The Book of Books by Mahe Zehra Husein [Free tutorial and printable]

I made a paper-bead tutorial a year ago during a sleepless season. It was so popular, I couldn’t believe it. I ran a class at my studio and also gave a talk and workshop at the local women’s group about it. And then to my total surprise, I was approached by the wonderful Mahe Zehra Husein of and asked if I’d put together an upcycled project for her publication The Book of Books. Obviously, I was ridiculously excited to be included and got to work straight away, adapting the paper beaded bracelet by making it from pages from a book. It’s one of my quickest but favourite makes to date. And oh so stylish. My primary photograph was even featured on the front page! There I am in the bottom left hand corner!paper bead necklace



I’ve included the tutorial again below, with the free printable patterns. But it’s definitely worth popping over to see what Mahe is up to at the moment, too!


  • 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.



DSC02316I 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.



DSC023193.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.



DSC023224. 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!)

DSC023235. 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.


If you’re here from Handmade Monday over at Lucy Blossom Crafts, HELLO THERE! Do drop me a lime to say hi! (And if you’d be interested in doing a guest blogging exchange with me, email

MoonMunkie is published in the Book of Books

A tutorial I wrote on how to make a rolled paper-bead bracelet was picked up to be adapted for publishing! It’s in an ebook called The Book of Books by Mahe Zehra Hussein. And my photo made it to the front cover! I’m so excited. You could have a look at it here if you wanted to. I took the original tutorial and adapted it to make a really pretty little necklace from upcycled pages of a vintage book.

There is a bracelet in the same design available to purchase now in my online whimsical makery emporium.  The paper pearls are hand rolled and sealed and then alternated with multicoloured glass seed beads on a stretchy but strong beading thread.  It’s a really sweet little bracelet that would make a lovely treat for a special friend, or just a a pick-me-up for yourself. It looks great on and goes with everything. It’s a lovely gift for a friend for Christmas or birthday or just a little treat for you. Go ahead, you know you want to!



traveller journal


Made from a lovely soft piece of leather I found for 20p in a recycle shop, lined with quilting fabric and fastened with a leather thong. This is my prototype re-fillable journal. I plan to make many! And then to design beautiful notebooks, diaries, calendars and pages to fill them. I’m happy with:

  • the colour scheme
  • the fold-over function to protect the page edge
  • the macrame knotted accents

I’m unhappy with:

  • the stability of the lining – it will need additional stitching
  • the thickness of the thongs which close the journal – it’s too fiddly
  • the corners of the leather – need to be rounded to look more “finished”
  • the length of the second inner thong  – it needs to be wider in order to hole a second signature

Additionally I’d like to add some or all of the following features:

  • inner pen or brush holder
  • inner pocket
  • book mark
  • spine adornments – charms or some such

Let me know what you think!

Snow table

Snow. My least favourite of all the precipitations. My immediate response is to go back to bed when it’s white outside. However, today was different for two reasons. Firstly, Moon Munkie had not played in the snow before. And secondly, it was a perfect opportunity to test out the sensory table we began yesterday.

Needless to say, after a wary start Moon Munkie adored running around it the snow. For about 10 minutes. Until her little hands were too cold and then she wanted in. So in we came, and brought with us a bucketful of snow to play with. Best. Snow. Ever. So much fun, without the chilblains and wet socks.

Stage One: Complete.

Just 467 stages left to go! I couldn’t resist getting started. The main function of our sensory table is to hold a tub in which to do messy play. And I really wanted to try out my new power tool (again, courtesy of Granddad Munkie, thank you!). It was a bit scary, because the saw goes faster than I can think. Mr Munkie suggested I should pre-dial 999 on my mobile, so I could push the green ‘call’ button with my nose should I accidentally cut off my fingers… 

For a first go, I’m quite pleased.  And Moon Munkie is loving it already. Next I need to figure out how to make a removable light box. Suggestions in the comments below please!

Coffee Table

My bargain ebay coffee table has arrived! Need to live with it for a few days before the upcycling process begins. (Ooohh I get to use my new jigsaw!) I want to turn it into a sensory table. With a light box. And a paper-roll holder. And a blackboard. And a magnetic sheet. And an acrylic mirror. And a doo-dah for holding pens and scissors. And a series of pockets for papers and craft materials. And… You can see why I need to wait for a few days before I begin. Need to let the ideas settle and consolidate into a sensible, manageable  plan before I let loose with the power tools! Watch this space!

Play kitchen

Last Christmas I fell in love with this toy kitchen. I ummed and ahhhed about getting it for my Munkie, but it was £60 which felt  too extravagant for a 1 year old. Also, it’s less than half a metre tall, meaning that by the time she’s 5 or 6 it will be too little to play with properly. But the image of the pretty blue oven with the red gingham oven gloves continued to creep into my daydreams until I couldn’t resist any longer: I either needed to buy the oven or create a substitute.  

Searching the internet for tutorials, I found no shortage of build your own toy kitchen instructions. But none really matched my rookie woodworking skill level. Then suddenly it came to me. Upcycling. My favourite way to make. It’s cheap and sustainable and gives you a warm glow when you’re done.  A quick google revealed all manner of possibilities, from an entertainment centre (too big), to a stool  (too small),  to a bedside cabinet (just right).  Seriously, there are a lot of talented Mummies and Daddies out there in Internet Land.  Mr Munkie selflessly donated his bedside cabinet to the cause and we were all set to go.

Except I had no tools. Or experience. Or any ideas of how to begin. So a few months of heavy pondering were in order. In the meantime Granddad Munkie had blessed me with a powerdrill as a birthday gift. Armed with this and girlie thoughts of pretty pastel kitchens I headed off to B&Q for a sheet of MDF.  (Have I mentioned before how much I like the people in this place?  I’m a novice DIYer. I have grand ideas and no abilities. They never fail to support me whilst gently suggesting more reasonable ways to achieve the effect I’m looking for.)

A woodworking friend cut the straight edges on his table saw. And he used a router to inset a piece of perspex in the over door. I sprayed with aerosol paint. I attached all the bits together with little white plastic doo-dahs which I now know are referred to as “modesty blocks”. I went to town with the hot glue gun. And whipped up some accessories from the red gingham I loved so much. A few felt cupcakes later and my Moon Munkie was overjoyed to receive Mama Munkie’s version of the Honeybake on her 2nd birthday. Seriously fun to make and seriously fun to play with. I find myself “tidying” it while she’s sleeping.

Upcycled Bureau

My granny had a bureau. It was a great solid piece of furniture with the requiste pull-down desk at the front. And inside, a world of cubby-holes, drawers and hiding places for childhood secrets. Through the years that bureau was a post-office; a babychange table; a shop; the place I did homework and revised for examinations; and for one glorious summer it was the headquarters of the imaginary cleaning business that my brother, cousin and I ran.  For that summer, we were Reckitt and Coleman. We had the headed paper to prove it. (A small insight into the Munkie pysche here: my imaginary childhood company sold cleaning products. Not magic wands, princess dresses or fairy cakes. Go figure.)

Needless to say, the allures of a bureau have long been calling me. And the wonderful people at Freecycle always come up with the goods. I collected a fabulous old bureau from a family who had had it for a while but no longer had the space. The gentleman of the house told a lovely story of falling asleep as a child whilst his father worked at the desk, and hearing the characteristic jangle of the hinges as the desk folded up. It had since been used as a toy box for his own kids and was not the bureau it once had been.Once my Moon Munkie was done using it as a climbing-frame-cum-hiding-place it was time to begin the work.

Never having done a project like this, I took it really slowly. It took the whole summer, first dismantling, then sanding, undercoating and 3 coats of Overtly Olive later, it looked like new. Inside I went for a girly combination of raspberry pink wood with green polka dot paper backing. (Thanks to the kind people of B&Q Bury St Edmunds who understood my plight and inisted I cut a sample of wallpaper long enough to finish the project rather than buy a whole roll.)

I’m still not entirely happy with it. I don’t like the uneven way the paint has worn. It’s beginning to look more shabby than chic. Additionally, I wish I’d chosen a softer, more relaxing shade of pink. But it’s a corner of my own to read bible, study, plan lessons, write letters and drink coffee. A rose scented soap from my (incredibley talented) friend Ruth sits in one of the cubby holes and wafts me to a summer place each time I open the desk. It’s a calming place to be and it’s reassuring to know that if the urge ever grabs me , I can return to my roots in the glamourous world of cleaning product sales.

Upcycled baby sleeping bag


Before (Daddy’s shirt)…


… After (Moon Munkie’s sleeping bag!)

My favourite brand of baby sleeping bag can run to more than £30 – which is a little on the steep side, although they are very cute. During the summer weather my little one has been in need of a lighter-weight sleep bag. Having already bought 1, I was reluctant to shell out again. I thought I might make something similar. And then my husband was throwing away a lovely cotton shirt and hey presto! an idea was born. I took off the sleeves, put a dart into the placket to reduce the collar size and then stitched pretty blue bias tape around the neckline and sleeves. It looked good but still needed something to finish it off. So I put on 2 accent ribbons and a little tag (just because I learned how this weekend!) Lovely.