If you have had the opportunity to buy one of our beautiful paper bead necklaces you might have wondered, “How are these paper beads made? And who makes them?” Like our shoulder bags, many people are involved in making the jewellery that is sold with the Watoto Children’s Choir. The first step is the production of paper beads, which is an elaborate process that requires skill and patience.
A few weeks ago we introduced Florence Okun and the team of women who make paper beads together. Our paper beads are sourced from women like Florence who have been through the Living Hope program and now work in the community. They make the paper beads and bring them in bulk to the Living Hope centre where women who are currently in training string the beads together into bracelets and necklaces.
Today we follow Florence’s team as they show us the process of making a paper bead. To make paper beads you will need: paper, scissors or a paper cutter, string, white glue, clear varnish, a toothpick, a bucket and a clothesline.
First Emma cuts the paper into long triangular strips. You can use recycled paper, scraps of manila, card stock or magazine paper.
Emma and Jen roll the strips of paper tightly around a toothpick and secure it with white glue.
Jen and Grace string the beads together. This protects the bead’s opening during the varnishing.
Then Doreen varnishes the strung beads in a bucket with clear varnish or glossy mod podge and she hangs them on a clothesline to dry.
Many of the beads stick to each other when the varnish dries, so Filister goes through each strand and separates them.
Finally, the beads are hung for display or taken to our Living Hope centre. Just like the women at Living Hope, each bead has its own unique beauty. The jewellery we sell empowers women who are in the program but also many who have graduated. So, thank you for buying products that empower. If you’ve had the opportunity to purchase our jewellery, would you share a photo of yourself on twitter with the hashtag #beadsoflivinghope & some encouragement for our women? Or send us an email and we’ll pass it on to them.