Sunday, 13 July 2014

Paper Bead Printables: A Masterclass

I just love paper beads. It’s the transformation  thing – a long, narrow paper triangle morphs into a cute little bead – magic! And I am intrigued by how a nuance of change in the pattern shape alters the final appearance of the bead.  If you like quilling, you’ll love paper beads. Roll ‘em!

Making paper beads, like quilling, is fun – but labour-intensive. (I know- that’s not why you do it!) Good news. Just like most things, techie advances have come to paper beadery.  Paper beading is now faster in four different ways. 1. Your friendly desktop inkjet printer. 2. An amazing patent-applied-for paper bead tool from Paper Bead Girl. 3. Digital paper cutters. 4. A clever new gadget for stringing beads – the Knot-a-Bead from Beadalon.  Make use of all – or some.

I’ve been on a paper bead binge – playing with my toys. And I have come up with a new phenomenon – the paper bead topper. Because the most visible part of the finished bead is just the final 5cm (2in) of the triangle – the apex end. This is visible as the centre portion of the bead. To me, this  represents a blank canvas (well, a nano blank canvas).
Two types of Paper Bead Printables.

I’ve been having a great time making engineered prints to fit the bead templates – so that the bits that you want to see are accentuated, and shown off by the rolled ridges to either side. 

To start you off, I’m presenting a paper bead Masterclass, to get you up to speed on basic paper bead skills. And to introduce you to the new gadgets.  Here we go:

Printable Paper Beads: A Masterclass

Part One: Making the Beads

For my examples, I will be making one of the topper-style beads, as seen in the pic above. As you can see, there are three bead template bases of varying widths and a choice of toppers to fit. (Your free templates will follow later in the blogpost.) Cut the base out of cartridge/construction paper (I used Inspire Me paper in Midnight blue). Print the toppers onto ordinary thin photocopier paper.
1 Glue the topper onto the tip of the bead template with edges aligned.
Use tacky PVA glue applied with a cocktail stick.

Above, a pic of the fantastic new paper bead tool from Paper Bead Girl.
If you don't have the gadget, no worries - you can still make the beads. Roll your beads around a cake pop stick or a cocktail stick. Make a few test beads to make sure that the bead holes are big enough to accommodate your chosen stringing cord. There are also beading tools 
that are really just large-diameter quilling tools.
2 Time to start rolling. Slide the wide end of the bead strip into the slot. The patterned side of the bead strip is facing upwards.(Doh - of course you do want the decorative side facing outwards.)
3 Twist the barrel away from you, while keeping hold of the bead strip and maintaining an even tension. Keep the bead strip centred, equal
amounts to either side.
4 When you get to the end of the bead strip, it is time to glue. Grasp the rolled bead firmly and apply tacky PVA glue along the inside edge of the strip.
5 Press the glued strip end down firmly onto the bead barrel. Hold it in place until the glue sets. (We are talking seconds here, not minutes!)
6 Time to eject the bead from the tool. Just give the purple barrel a shove to release the bead. Easy! (If you a using a low tech bead-rolling method, you will have to prise the bead off the rolling stick.)

The all-in-one-printed paper bead strips are made in the same way.

It is now time to coat the beads with sealer to make them more durable and give them a nice finish. Mod Podge Paper Matte is my sealing medium of choice. It is water soluble, non-toxic, and dries quickly. (Because it is water-soluble, your brush cleans up quickly.) Mod Podge Paper also comes in Gloss. My personal preference is Matte.
I love the sophisticated subtle sheen.

Your paper bead sealing supplies are shown in the pic above. In addition to the Mod Podge, you will need some cocktail sticks, an inexpensive brush, and a bead drying rack.
I have supplied you with a template for a drying rack (at end of blogpost). The rack is easy to make, so there are no step-by-step pics.
Instead, I'll talk you through it.

Here's how: 1 Cut the template out of cartridge/construction paper. 
2 Score all the fold lines. 3 Crease the folds. 4 Fold the sides up and glue the short tabs to adjacent sides. 5 Apply double-sided tape to the bottom edges of the four turn-backs. Fold these to the inside of the box. The bead-carrying cocktail sticks fit into the notches:
Back to the beads:
7 Brush the beads with a thin coat of Mod Podge. Wipe the brush clean between beads (keep a tissue to hand). Make sure that the beads are not touching each other on the cocktail stick "dowel" (you don't want them to stick together). The Mod Podge dries quickly - about 15-20 minutes. It's up to you whether you want to apply a second coat. 

Note: the Mod Podge is water soluble. So is inkjet printer ink. So, when you apply the Mod Podge to your printable beads, it is going to run just a little. Personally, I like the slightly smudged vintage-like look. And to me, the benefits of working with a quick-drying, non-toxic sealant far outweigh a little smudging. It is advisable to coat a few test beads first.
Top tips: 1 don't saturate the beads with the Mod Podge - be sparing. 2 Wipe your brush clean between beads. This will remove any colour that has bled from the ink.

Okay. You've now got a pile of paper beads. Time for stringing!

Part Two: Stringing the beads
When it comes to stringing, I like to keep things simple. I string my beads onto waxed nylon cord. (They have a nice selection of pre-cut lengths in the hobby section of John Lewis.) I knot the cord between beads to keep the beads in place. Knotting is also an attractive design feature. To wear, I just tie the necklace on - no need for fancy fittings. A simple bow is compatible with the folk-art look of paper beads.

Here's how to string your beads using a Beadalon Knot-a-Bead gadget:
1 Knot the end of your cord. Then make another knot 20cm (8in)
beyond the first one - this makes a tying tail. Thread the first bead onto the cord. Pass the cord end over the bar of the Knot-a-Bead.

Now, the instructions on the Knot-a-Bead box tell you to string all your beads first. My personal preference is to string-then-knot the beads individually. I find this to be a much less cumbersome process. The paper beads have large holes, and stringing them is easy.

Note: when you are stringing, you should give some consideration to the "running order" of the beads. Balance the shapes and the colours.
Alternate dark and light beads. It takes about 12-15 beads to make a necklace. You might want to use a Bead Design Board.
  2 Tie an overhand knot around the bar and pull it tight.
3 Pass the bead(s) to the back and slide the knot into the righthand chamber. Pull the knot tight.
5 Slide the button over to release the bead. Take the strand out of the Knot-a-Bead.

6 String on the next bead and repeat the knotting process. When all the beads are strung, tie another overhand knot 20cm (8in) beyond the last bead. Trim the cord after the knot. Your necklace is complete!
In addition to the Paper Bead Printables, I have provided you with two packaging options: a handbag-style presentation box or a card-topper that fits a cello bag. You can fill them either with a finished necklace or with bead components (paper beads + waxed nylon cord).

With these Paper Bead Printables, you've got plenty to keep you going for a very enjoyable craft session. In fact, you could make a paper bead party.

Here are your Paper Bead Printables:


Here's the packaging:


I haven't provide how-tos for assembling the box because this blogpost has turned into a bit of a marathon - and it's basic box: cut, score, fold, assemble. (Bottom tab to tuck in.) The ribbon handles on the box are vintage-look seam binding - a great finishing touch.

So, now that you are up-to-speed on paper beadery, I've got more to come:
Next up: Paper Bead Printables inspired by Mexican Paper-Cutting.
Soon: Washi Beads.

Stay tuned! And happy beading.

Here are the links to your other Paper Bead Printables (taking the TARDIS to the future...):