Collections #2: Paper Beads

One of my favorite things to run across at thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales are paper beads. My collection first started as a little girl when my great-grandmother Alice Pope (Mama Pope) made and gave me my first paper bead necklace. Over the years she made so many, and I am lucky to still have several of them. About 15 years ago I started actively collecting this kind of necklace and here is most of what I have so far!

Below are my favorite ones that Mama Pope made. The paper source was the blue sky in the background of church bulletins. I get stopped nearly every I wear these so people can compliment them–people often think they are turquoise stones from a few paces away.


Here is a link to a really neat article about the history of paper beads.

There are tons of tutorials out there on how to make paper beads yourself {here are some step-by-step instructions}. It is so easy and fun, but be warned–it is totally addictive! If you make some be sure to share pictures with me!

Here is most of my collection!


In the article linked above there is a mention of Ugandan people making paper beads {here is a website so you can see the kind I’m talking about}. I can spot this type anywhere–they are very well made; very round and well coated with a protective shellac. I bought my first necklace like this from a Ten Thousand Villages shop to celebrate a great new job (that necklace is in the upper left corner). You can buy these beads online or at stores like TTV.

I can’t be sure but I suspect that the pink ones and the green ones in the lower lower right corner are also Ugandan. All the others above were thrifted except the very long one in the lower left corner–those came from the mother of my field agent Cotton Candy 🙂

The necklace below is made from beads that were sent to me back when I actively wrote a zine. Some fans sent them in to me after reading about my collection. They also sent the scarab beetle bead–I love scarabs! This is one of my favorites as well since the beads were such a thoughtful gift.


Below are some earrings Cotton Candy made for me–

you may remember them from a Tiny Tuesday not long ago.


I’m almost too embarrassed to post the picture below because the beads need to be polished so badly! My mom got these sterling silver “paper bead” earrings for Christmas many years ago. They look almost patina-ed here but they really shine when freshly polished.


And a few recent acquisitions!


{left, from Amy’s House; right, from a thrift store in Daytona}

That’s it for my collection so far!

                           Have you made these kinds of beads before?

                                                           Do you have a growing collection?

If so then tell me so…and have a super-freaking-duper week!

7 thoughts on “Collections #2: Paper Beads

  1. This is so interesting! I make jewelry as a hobby and have sold a little. I never even knew about paper beads! They’re beautiful. I’ll try myself soon.


  2. I think it was must have been my grandmother who taught me how to make these, too! This makes me want to have a paper bead making project at the Community Workshop! We have SO much letterpress printed paper that gets reused several times for testing the ink and alignment of the pages, but then just goes in recycling. Test print paper beads would be neat and they’d be reminiscent of the Chair City books, which would be sweet. Maybe they could be a fundraiser for the project and/or gifts for volunteers. Thanks for the inspiration!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s