by Lynda Evans.
I’ve been intrigued for years with paper beads and, after lots of experimentation, finally found a way to make them that is different and very appealing. They turn out looking surprisingly like Venetian glass beads…and don’t have the weight, so you can pile them on.
Being a painter as well as a jewelry designer, I start with painting a large sheet of rather thin paper (newspaper, newsprint, packing paper, etc work well) with either watercolors, acrylics, or alcohol inks. These are layered on in various patterns and each piece is totally unique from any others. This gives me a wide range of colors and patterns to choose from for my jewelry making.
When the paper is completely dry, it is cut with a craft knife into very long thin triangles with the aid of a long corked-back metal ruler. These strips are rolled on the bead making tool, glued to hold them together. Carefully, a toothpick is inserted into the empty hole and pushed off the tool to remain on the toothpick until completion.
A styrofoam block works well to hold all of the in-process beads on toothpicks. (Any piece of scrap will do. I save mine from packages I receive. The best ones come from electronic equipment.). Next, and this does get messy, I use Triple Thick Gloss Glaze and put it on with my fingers. Dip one finger into the glaze and swirl the bead in between two fingertips to cover the bead. Put the toothpick back into the styrofoam and continue until all beads have one coat. Once dry, repeat the whole process.
Dry overnight and check to make sure all beads are completely and well coated with glaze. Remove toothpicks and, using a Q-tip, lightly highlight with Gilders Paste in the color of your choice. Be careful not to overly highlight. A little goes a long way. When dry, buff with a clean soft cloth. It’s quite appealing to see the crackle finish that develops and the gold or silver highlights mimic Venetian glass so beautifully. They have, initially, fooled many of my customers.