This Eye-Catching Jewelry and Home Decor Is Made From Upcycled Paper Beads

Devi Chand of Papermelon is a big fan of sustainable, recyclable materials.

Sunday comics necklace
Necklace made from the Sunday comics.


You will never look at paper scraps in quite the same way after seeing the art that Devi Chand makes. Chand is the owner of Papermelon, a company that makes eye-catching jewelry and home decor using upcycled newspapers, magazines, storybooks, gift wrap, calendars, and pamphlets. 

All of the pieces start with the same paper beads, made from strips of paper that are tightly rolled into perfectly shaped beads, coated with three coats of a water-resistant sealant to ensure longevity, and then sun-dried on Chand's balcony in Chennai, India. Then they are used to create beautiful pieces, such as cascading necklaces, layered earrings, playful clocks, paper flower bouquets, and hanging wall art.

The pieces are utterly unlike anything else you'll see in a jewelry or home decor store. The paper gives a warm texture that makes you want to touch it, and because of its upcycled source, each piece is unique; you never know exactly what you're going to get.

classic newspaper bracelet
Classic newspaper bracelet.


Chand, who attended the National Institute of Fashion Technology, said she loves creating in her little home studio once her child has left for school in the mornings. "I craft so that I don’t have to do other boring things," her bio states. Papermelon was created in 2009 when she grew disillusioned with corporate design life and realized she needed to start her own project.

"When I started out, all I had was an enthusiastic me and a colourful stash of paper, thanks to my design education. During one of my experiments, I made my first paper bead by rolling a paper strip over a tooth pick. I loved how unusual and delicate it looked (also messy!). That was the first of the many, many hours I spend making paper beads, perfecting the art, and experimenting to make them durable."

In an email to Treehugger, Chand delves deeper into describing her passion for paper and the fact that it can be upcycled from so many diverse sources:

"I love paper more than every other medium. I love that it is so humble yet so versatile... I look for paper in daily life—newspapers, magazines, paper bags, etc. I find it more challenging yet meaningful to create with what we already have. This probably came from my childhood habits. We were encouraged to make our own toys rather than purchase them from a store. I would happily pick up the gift wrap after a birthday party. After a wedding, I would pick up leftover paper bags, extra invitation cards, anything that's paper. My friends and neighbors soon picked up my habit and started collecting papers and passing them to me. And that's how I have been fueling my small business!" (edited for clarity)

Everything is done by hand, without the aid of machinery. Chand says that, while the finished beads have a perfect shape, there's still an aspect of surprise to the process. "I work with papers that have irregular designs and colors, so it’s hard to predict the patterns the beads will decide to have," says Chand. "So when they are finished, I’m as surprised as anybody else. And I love that suspense."

She told The Humming Notes that bead-making requires patience and perseverance. They can be made in a range of shapes, from conical to cylindrical to drum-shaped, and she views the process as meditative.

rainbow wall clock
Rainbow Wall Clock.


The items come packaged in handmade paper boxes, sourced from local suppliers, and padded with recycled crinkled paper. Additional jewelry elements, like beads, cords, and silver hooks come from local, home-run businesses. Chand tells Treehugger, "The tailoring shop downstairs is a wonderful source of scrap fabric for the fabric bows we tie on every package." She adheres to a zero-waste policy in her studio and uses minimal energy. Her self-constructed light box, set on her balcony and used to photograph pieces, is one example of this.

You can see the Papermelon collections here.