Glazed Paper Jewelry by Anna Sofia Designs

Anna Sofia Poirier [edit: site no longer available], whose studio is located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, makes beautiful glazed paper jewelry. She works with richly colored papers from all over the world... Japan, Nepal, Brazil, India, Thailand, France, and Italy. Many of the patterns contain natural fibers, such as bamboo, Lokta bark, kozo, gambi, cotton, and silk.

glazed black and white paper necklace

Anna has developed a complex, fifteen step method for the making of each paper bead... this ensures durability, yet results in jewelry that's lightweight and comfortable to wear. She makes the beads by hand; two to five layers of high quality illustration board compose the core. This allows her to vary the thickness to create a variety of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.

All sides of a bead are covered with decorative paper and then sealed with a non-toxic, acid-free glaze. Anna uses sterling silver components to turn the beads into wearable art. Remarkably, each design is unique as she never makes the same piece twice.

Don't these red swirls look good enough to eat?!

How and when did yo
u come up with the process of making your beads?

All through experimentation... lots of cutting, gluing, exploring different papers, seeing which were most malleable, and letting things unfold naturally. I'm self-taught. I began about five years ago with rolled paper beads. At first, I used pages from magazines and catalogs with decorative paper here and there. After a few months I switched solely to artisan and decorative papers. I felt limited by the tubular shapes of the beads; I wanted to do more with shapes and sizes, so I began making flat paper beads with illustration board as the core. That's when things really took off in a wonderful way.

Have you always been interested in making things and have you taken jewelry-mak
ing classes?
I've made things with my hands all my life. I've done illustration, sewn clothes, made ceramics, created artist's books, made cut paper art, lots of origami, soft sculptures, and things with polymer clay.

I took a jewelry class once, 23 years ago in high school, using sterling silver, copper, and gemstones. I loved the 'making' part of it, but wasn't interested in pursuing a craft with flames, sawing and banging, and too many tools.

I prefer a quiet craft, just the snipping of paper, or clipping of wire, with a small amount of tools; the primary ones being my hands and scissors, and the incredibly satisfying feel of paper. I like to sew, draw, and do paper crafts. My favorite form of visual expression (other than making jewelry) is photography - I love taking pictures of birds and nature.

How did you decide to turn your jewelry line into a full-time career?

I was doing other work (teaching yoga and movement) when I started making jewelry. I began selling the jewelry on a whim, just to see what would happen. Well... people bought it, which was awesome!

I hadn't really planned on anything like that, but the more jewelry I made and sold, the more I felt invigorated and creatively charged to be regularly crafting. It really just kind of happened, and in a very organic, unforced way. I gradually eased away from my other work and devoted more time to my jewelry business. I'm a natural born entrepreneur - I like having freedom, flexibility, and lots of control with my work.

A website was a distant fuzzy dream, very daunting, but I had these sweet, encouraging customers who kept nudging me along. I finally did it. One of my earliest customers on the site [edit: no longer available] was a man buying a first wedding anniversary gift for his wife. He mentioned that paper was the traditional gift, and he was so excited to have found my jewelry. Ever since then, I continue to get lots of first wedding anniversary customers. Part of the joy of having my own business is letting it evolve and seeing what happens next!

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. Fantastic! Beautiful and amazing! Thank you so much for sharing Anna's work with us.


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