Sunday, March 2, 2014

Homemade Paper Mardi Gras Beads

Lately I've become quite taken with paper crafts. I've used folded paper books in my displays at craft show for the past 2 years and made paper treat boxes too. I'm also a big fan of "up cycling" or what it used to be called "we're too poor to buy stuff from the craft store so let's use what we have". I made paper beads galore when I was little-mainly out of magazines or newspapers. There's something quite zen like about rolling out paper beads and sealing them with a dab of glue. It takes awhile, but is well worth it when you finally get to make your jewelry. 

A brief history of Mardi Gras beads.....Tuesday, March 4 2014 is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. This is the last hurrah of excess before Lent. You party, drink, eat and generally do whatever it is you are going to give up for Lent. In Louisiana (mainly in New Orleans), parades are held by different "crewes" and beads and tokens are thrown to people chanting "Throw me something mister". In the 1950s the beads were glass and made in Czechoslovakia. Due to cost, the beads were manufactured in China and were made of plastic. Sadly, most Mardi Gras beads end up in the garbage after the thrill of the parades has ended. These paper beads are inexpensive (unless you use some fancy paper) and will last beyond a parade. 

I chose to keep with the Mardi Gras theme of purple (symbolizes justice), green (symbolizes faith) and gold (symbolizes power). 


Paper (your choice)
Modge Podge
Bamboo Skewers (found in the baking aisle)
String, Twine, or Wire (to string the beads-I used jewelry wire)
Jewelry Closures (jump rings, etc)
Beads (I used purple Czech glass beads to tie in with the 1950's in gold and purple)

You will need to cut out triangles to form your beads. The width of the base of your triangle will dictate the length of your beads. My triangles are 10" long. I drew out 2" and 1" triangles. I used the triangles formed with the left over paper (.5") for really small beads. 
My three sizes of triangles and my three types of paper-marbled green and gold and a handmade purple.
These were left overs from a previous craft, any paper will do!
My three sizes of beads-you can get some great variation of size!

Next, you want to take your paper triangle and with the non pointy end, start to roll it on the bamboo skewer.

Try and roll the paper a little tight, not too much, or you won't be able to slip it off the skewer.

Keep rolling, try and keep the paper centered-your beads will look cleaner.

When you have about that much paper not rolled, using a paint brush, brush some Modge Podge
or other type of clear craft glue on the inside and finish rolling. This will secure your bead.
I them coated the entire outside of the bead with glue to add a barrier and make it
more wearer friendly. 

Let the glue on the bead dry. I turned an egg carton upside-down and stuck the pointy end of the skewer in to serve as a drying rack.

When your bead is dry, remove it from the skewer. Do this for all the triangles you have cut. I always try and make more beads than I think I will need. 

Next is the fun part-making jewelry!

I mixed up sizes on these necklaces and used spacer beads to add some flash.

Now you're ready for the party! Happy Mardi Gras. 

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