by Jacqueline Gikow
Instructions for making metallic paper beads are provided below.
Paper is a fascinating material made from cellulose found in plant fibers. It’s a very malleable material to work with and holds many creative possibilities. Bead making with paper pulp requires basic kitchen tools and can be made at home or purchased in a prepared stated from a papermaking supplier.
For bead making, a type of sheet pulp called cotton linter is a good material to use. Paper pulp needs to be the right consistency to be formed into a bead. If it’s too runny it will be hard to shape. If it’s not wet enough you won’t be able to shape it.
Rolling the pulp mixture in the palms of your hands can make round beads. Use the tips of your fingers to smooth the surface of the beads. Look for cracks and rough spots, which can be smoothed out or filled with small amounts of pulp.
Sheer mosquito netting
Plastic containers, 1-quart size and several small containers for mixing
Household objects, such as a napkin ring or cookie cutter
Small copper beads with large holes
Bronze powder of metallic ink
1. Mix 1 ounce (28g) of cotton pulp to 16 ounces (480ml) of water in the blender for one or two minutes.
2. Strain the mixture in a strainer lined with the sheer mosquito netting, or let it drain overnight.
3. Transfer the pulp into a plastic container and add 3 tablespoons (15ml) of methylcellulose paste, 3 teaspoons of gesso (15ml) and 3/4 teaspoon 3.75ml) of linseed oil. Mix well. The mixture should have the consistency of bread dough.
4. To form the beads, flatten about 1 rounded teaspoon (5ml) between both hands to make a disk about 3/4 inches (1.9cm) wide, or use a square or round cookie cutter to press the pulp in. The edges can be left thick or squeezed to form thin edges. Use about the same quantity of pulp so that you can maintain the same size beads.
5. Push a metal bead into the center of the disc and place small amounts of pulp around it to hold it in. Let the bead dry.
6. When the beads are completely dry, they can be painted. First paint the beads with a layer of gesso. Then mix a small amount of paint with gesso to the desired shade; paint the bead and let it dry. Mix bronze powder with water and paint a light coat of the mixture on the bead. If you don’t have bronze powder, use thinned metallic ink available from an art supply store. Let dry. Add another coat of paint/gesso mixture, and blot it with a paper towel.
7. Repeat these steps until you get the surface you desire. The metallic pigment will fill the crevices and show through the coats of paint.
8. Finish each bead with two coats of acrylic varnish or spray fixative.