Most people recycle their old magazines once they have read them, but 5Inc wanted to do more than that. As an environmental and socio-economic development organisation, they always look at how incomes can be generated from waste material. So when a load of old home decor magazines were donated to them, a group of ladies in Jhb were trained to make paper beads from the magazine pages, and a contract was secured to supply paper bead jewellery to an online retailer in the USA.
Making paper beads is a traditional craft that goes back to the Victorian age in England. Young ladies would gather socially to make handmade beads from scraps of wallpaper rolled on knitting needles. The beads would be strung on yarn and used to make door curtains to divide rooms. The tradition has been revived periodically since then, with the beads most commonly used to create jewellery pieces.
Paper bead projects are ideal for teaching underprivileged communities to use waste material as sources of income because the resources needed are simple and easy to access (wooden skewers, glue, glaze, any waste paper). The beaders are able to make gorgeous handcrafted paper beads and turn them into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. And because they use recycled, paper, the projects help prevent environmental degradation and pass on environmental conservation awareness at the same time. Instead of trash, waste paper becomes art, beauty, skills, food, and hope.
Each bead is hand-rolled and unique, and each jewellery item contains a piece of the crafter's imagination and skill.