I have a confession to make: I used to be a bead snob. In the past whenever I’d hear someone say “paper beads” my mind immediately conjured up images of either children making them as a craft project, or the charitable organization that helps African women empower themselves by making and selling paper beads. I never took them seriously as a bead and jewelry maker. Total snob.
However, (you knew there would be a “however” here now didn’t you?) I have seen more and more examples on the Internet of absolutely beautiful and interesting paper beads, and more and more women (not kids, not teens, but adult women) wearing them. Of course I had to learn how to make them, and being a perfectionist that meant learning to make them the high-quality way. I then went on an Internet tutorial binge for days, and have come away with a combination of techniques and materials that *I* think make the absolute best beads — high quality paper, glue and durable glossy-finish medium. By the time they’re finished they are so smooth and glossy you can hardly tell they’re made of paper:
While I cannot say that it’s rocket science, paper bead making, done the correct way for beauty and durability, is an acquired skill. I prefer the look of the smaller beads and the ones pictured here are only 1/2-inch wide, which takes a sharp eye, good measuring and cutting skills, a steady hand, strong fingers and wrists, and most of all it takes patience. I give my beads not just one, but three to four coats of protective finish, and even coat the inner core to combat damage from humidity and wear. Some I’ve even given seed-bead “end caps” for beauty, extra durability, and to make the hole smaller.
Here are some Red, White and Blue beads I made for Independence Day (before glazing):
So, I will now admit that I’m a total convert, I’m having a blast, and am happy to say that I’m no longer a bead snob. Alas, now I will have to begin parting with some of my tiny beauties through both bead-supply selling on Etsy and jewelry making, mostly so I can make money to buy more paper.