Thursday, May 15, 2014

How To Upcycle Old Magazines Into New Jewelry

I love making paper beads. I love it so much I could stay up all night creating them. Whenever I teach jewelry making classes with children I almost always spend a couple days making rolled paper beads, and then of course, I become obsessed with making them myself. It's amazing to see what pretty things one can create from such a simple material.

The craft itself is ancient and still practiced in Africa today. The beads are also very easy to make which means they are a kid friendly craft and provide almost instant gratification. I'm planning to create some kind of wired paper bead installation in the not too distant future when I get a little extra time that's not already dedicated to five million other things. It could happen. Really.

In the ongoing move to migrate Helium craft articles to my blog I'm taking a break from sewing to highlight how to make jewelry by upcycling magazine pages. The article used to contain hyperlinks for more information, but the links have become obsolete so I've removed them.

How To Make Jewelry From Old Magazines

Magazine pages are glossy and colorful and ideal for making jewelry.  The pages can be recycled to create beads, brooches, pins and earrings using a variety of very simple techniques and few additional materials.
Rolled paper beads have been made since ancient Egypt and they are so simple you can create dozens of them within a matter of hours.  Kids enjoy making them as well and when you learn how to choose the right pages you can create an array of beautiful beads even the pickiest person would be proud to own and wear.
To make beads from magazine pages simply cut across either the width or length of the page in such a way that you end up with long triangular strips of paper that are about an inch across the width at the bottom and taper down into a point at the top.
You may want to use a ruler in the beginning or even create a triangle template from leftover cardboard to make forming uniform triangles easier.  You will need two triangles for every pair of earrings you plan to make and a dozen or more for a necklace depending on your desired finished length.
Lay the triangle on your work surface with the most colorful side down and carefully roll up the widest edge around a toothpick just enough so that the paper touches itself and add a dab of glue as you continue rolling and adding small dabs of glue.  
Carefully remove the beads from the toothpicks by sliding them off and sit them aside to dry.  If you are making magazine page beads with very young children they can roll the magazine triangles around plastic drinking straws.  After the beads are dry they can be cut apart for stringing.
Magazine pages can be used pretty much in the same way that other papers can for crafting and the same techniques such as origami, iris folding and tea folding used in paper crafts can be used to create jewelry.
To make a simple brooch with a recycled magazine page you will need a small square or rectangle of card stock at least two by two inches, a magazine page, tape, a craft knife (or scissors) and a shape template.  Use the shape template to cut a shape from the center of the cardstock.  (It will look like you have created a new stencil.)
Iris folding involves laying folded strips of paper over an opening to create rows of overlapping folds that fan out slightly at one end.  It’s a little like looking at a camera aperture when it’s closed. 
To Create an iris fold miniature for use in making a brooch, start by cutting a colorful magazine page into one half inch wide strips.  Fold a strip in half length-wise and lay it over the shape cut out on the back of your cardstock template.  You want to lay it down at a slight angle (maybe 25 degrees?) taking care that the edge of the paper does not show in the opening if you turn it over. 
Secure the strip in place with a tiny piece of tape and flip it over just to be sure you have the angle correct.  It is important that the folded edge be the side that shows in the opening and that the open edges are hidden beneath each previous strip when flipped over.  (See the photo at the link above).
Keep adding folded strips of magazine page until the opening is covered.  You may find that as you go along your angles will change slightly as you add new strips and that you may start your angle slightly lower than the position of the previous strip.  When the opening is almost completely covered you will notice a small hole.  Simply take a flat scrap from your magazine page and cover this hole from the back.
Cover the completed iris back with a corresponding size of cardstock, cardboard, foam core or a scrap of matt board and glue on a pin back to complete the brooch.
There are few different ways to use paper to create bracelets, but one quick, easy and fun way to create a bracelet from a recycled magazine page only requires the ability to accordion fold.  If you’ve ever made a folded paper fan, you have the ability to fold an origami bracelet.
You will need a colorful page from a magazine trimmed on the longest side so that is perfectly square.  (i.e. if the page is 10 ½” by 8”, trim the 10.5 side to 8”).  Fold the square in half across the middle on the diagonal making sure to smooth the fold down completely to get a good crease.
Now you will have a triangle shape.  Take the top point of the triangle and fold it down to the middle of the previous fold making sure to have both layers of paper.  You should have a long almost rectangular shape with slanted ends.  Fold the edge of that shape over to meet the previous fold and repeat this step once more.
Now unfold the paper completely.  Starting at the middle of the square, fold the paper down along the first fold line from the center crease.  Now accordion fold back and forth until you get to the last crease.  At this point the tip of the “triangle” should be pointed inward.  Rotate the paper and do the same thing to the other side of the square only this time you will have to invert the fold from a peak fold to a valley fold. 
What you will see when you’re done is a series of alternating triangles as a result of the folding.  Take the entire folded piece and turn it over.  Carefully slide the tip of one end inside the space just past the tip of the other end where the folds begin.  Secure in place with tape and your recycled magazine page bracelet is complete.  (This project was learned from the book “Friendship Origami” by Jill Smolinski)
For Jewelry projects with kids decoupage can be use to reinvent existing wood or plastic beads or to turn a cardboard tube into a bracelet. It is quick and easy and cheap and only requires magazine pages, glue (such as mod podge), and a small (cheap) paint brush.  If you are covering beads you may want to insert toothpicks into foam to allow the beads to dry.  Just check them periodically to make sure they are not sticking to the foam.
To make a decoupage bracelet from tp or paper towel tubes, cut a tube into rings and then make a cut in one ring from top to bottom so it can go on and off the arm.  Alternatively, you may want to cut a tube open in a straight line from one edge to the other and then cut it into slices to make a bracelet.
Cover the tube with bits of cut or torn paper (glued on) just as you would decoupage any other surface.  Allow it to cure and coat entire surface with another layer of glue or varnish.  Your bracelet can be further embellished by adding trims such as nylon cord along the edge or dimensional paint or whatever you choose.
There are so many great options for making jewelry from old magazines.  All it takes is a little time, a few supplies and your own imagination.
The article was originally published in 2010.  I'm surprised I didn't reference The Paper Jewelry Book, by Jessica Wrobel. Maybe it's because I ordered it Pre-Katrina and the majority of my books were in storage at the time. At any rate, it's definitely worth checking out.

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