Originally a form of trade in primitive cultures, our fascination with beads has traveled through the ages. It would be difficult to find a culture that doesn’t have some history of bead making. Perhaps it is because of this long term history that people gravitate to beaded items; it’s in our subconscious mind, an inborn fascination. Take a trip to any museum and watch how people flock to the beaded exhibits. Personally, I would list beading as a universal language, right up there with music and painting.
This natural attraction combined with simplicity makes beading a beloved hobby—anyone who can push a string through a hole can create something beautiful! What’s even better…you don’t need to buy beads; you can make them or use unusual objects. Any object you can string is a potential bead—and when you think of it that way the possibilities are mind boggling!
One of the easiest ways to make beads at home is with paper. Simply wrap a strip of colorful paper around a skewer or toothpick. Dab a bit of glue at the end of the wrapping, let dry, and apply a coat of acrylic sealer. Judi Kins Diamond Glaze will seal your beads without any tackiness. Once dry, it feels like a hard plastic coating.
Here are a few of my paper beads; I applied the same technique to craft ribbon which resulted in some very pretty lavender beads. This is child-friendly craft. There are plenty of instructional tutorials on YouTube, or you can download a free .pdf, with patterns for making different shaped beads, over at Big Bead Little Bead.
With a bit more skill, and access to an oven, you can delve into the world of polymer clay. Or, with a pair of flush cutters and a bit of wire you can go on a wrapping spree. Wire wrapping opens the door to viewing ordinary objects in a whole new light. That shell, coin, or stone on your dresser can be a pendant in just a matter of minutes! My current project includes puzzle pieces which don’t require any wire, just a small punch with a nail.
Why do you love to bead? What is the strangest object you’ve ever used in a project? Ever had a beading catastrophe? Please share!