Craft Experiment: Paper Beads from old newspapers

I’ve always wanted to experiment with making beads from recycled paper but didn’t want to end up doing the usual rolled paper beads most crafters used.  I also in the process of experimenting with doing hand-crafted paper but I need to go through the stuff in the attic to find my old and discarded blender because I can’t use my working one which we still use for the kitchen and for food.  (Number one rule in crafting: do not use any equipment used in crafts to cook or handle food.)

A few days ago, I chanced upon a post which pointed me here: A Storybook Life where there was a different way to create paper beads and which I have done in two batches over the weekend.  Below you will find photos of my beads after drying:

Paperbeads from newspapers All dry: Paperbead from newspapers

I expected the beads to be darker but the procedure where boiling water is poured over the torn bits of newspaper and allowed to sit for an hour or so causes much of the ink residue to separate (literally) from the paper.  The two batches were necessary only because the first was a means for me to gauge how big I want the shreds of paper to be and how big a size of lumped wet paper makes how much of a size of a bead.  I added my own variations to the method, particularly in mixing in the glue.  Instead of mixing it in with the paper as a whole batch, I added liquid glue per bead I rolled into a round between my fingers.

I used two full spreads of a section of the New York Times, and I found that the smaller bits are necessary for smaller size clumps or beads.  (I wanted to produce smaller than 10mm so I tried to rip the paper into 1-2cm bits.  Ripping or tearing them apart as against cutting them allows the paper to be more maleable and adheres to other paper more smoothly.  I used two cups of water to fully submerge the bits of paper and let it sit.  I poked the clumps of torn paper in my metal pan and saw the ink particles separating from the paper.

I grabbed the paper by hand and squeezed the water out before putting it in a wire sifter.   The two full spreads come up to around a cup of clumped wet newspaper bits.

I cut out bits of the paper clump and squeezed the excess water out, and I found that although the water got squeezed out, it sometimes stuck to your fingers and it was more efficient to actually squeeze and rest your fingers squeezing the clump of wet water on a paper towel.  If your clump is too wet, it will be very difficult to mold it into a bead, glue or no glue.  Some of the moisture will continue to be “squeezed out” as you roll the beads.

I then spread open the tiny clump of wet paper and put enough glue on it to cover the surface and then squeezed and mashed the clump together.  The glue actually helped to smoothen out the outside.  I used my fingertips rather than my palm to roll the ball to as close to a round bead as I can.  After it had dried, the shrinkage was approximately 5-10%.

The original instructions gave instructions to “sand” the bead to a smooth finish, but my next project is to try to decoupage the round base BEFORE putting a beadhole into it.  (More to come…)

The beads came out rather solidly and are very light.  I’m already excited by the different possibilities!  Part II soon!