Paper Bead Jewelry by Wansena Spearman

I bet lots of us have tried our hand at rolling paper beads. I remember the process as simple and oh-so-satisfying when I was a child at our local summer playground. Wansena Spearman of Etsy shop, Paper Me Jewels [edit: site no longer available], brings a grown up dimension to paper beads by combining rich colors with wire work and metal embellishments.

To make this pair of stylish bracelets, she hand painted metallic shades of red on paper, used it to create beads, and strung them on memory wire. Some of her beads are made from scrapbook paper, and others are recycled paper. All are coated with several layers of polyurethane for water resistance, but Wansena doesn't recommend submerging them!

Paper beads in a variety of sizes dangle from an antique chain bracelet.

Wansena's love affair with paper began several years ago while visiting a street festival which highlighted eco-friendly jewelry and accessories. She came away impressed with the intricate techniques and artistry of several sellers who designed pocketbooks and bags from recycled paper and magazines. She began thinking about making jewelry from paper, but due to elbow surgery was unable to pursue it. As time passed, being a wife, mother, and student took up the majority of her time, and thoughts of jewelry making became just a dream.

Bib necklaces and bangle bracelets are right in style this fall. Here's Wansena modeling a glossy black, silver, and rich ivory bib necklace.

About two years ago, she and her husband moved across the U.S. to California where Wansena worked as a counselor, but after being laid off from her job, she began to think about her creative passion. Not knowing where to began, Wansena expressed her thoughts to her husband who said, “What about the paper jewelry?" She began by rolling magazine paper beads and made several pieces. While she was away for a visit back east, her husband took all of the jewelry to his place of employment without her knowledge, and sold every piece to his co-workers. Needless to say this gave Wansena confidence to continue, and the rest is history.

Rustic paper bead earrings hang from bold, but lightweight, chains.

Wansena describes her jewelry as whimsical, eclectic, and bohemian chic. She likes an unconventional look, and many of her designs capture a love of nature.

A turquoise stone is surrounded by painted cylinders in warm shades of copper, metallic ivory, and turquoise.

These bright bangles are made from upcycled bracelets found at a thrift store. They're decoupaged with orange, green and yellow banana paper, as well as a bit of mahogany.

Wansena says she is still learning about paper, enjoys trying new techniques, and looks forward to seeing where this journey will lead. She feels fortunate to have uncovered her true passion.

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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