Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kelsey: How-to Friday! How to make a paper necklace.

Oops, Friday came late this week. I blame the fact that power has only been on for 20 hours total all week long. Stupid power.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that Uganda is basically famous for its paper beads. I am not sure if you are aware. Its famous for elephants, waterfalls, and paper beads. You can find beautiful paper bead necklaces in every craft shop and they are one of the most reasonably priced items coming out of Uganda. I know many women who are supporting their families by beading. If you are interested in buying paper bead necklaces 31 Bits is one of my favorite organizations marketing the jewelry to the states. Their designs are gorgeous. (Or you could just message me and I will send you one!)

Paper beads made in Uganda!

My mom taught me how to make these when I was a kid. Ours were not anywhere near this cool. But I used to love rolling beads. And now you can too. 
These are the supplies you need:

Scissors, pen, ruler, glass seed beads, varnish (or mod podge), clasp, thread or fishing wire, a needle, glue, and thick paper.
The paper used in Uganda is all recycled. I am using an old calendar. You can use any thick paper. Card stock is too thick and magazines are too thin. Something in between like a poster (not poster board) or scrapbook paper would work. 

And the calendar is eco friendly!
I seriously do not understand this ruler.
 Use the ruler to make marks about a centimeter and a half or so apart. This will determine how wide your bead is.

So evenly spaced.
Then you will want to do the same thing on the other side of the page but making the marks directly in between the marks you just made. 

Look at Deno's long skinny fingers. He is like a spider.
The goal is to end up with perfect long skinny triangles.

Like this
Ok this whole process is like a million times easier if you have a paper cutter. Just cut a bunch of even triangles. The only thing you have to worry about is making them the same size. The more perfect your triangle is the more even and round your bead will be.

My hands look weird close up.
Take your needle and start wrapping your triangle around from the base. Do not use any glue yet! I think a common mistake is putting glue at the base. Don't do that. DON'T!

Rolling rolling rolling
Keep rolling. Make sure it is even on each side. No wonky bead rolling.

Dorcus is my lovely assistant
Once you get an inch from the end put just the tiniest dab of glue. Keep rolling and hold till the glue dries. You seriously need the smallest amount of glue, it will hold.

And now you have a bead! Almost.

Gladys... not a natural born bead roller
This is the most important step. Enlist lots of helpers.

Gladys may have been fired from bead rolling.
Then when those helpers lose interest, enlist more. Otherwise you will be doing this ALL DAY.

Use your fishing line to thread the beads.

This is not the string you will use for your necklace. This is for dipping.

An ice cream container filled with varnish, yum.
The varnish I use is wood varnish. If you are doing this project with kids you can substitute mod podge. Soak the beads in the varnish so they are thoroughly coated.

Let the varnish drip drip drip.

Then hang in a tree to dry overnight. The beads will take three days to finish. You repeat the dipping and drying process three times total. Each time letting the beads dry overnight. The coats of varnish take the beads from rolled up paper to beautiful beads.

Final necklace pictures still to come. Ooh anticipation!

Until then I will leave you with this picture of paper bead necklaces in baskets. So pretty they look good enough to eat. 


  1. ok, Kels!!! I LOVE 31 bits! There is a necklace I want from them SO SO SO badly! It actually made it onto one of my previous lists!
    You can send me one of those anytime : )


  2. Where are these baskets of paper beads located? We should go there when I come : )


  3. Oh we could totally make that necklace. I'll do the beads if you do the fabric.

    - Kels

  4. Friends--do you know of any Ugandan organization making Christmas ornaments? Also, does this 31 bits place organize itself like the apparent project--or is there any such place that does in Uganda? Where I can sell a box of things?

  5. Kels-sounds like a deal! You start on those bright red beads and I'll bring some kickass fabric!!

    Rach-I don't think they do the jewelry party would be awesome if they did though--I LOVE their stuff!


  6. Rachel, scratch my last comment. I am a BIG FAT LIAR. Here's the link to their house parties page : )


  7. Does anyone else feel like the man in the calendar has very, very high ceilings?