My Munkies have not been sleeping well the last few weeks. Which means Mama and Papa Munkie have also not been getting a lot of shut eye. This is the part of parenting that the books don’t mention. When there’s really nothing wrong but they just
won’t can’t nod off at night. Or they’re waking up through the night in need of something that neither they nor we can identify. The books also don’t mention how 4 years after having a baby you will be required to maintain a long and detailed conversation about climbing frames, their construction, engineering processes and locations. With a detailed SWOT analysis of the different types ranked according to height from ground, distance from our home and proximity to ice cream vans. All this before 7.30am whilst in the shower. #ShouldHaveGotADog.
But I digress…
Not much sleep in the Munkie household. Meaning that evenings have been spent slumped in a heap rather than engaging in Makery. However, as much as I love to watch TV (Nashville… who knew?!) my fingers get itchy if they’re not doing something. So this is where the rolled paper paper beads come in. It’s so soothing to cut a strip, roll it around a cocktail stick, add a dab of glue and watch your bead stash grow. I began with some vintage pages to make tiny pearl-size spheres. So pretty. I think I’m going to make myself a double strand.
There are records of Victorians in England having rolled long strips of paper to make beads which they then linked together to make bead curtains. It was popular around the turn of the century in the USA. And more recently the crafting of rolled paper beads has proven to give a sustainable income to women in Uganda.
You will need:
- Printed pattern x1 for a bracelet or more for a necklace, depending on length.
- PVA glue
- cocktail sticks or skewers
- shellac / varnish /Mod Podge (optional but recommended for longevity)
- beading thread or elastic
- seed beads (optional)
1. Print your pattern and cut out the skinny triangles.
2. Choose a triangle and start to roll it on to the cocktail stick, wide end first. DO NOT USE GLUE YET as it will stick your bead to the stick. (Ask me how I know!) Once you’ve done half an inch or so, you can add a spot of glue. It doesn’t matter too much if it oozes a little, because you can smooth it over the bead with your fingers. But don’t go wild.
I actually prefer to switch to roll with my thumb at this point – I seem to be able to keep the bead tighter this way. I turn the stick with my right hand and use my thumb to press the paper down. As you get towards the end of the strip add another little dot of glue to secure the tail.
3. Your bead is now complete. Poke the end of the cocktail stick into something soft to hold it upright while the glue finishes drying. Take up your next skinny triangle and a new cocktail stick and repeat from step 1 until you have sufficient beads.
4. Once all the beads are made and dried, cover them with a coat of lacquer or mod-podge or varnish. This is optional but it will mean that you can wear your bracelet out in the rain. The beads are made of paper, so they’re never going to survive a bath! But you can keep them looking smart for a long time by giving them a coating of something. You could also make them lovely and shiny, if that’s your thing. Me, I prefer a matte finish, so I used a good quality gel matte medium to coat mine. (Don’t use a cheap one or they’ll end up sticky for ever!)
5. Again, once the drying time is done, you’re ready to string them up. Use anything that takes your fancy. Beading thread, ribbon, elastic, leather thong, embroidery thread even dental floss (not dental tape – it breaks too easily- and probably better to choose the non-minty type!) will all work. I alternated my paper beads with tiny glass seed beads for a bit of extra pretty.
To finish off: if you’re using elastic then just tie a knot. You can see mine there on the left – it will slip under a bead and become invisible once I’ve finished. If you’re using a non-stretchy type of thread, then you’ll need to engineer yourself a clasp of some sort. An extra bead through a loop works well. Or a button and loop. Or just a pretty bow if it’s a ribbon. There are some other ideas for fastenings right here.