Whenever I venture into one of the local craft stores, I try to take a detour of the scrapbooking section to look at all the papers. Why would a beader ever care about pretty paper? What can you do with it? Here are a few ideas:
1. Use decorative paper as backgrounds for photographing your jewelry. Just be careful that the paper isn't too dark or distracting. You want the focus to be on your design!
2. Use patterned paper as color inspiration. Just like fabric, patterned paper can open up ideas for color combinations that you may not have thought about on your own. My "Ms. Mod" necklace in Stringing Fall 2007 featured a combination of light pink, dark pink, mint green, white, and dark brown that I probably never would have considered on my own.
3. Create beads out of paper. Paper beads are often linked with children, but it can be more sophisticated depending upon the types of paper you choose. Think handmade paper or fancy wrapping paper. This is a great way to recycle! You can find instructions and diagrams for "Paper Beads Necklace" by Jane Krecic in Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays.
4. Add paper as an embellishment. Designer Candie Cooper added a paper image of a bird to a purchased pendant in her "Migration" necklace in the fall issue of Stringing. There's also a ribbon bead project from the new book Fabulous Fabric Beads in this issue that might give you ideas about paper bead variations.
5. Use paper as a background for a layered charm for pendant the way Melinda Barta does in Custom Cool Jewelry. Scrapbook paper works well, but don't limit yourself to that. Other possibilities include playing cards, postage stamps, stickers, decorative notecards, and handmade papers that you've stamped or decorated yourself. My first resin pendant used a paper placemat!
6. Add beads to notecards or journals. If you've ever browsed a greeting card shop, you know that cards embellished with bits of wire, beads, and ribbon are quite popular. They are also quite expensive! It can be cheaper–and much more rewarding–to make your own. If you're not confident making the whole card from scratch, consider adding a few beads to a plain purchased card.
If you sketch your designs, it might be fun to bead the cover of your sketchbook. You could also put photos of your jewelry in a binder that has a bead embellished cover. While it's nice to show off your jewelry in person, it's not always practical to tote it all with you.
And one more idea . . .
Create a funnel with a piece of paper and use it to move beads from the table back into their proper containers. Yes, this isn't a very creative use of paper, but it beats having to pick up beads one by one! I do try to place my beads properly in dishes instead of spilling them onto the table, but sometimes I can't wait to start beading. (I bet you can't relate to that feeling at all, can you?)
Anyone else have creative combinations of paper and beads? Share your ideas on the website.
Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.