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Woven paper and wooden block necklace

Take a blast from the past into flashy new territory with a necklace made of woven paper and gilded building blocks.
Woven paper and wooden block Full Necklace
Because of the flexibility of the woven paper elements, this necklace moves nicely when worn.
Woven paper and wooden block earrings
Apply the same technique to make a matching pair of earrings!

Summers in South Dakota were such fun for a young girl growing up in the ‘60s. Diamond Ball Park, in Watertown, is where I learned this weaving technique. We would spend hours making friendship bracelets, key chains, and necklaces with plastic “luster” lace. So many fond memories of those days percolate whenever I weave with this technique.

The steps are simple, and you will surely notice how time passes quickly and peacefully as you work in this repetitive, meditative way. I have woven beads from wire, lace, ribbon, and bezel wire, and all have turned out beautifully. I love the flexibility of paper chain and how lightweight it is to wear. Choose colors that appeal to you, and just enjoy the process!

SUPPLIES

  • 100 strips quilling paper, 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) wide 
  • Wooden blocks, 5⁄8 in. (16 mm) square (approximately 15; number determined by design)
  • Square wooden dowel, 1⁄4 in. (6.5 mm), at least 2 in. (51 mm) long
  • Craft wood, 1⁄4 in. (6.5 mm) thick
  • 2 6-in. (15.2 cm) square sheets, gold and/or copper leaf, 
  • 1 1⁄2 yds (1.38 m) leather cord 
  • Hand drill or flex shaft with #30 (1⁄8 in./3 mm) drill bit
  • Scrap lumber, 6 x 4 1⁄2 in. (15.2 x 11.4 cm) or larger
  • Glue: wood glue, tacky white glue
  • Wooden dowels (round):
    • 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) diameter, 6 in. (15.2 cm)
    • 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) diameter, one end sharpened
  • Painter’s tape
  • Ruler
  • Rubber cement (optional)
  • Bench vise
  • Jeweler’s saw with coarse blade
  • Wood file, sandpaper
  • Wood stain touch-up pens, assorted colors
  • Freezer paper
  • Gold leaf adhesive size
  • Stiff brush
  • Clear satin spray varnish

INSTRUCTIONS

PART ONE: MAKE THE PAPER BEADS

From one standard package of quilling paper in mixed colors, I made 15 beads in a variety of color combinations.

For the longest bead, I used four groups of four strips; for the smallest, I used one group of four strips. You could make the beads all the same size or in a variety of sizes. I suggest that you make your beads no smaller than one group of four strips of quilling paper; if you choose to make your beads all the same size, make them at least 1 1/2 strips long to show off the weave.

Woven paper and wooden block necklace Paper Step 1

1. Build the armature. Use a #30 (1⁄8-in./ 3 mm) drill bit in a hand drill or flex shaft to drill a hole halfway through a piece (6 x 4 1⁄2 in./15.2 x 11.4 cm) of scrap lumber.  

 

Generously apply wood glue into the hole, and insert a 1⁄8-in. (3 mm)-diameter, 6-in. (15.2 cm)-long wooden dowel into the hole at a 90° angle. Remove any excess glue with a damp cloth, and allow the armature to dry.

Woven paper and wooden block necklace Paper Step 2

2. Anchor the weave. Use painter’s tape to secure a strip of quilling paper to the armature. Leave a two-inch tail on one side of the dowel. The paper strip should fit snugly against the dowel.

 

Attach the second and third strips of paper in the same manner. Orient each strip at a 90° degree angle to and on top of the previous strip.

Woven paper and wooden block necklace Paper Step 3
3. Attach the fourth strip of paper in the same manner. After placing the strip over strip 3, slide it under strip 1.
Woven paper and wooden block necklace Paper Step 4
4. Weave a paper column. Fold strip 4 back over strips 1 and 3. Fold strip 3 back over strips 4 and 2. Fold strip 2 back over strips 3 and 1.
Woven paper and wooden block necklace Paper Step 5
5. Fold strip 1 back over strip 2 and under strip 4. 

NOTE: Cutting the tips of your paper strips into a point will make weaving easier. 
Woven paper and wooden block necklace Paper Step 6
6. Weave in this manner until you have nearly run out of paper. You can either end the column at that point or add more paper. To add paper, lay a new strip along the length of the strip you are re-placing, and under the adjacent strip.
Woven paper and wooden block necklace Paper Step 7
7. Trim the original strip so that it is flush with the edge of the column. Continue to add and trim strips in this manner until you have replaced all four. Then, resume weaving with the newly added strips. No glue is needed. 

NOTE: Change colors on all strips in the same step to ensure a smooth transition. 
 
Woven paper and wooden block Beads

When the column reaches your desired length, remove the painter’s tape and slide the column off the dowel. Trim the strips flush with the edge of the column.

 

Repeat to make as many paper beads as you desire for your piece.

PART TWO: WOOD ELEMENTS
The toggle bar and catch will be made from wood, as will the beads that will intersperse with the paper beads in the finished necklace. 
Woven paper and wooden block necklace Wood Step 1

1. Measure and mark the wooden pieces. The toggle bar will be 1 1⁄2 in. (38 mm) long with a hole drilled at the midpoint. Measure and mark a 1⁄4-in. (6.5 mm) square wooden dowel for cutting (1 1⁄2 in./38 mm) and drilling (3⁄4 in./19 mm). 

 

The catch will be 1 1⁄4 in. (32 mm) square with an off-center 3⁄4 x 1⁄2 in. (19 x 13 mm) cutout. You’ll need to drill one hole at the midpoint of the base, and another to allow you to pierce the cutout. Either mark the measurements on a piece of 1⁄4-in. (6.5 mm)-thick craft wood, or attach this paper template to the wood with rubber cement.

Woven paper and wooden block necklace Wood TEMPLATE

Count the number of paper columns you are using for your necklace, and add two; that’s how many wooden blocks you’ll need. Draw diagonal lines from corner to corner of the wooden blocks to mark the center point of each. 

Woven paper and wooden block necklace Wood Step 2
2. Drill the wooden pieces. Mark the drill points on all the wooden pieces. Secure a wooden piece in a bench vise, and use the #30 (1⁄8-in./3 mm) drill bit to drill holes where marked. Repeat to drill the holes in of all the square blocks, the toggle bar, and the toggle catch.

Saw the wooden pieces. Use a coarse blade in your jeweler’s saw to cut the toggle bar and catch to size. Pierce the center of the catch.
Woven paper and wooden block necklace Wood Step 3

3. File the wooden pieces. Use a wood file to remove any saw marks and square up the edges on both parts of the toggle. File or sand to remove any marks or imperfections in all of the wooden pieces. 


To learn the procedure to stain and apply the gold leaf surface treatment to the wood, and to learn how to assemble your necklace, refer to the free PDF. Download it here!

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