Friday, July 17, 2015

We're All Ears :: July Inspiration

Primitive folk art quilts of the Siddi people
The July inspiration for We're All Ears comes to us from the Siddi people of Africa.   Our inspiration are their folk art patchwork quilts. They look like visual stories played out in bright colors and special fabrics. The challenge is to interprate  this primitive African art and storytelling.  I know that paper beads are being made in Africa so I decided to make paper beads as a means of honoring these artists of Africa.  I also decided I would also attempt to have them look like quilts.

 Another quilt of the Siddi people
In England, making paper beads is a traditional craft that goes back as far as the Victorian age. Young ladies would gather socially. They handmade paper beads from scraps of wallpaper rolled on knitting needles. They would then polish the beads with bees wax and string them on to long pieces of yarn. They would then be used to make door curtains to divide rooms.  This practice was then revived in the 1920s and 30s for paper bead jewelry making.

More recently paper beads have been made in cooperatives as part of development projects in countries in Africa. This practice contributes towards business enterprises that provide sustainable income and development opportunities. The techniques used for African paper beads remains largely the same as used in Victorian times, but with scrap paper from printing companies and paper recycling markets, rather than wallpaper samples.

Digital Papers I Selected for Quilt Like Look
For my paper beads I downloaded some pink and blue paper that I though looked like quilts. I also used some purple paper that was made up of strips of paper that were laid out on paper like a quilt. 

Paper Bead Making Tools And Materials that I used:

  • Paper – I downloaded and printed 2 sheets of paper with quilt designs
  • Ruler – for measuring.  My pink and blue beads are 1 inch in length.  
  • Rotary Cutter or Scissors – for cutting out. If you are using scissors you should use the longest pair available so as to reduce the number of cuts required along each length.
  • Self Healing Cutting Mat – for cutting on.
  • Drinking straws– for rolling paper against
  • Soft Paint Brush – for applying glue to the paper.
  • Glue – for securing rolled beads.
  • Soft Paint Brush –  A quality brush is preferable at this point as it is less likely to leave bristles on the surface of your beads
  • Mod Podge Gloss Luster. – for waterproofing your rolled beads. 
  •  Clear Nail Polish-for a glossy finish
  • Florist Block, Polystyrene Block, or Jar – for securing the beads while drying. I just left my beads on their straws and hung them across a glass jar.

My paper earrings with end caps glued to them
Finished Paper Earrings by Bay Moon Design

I finished my earrings by attaching some sterling ear wires that I made.  They are available to purchase in my shop HERE.
If you would like to see what others were inspired to make, click HERE


  1. Love the earrings. I have been wanting to get into paper rolled beads as I am a scrap booker also and have soooooo much paper left over and really hate to throw it away. Thanks for showing us how you made them, they are really pretty!

  2. What pretty beads and earrings! Your description of how paper beads have been made and used through different eras is interesting. Thanks!

  3. Fantastic! Your paper tube beads are a perfect answer to this months challenge! Thanks for sharing all the steps it took to create these!

  4. I love that this months inspiration has brought you to explore another traditional craft! Two beautiful pairs of unique earrings and many thanks for the instructions too xx

  5. Super fun that you played with making your own paper beads... Great idea! The finished earrings turned out fabulously.

  6. I like the direction you chose to go in with this. The fact that the paper beads are also made in a similar fashion in Africa is a nice touch! I can see so many applications for these paper beads (and Lord knows I have a ton of paper that is waiting to find it's purpose!) Thanks for playing along with me. Join me on August 7th for our next We're All Ears inspiration! Enjoy the day. Erin

  7. I have always loved paper beads. Yours are just lovely and so are you earrings.