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!

thee all see-ing eYe (a collection)

What is the Evil Eye?

Let’s read on & learn some things about it!

According to the wiki :

“The evil eye is a curse believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury. Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also frequently called “evil eyes”…  Charms and decorations with eye-like symbols known as nazars, which are used to repel the evil eye are a common sight across Greece, Turkey, Albania, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Southern Italy (Naples), the Levant, and Afghanistan.”

I remember looking at some of my dad’s Mason books after he died (and feeling pretty sure the Mason police were going to get me for it) and seeing some freaky eye-iconography. No explanations of what the heck Masons are or what they do, but plenty of those weird pyramids with the ever watching eye on top…


Since it seems like basically every culture on earth has a link to this, it doesn’t feel like inappropriate cultural appropriation for me to love these eyes. At least, I hope not!

You may notice that most of the icons are BLUE eyes…I’ve always heard that people with blue eyes are more susceptible to getting cursed by an evil eye. Good thing I got my Pop’s Cajun blooded brown eyes! WHEW!

What it boils down to, for me, is that I find the iconography appealing aesthetically.

And it sure can’t hurt to try to ward off evil!

Here is my collection so far–feel free to add to it! 🙂


Here I am right after I got my temporary crowns on my front teeth–you KNOW I was wearing my favorite evil eye necklace (that I have NO idea who made–it was a gift) for THAT! (and my Origami Owl!)


clutch from Torrid!


eyeball socks from the dreaded Urban Outfitters a few years back.


bracelet from Sentry Drug, “pop” from Karisma Jewelers


keychain/necklace from Cherokee flea market vendor


necklace with tear from Wish  (a Christmas present from Vivian!)


cat eye earrings (Patti Smith & Duck) made by Vivian!


Swatch “the Eyes are Watching” by McPherson, with collectible vinyl.

Aaaaaaand for those of you who love some Walker Texas Ranger, now you can have the theme song stuck in your head! The eyes of the Ranger are upon you! (not unlike God and Santa Claus, eh?!) 🙂 It seems to fit well with the whole ‘evil eye’ thing.

Do you collect evil eyes or other good luck talismans?

Stay tuned for more of my strange collections!

EDIT (for Jesse 🙂 ): Funnily enough, I bought the three eyed guy in the Cayman islands, where tourists apparently go to buy watches and jewelry. My mom and I scoffed at the cruise folk with us who were foaming at the mouth to buy these things. And then we did the very same thing! Mom got a rad Swarovski bracelet and I bought 2 Swatches! The little dude came with the watch and he is a “vinyl collectible”–not a TOY. I was corrected by the salesman haha! Check out Kidrobot for more weird figures. Tara McPherson is the designer for the one I have!