6 Ways to Combine Beads with Paper

Sep 29, 2008

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.

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foxrose wrote
on Sep 29, 2008 1:15 PM

Thank you, Michelle, so much for your wonderful and inspiring newsletter, I really look forward to each issue.

I keep a small piece of white paper with my beading tray. You can use it for a number of things, like jotting down a bead count, or starting that dry glue-tip. But my main reason is threading the needle! The eyes (mine) are not what they used to be, and sometimes (ok, lots of times) I have trouble seeing the narrow opening of the needle's eye, even with a magnifying glas.  If I hold it against the white paper it seems to show up much better and I can usually get it threaded with only a few tries.  

Thanks for all the good hints!

on Sep 29, 2008 2:45 PM

Great tip!  I'll need to remember that one--I do seem to be having a lot of issues with threading needles lately.  Not only do they come unthreaded, but I usually drop them into the sofa cushions!  Ouch!

MartiH5 wrote
on Sep 29, 2008 3:19 PM

Let's take it a few step further!! For a slide show of what the very talented and creative members of Long Island Bead Society did with paper, click here:  www.longislandbeadsociety.com/fabb.htm

irenec44 wrote
on Sep 29, 2008 3:42 PM

Hi Michelle:

I have done some beadwork using scrapbook paper as a

background and framing it.  I did one called the Four Seasons.

If you would like to see it, let me know and I will be happy to post it once I find out how to do that.

I enjoy yur site immensely.


JanetB@74 wrote
on Sep 30, 2008 6:23 AM

What nicer way to give a beaded gift than to give it in a handmade  origami box made with pretty papers.  It adds another layer of gift to the gift.  Often people ooh and ahh over the box before they even get to the beaded item.


Aubrey_Bouck wrote
on Sep 30, 2008 10:21 AM

More with Origami Boxes! My sister in law made me a bunch of origami boxes out of magazine and calender pictures, in many different sizes. I keep them on my desk and (try to) organize my beads and wire with them. What's more is when I feel a creative slump, I just look at the pictures and patterns on the boxes for inspiration! I love them!

RitaJ@8 wrote
on Oct 1, 2008 12:29 AM

I am currently making beaded charms. I use an Accu-cut die to cut the boxes. You can see samples at http://artcharms.blogspot.com/

Rita Jackman

Gnome301 wrote
on Dec 6, 2008 2:57 PM
I have not received my dailey e-mail since Oct. 30th. What happened? gnome301@msn.com
Mzuribeads wrote
on Jul 6, 2009 11:08 AM
Hello, lovely blog! We just wanted to leave a small note for anyone who would like to see a range of quality paper beads and colourful recycled jewellery. Mzuribeads have been individually hand rolling beads from recycled paper to make unique beads and jewellery from the village of Ndejje in Uganda for over three years. I would like everyone interested in our art to visit our website, where you can locate a stockist near you or goto our online shop to buy our loose paper beads and paper bead jewellery. http://www.mzuribeads.com Thank you, Kirstie