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African Beads From Recycled Magazines

Updated on January 21, 2013

Resourceful Artisans Upcycling Old Magazines

Women in Uganda lead a challenging life. Some were widowed by conflicts in the north of the country. Many look after children as well. See how these artisans have upcycled old magazines and created beautiful products: paper beads. Not only is the sale of these beads helping the people of Uganda, it is also bringing much-needed money into the country.

How The Paper Beads Are Rolled From Magazine Strips

Triangular Pieces Of Magazines Are Used

The people at Mzuri Beads have put together a pictorial 'how-to' of how their jewelers roll the paper beads from triangular strips of magazines. The strips are rolled around a needle and glued in place. Upon completion, they are coated with varnish and hung to dry.

Recycled Paper Beads For Sale on eBay

Look for Ugandan upcycled paper bead jewelry on eBay.

Buutiti Women Beaders

"These resourceful and proud Ugandan women live in the Acholi Quarter slums of Kampala. Using recycled paper to make beautiful bead necklaces and bracelets, they are trying to work their way out of poverty."

Awata Margaret

"At 27, Margaret was widowed when her husband was killed in the war in Northern Uganda. She and her children were left destitute. Providing even a meal for her children was difficult. When BeadforLife met Margaret she lived in an abandoned house that was falling down. Margaret became an industrious bead maker and her life began to change."

Handmade hats benefit Ugandan Children

Ugandan women fashion hats and baskets from banana fibers gotten from inside of banana leaves. These crafts are sold for only a dollar or two.

Sekitto Kisakye

A unique student from Kampala, Uganda.

One of the authors on eHow, Sekitto Kisakye, has a very endearing and uniquely African collection of how-to articles. A year-long online correspondence with this Ugandan student brought information on how to cook traditional Ugandan foods such as Katogo. The friendship also resulted in an unexpected and amazing gift of hats, baskets, wallets and beautiful jewelry arriving on my doorstep at Christmas. Fascinated by these unusual gifts, I researched what material some of the beads in the necklaces and bracelets were made of. The story behind the beads is just as beautiful as the beads themselves. Have a look at what I discovered about the women of Uganda and how they've taken recycled magazines and created something extraordinary.

In March 2009, my husband and I sent funds to Sekitto to purchase beaded jewelry with. He chose to purchase this from some widows in the Muyenga slum of Kampala. The jewelers had their daughters with them: the girls had been sent home from school due to a lack of fees. We purchased the jewelry in bulk and will shortly be selling it online, with profits going back to Uganda. The jewelers daughters additionally expressed an interest in a pen pal program currently being established for Ugandan children. One bead at a time we can give these jewelers and their families hope!

Are you as surprised as I was to discover such unique products being sold for so little money? Please let me know your thoughts on how these people of Uganda are putting every resource available to such creative and beautiful use!

Contact Laura Schofield

*If you would like to suggest any links or have your own photos and / or stories published, please send me an email. I can be contacted through my personal homepage, If you enjoy the work I've done here, I do offer professional copy writing, photo restoration / manipulation, search engine optimization and web design services. I can again be contacted for any of these services through my website.

Your thoughts on these products

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    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 

      6 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      I own one of these necklaces. They're beautiful! Thanks for the lens!

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 

      6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I did know about these before and you've done a wonderful job presenting the beads and the people behind them. Thanks

    • mommafox profile image


      6 years ago

      I didn't know about these either. I think it's a great way to use your resources. Thanks for the lens!

    • nickirc lm profile image

      nickirc lm 

      6 years ago

      Wow, I had no idea they did this how cool, thanks!

    • nickirc lm profile image

      nickirc lm 

      6 years ago

      Wow, I had no idea they did this how cool, thanks!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      How colorful and beautiful! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • CoeGurl profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Wonderful lens, and such beautiful beads made from magazines.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great lens - love the back stories for the beads, and love that they're a recycled craft.

    • Vallygems1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Simply beautiful. Maybe we need to start something like this in South Africa. Not only is it beautiful, sustainable and recycling but also creates employment

    • dawngibson lm profile image

      dawngibson lm 

      7 years ago

      These beads are so cool. I've made them myself.

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 

      7 years ago from US/TN

      Wow -- what an interesting story!

    • UKGhostwriter profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens ... well done!

    • kerbev profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate, NY

      I love these!

    • sheilamarie78 profile image


      7 years ago from British Columbia

      I actually wear a necklace made in Africa as a fundraiser for grandmothers raising their grandchildren whose parents have died of AIDS. My local grandmas-to-grandmas group sponsored a sale in our town. I love some of these products and hope we pay these craftspeople what their handcrafts are worth.

    • saraih26 profile image


      7 years ago

      So neat how one can turn something ordinary into something beautiful!

    • saraih26 profile image


      7 years ago

      So neat how one can turn something ordinary into something beautiful!

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 

      7 years ago

      Great lens. I have some beads there are made in Uganda. Our church has had some people come speak about their ministry.

      blessed by a squid angel

    • Dee Gallemore profile image

      Dee Gallemore 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for covering this with such care. Wonderfully presented ...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a great lens about a most touching subject. I really liked it. Blessed by an Angel. This lens will be featured on my angel lens: "angel-on-assignment".

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      A friend made me a necklace out of funny papers one time and I think it is basically the same technique. Very interesting.

    • The-Java-Gal profile image


      8 years ago

      What incredible stories! Many years ago, my daughter and I made some beads like these, and I have a few necklaces tucked away as keepsakes. But to think of a group of women combating poverty and sustaining their children from recycled magazines is a true inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • LynetteBell profile image


      8 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I love your lens. I was born in Africa and know just how resourceful the people are in creating beauty from something we would normally throw away. Perhaps that's why I tend to hoard!?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I was on your Chicago lens and saw this and will bookmark for future gift ideas. Light earrings that dangle and recycle--WOW.

    • beta5909 profile image


      8 years ago

      I bought some of these earrings and they are so light on the ears and pictures don't do them justice. They are really beautiful and look like a hardened bead. Thanks for sharing this.

    • NatureMaven profile image


      8 years ago

      I've been to Kenya and Tanzania and purchased jewelry from women's cooperatives, but I have never been to Uganda. These recycled jewelry designed by Uganda's women are new to me. They are beautiful! I am lens rolling this to my Wild Lion Gifts lens.

    • GonnaFly profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      My daughter has a book on how to make these beads. I love these stories of hope for the poorest of the poor. Are you selling these beads online yet?

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Love the lens, love the idea!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Love the lens, love the idea!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      I've heard of these beads, and am glad to see a lens on how they are helping women in Uganda. Do you know where the magazines come from? I'm assuming they're donated in bulk by publishers, since it would cost a lot to ship them. Welcome to the Help Africa Group.

    • Mortira profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful lens, and welcome to the Beads and Jewels group! I've added a new section just for your lens! * * * * *

    • Laura Schofield profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schofield 

      9 years ago from Chicago, IL USA

      [in reply to Margo_Arrowsmith] Of course I can Margo. Thanks for asking me!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh, and when I get my business blog back up (coming soon) would you talk about this on it?

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      9 years ago

      I LOVE this lens and I love what you are doing. I know that when they make necklaces with more expensive beads, they only get government cheese for their work because much of the fee goes to pay for materials.

      ***** to the lens and many many more to you for your good business sense and your heart.

      This will be posted in Margo's Squidoo library lens Main Branch and Business Branch and lensrolled on Peyote beads. I am also featuring you there.

      Did I say that I liked your lens and what you are doing?


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