enough around the skewer AND make sure the paper was always in the middle instead of veering off to the side as I rolled.
I rolled several beads on one skewer stick and coated them all with nail polish. However, when I took them off the next day, some of the beads shifted so they were off center and I had to re-coat them again. I quickly learned that while nail polish would add a nice gloss, it wasn’t that great at holding the bead together. So I added glue periodically as I rolled and coated with mod podge, which worked a lot better.
Looks like a wand from Harry Potter, amiright?
After several days of rolling and gluing and drying, all that was left was stringing the beads together. I used some elastic string and glass beads to break it up a bit. At first I thought about combining the two colors, but I ended up thinking they looked better separate. I did add a white accent bead to the blue bracelet wrap (not because I ran out of blue beads or anything…). I love that this jewelry goes great with so many things – I even wore it for the first time to work yesterday!
Although it looks complicated, this craft was a blast to make! And you can make it out of anything, from scrapbook paper to newspaper to brown bags. If you have time this summer, give it a try and let me know how it goes! See you next week!