Testing, testing

I just finished making myself a bracelet out of the paper beads I was talking about back here:

Test braceletI’m hoping to sell similar bracelets, but this one is intended as a test for the quality of my elastic cord and the glaze on the beads (plus I like it).  Let the record show that the daily wear test began on the 24th of August, 2013 😉


Paper Beads and Magazines

I’ve recently gotten interested in making rolled paper beads, and have (naturally) been watching lots of YouTube tutorials on the subject.  There are a lot of nice tutorials out there and some really good guides on decorating your beads before and after you roll them.  However, I am making my beads out of magazine pages, and I found that there weren’t really any good guides on what type of page makes pretty beads.  So I thought it might be nice to write up a mini tutorial on choosing paper for your paper beads.

I’m not planning on going over how to make paper beads, so if you’re not familiar with the process, you might want to look that up before continuing.  I’m fond of the tutorials by Beyond Bracelets and jennibellie.  Both videos cover how to make the beads in general and decorating them yourself.

Now, let’s say you’re not interested in decorating the beads yourself, but are making them from strips of magazine paper.  What should you look for?

Ideally, you’ll find a page that is entirely picture and get a strip looking something like this:

Paper strip colored the whole way

However, you’ll often find that magazines have a little white band at the top and bottom of the page, and between any photos on the page, resulting in a strip of paper more like this:

Paper strip with white bands(The circled areas are supposed to be white, I swear — my camera didn’t like the lighting I had.)  If you try to roll the bead with those white sections, they really aren’t long enough to make a white band on the bead, but are bright enough to make oddly white specks in the bead.  The solution is simple — color them in:

Colored in white sectionsI just use a marker.  All you really need to get is the edges, unless the white is at the very narrow tip of the paper, in which case you’d want to completely fill it in.  This was more fun back before I left my pack of 36 markers halfway across the country, but even without them I’ve had good luck with grey, brown, and black from an 8 marker set.  The main goal is to keep the bright white from being so noticible.

Now, some pages in a magazine will have text and a picture.  I find this works fine if the text is towards the wide end of your paper strip, as you get a colored bead with black and white speckled edges:

8-22-13 Paper Beads 4Text towards the narrow end of the strip, however, doesn’t come out looking nearly so good, as the bead appears predominantly white and there are often visible letters:

8-22-13 Paper Beads 5The final thing to consider is how many different colors there are on a page and how they’re distributed.  Initially, I was worried about pages that had only a few, large blocks of colorings, thinking they’d result in boring beads.  I found instead that they result in very interesting banded beads, which are usually quite consistent from bead to bead:

Bead from paper with just a few colorsPages with many different colors in narrower strips can also work well, producing a bead with many small stripes:

Bead from paper with many colorsHowever, if the paper’s colors are too close in tone, the bead usually comes out rather boring relative to other pages:

Bead from paper with similar colorsI hope this mini tutorial will help anyone else interested in making paper beads out of magazines — at the very least, I hope it saves you some time rolling beads and discovering what doesn’t work!

Mr. Rex

In order to kick off this blog, I’m showing off a project I finally finished after working on it off and on for over two years.

My grandmother gave my family a number of craft kits years ago that I’ve been gradually working my way through.  This particular kit was for a 20 inch tall soft-sculpture Tyrannosaurus rex, designed by Michelle Lipson in 1976.  Slightly scary to think that the fabric is probably older than I am!

Printed fabricAs you can see, the pre-printed fabric that came in the kit was huge.  That’s a queen-sized bed it’s lying on!  This was back in June 2011.



Part of the reason this project took me so long was that for a large part of it, I was hand sewing everything.  Once I decided to buy a sewing machine in January 2013, the rest started to come together much faster.

Rex04Mid stuffing.  It’s Einstein Rex!

Rex05Here he is!

Rex06All finished, in August 2013.

Rex07I think he came out pretty cool — I love the detailed print on his face.

Rex08His tiny arms are so cute!  (They were such a pain to turn and stuff, though!)

Rex09I think my favorite part is his back feet, though.  They came out amazingly well — I was really worried about being able to turn the claws, but they came out way better than I’d hoped.

I’m so glad I finally finished this project and I can’t believe it actually took me more than two years!  Of course, now I have to find a spot for a 20″ T. rex somewhere in my apartment….

Anyone else finish a crazy long project recently, or am I the only one who lets stuff drag on this long?