Project: Rainbow Garland

Create beautiful three-dimensional leaves with folded paper. It's simple, quick and effective. By Karen Caine


When Karen thinks of colour, her mind fills with images of vibrant fiestas and carnivals, of Indian markets with richly coloured spices and garlands of flowers, of a world painted in vivid hues. In short, a world swathed in a rainbow garland. So, for this colour-themed issue, Karen has turned to acrylic paint and paper to create a bold, pigment-drenched manifestation of her inner notions of colour.


  • A4 sheet of paper
  • Paverpol
  • Paint (optional)
  • Superglue
  • 1mm (18 gauge) wire for the links
  • 0.6mm (22 gauge) wire for the twining vines
  • 6mm beads
  • 4mm beads
  • 1mm ratail cords
  • Cord ends
  • Clasp


  • Heavyweight art paper was painted with acrylics for this project, with good results, but any paper will do. If you don’t want to paint it yourself, you could use wallpaper or pop in to your local art and craft store for some coloured paper.
  • If you can’t get hold of Paverpol, you could try watered-down PVA glue. This will have a similar effect, but the coating will yellow over time, so it’s only appropriate if you don’t plan to keep the jewellery for a long time. 
  • For an alternate look, try making leaves of different sizes and adding stamped-on textures. You could also add highlights using glitter or metallic inks. If you’re feeling adventurous, try creating this form in metal using fold-forming techniques.



Cut your paper into squares, then cut across the diagonal to create two triangles. Take one triangle and flip it onto its back and score six lines across it (or mark with a pencil if you’re using thin paper). The lines should be equal distances apart and run parallel to the longest side. Fold along the longest line, bending the paper up so that its edge comes to rest along the second line you scored.



Continue folding the triangle. Once you have folded along all the lines, hold the mid-point of the triangle in the jaws of the round nose pliers (this is the point where they have the same diameter as the bead you plan to use in the middle of the leaf). Bring the corners of the longest edge towards one another to form a leaf shape. Don’t worry if the corners don’t meet exactly. Stick the edges together with superglue.



Brush a thin layer of Paverpol onto your leaf. This will stiffen the paper and give it a waterproof coating. The Paverpol goes on white, but dries transparent (just don’t leave pools of it between the folds). Once the Paverpol has dried, you can either add a second coat to stiffen the paper further or immediately glue a bead into the hole in the leaf, making sure that the hole is facing the front.



Once you’ve made all the leaves, lay them out according to your design, then create a skeleton of links and lay it alongside. This link system enables you to perfectly position the leaves relative to one another, but forms a necklace that is flexible enough to wear. Try to plan it so that there are two or three leaves to each link with the loops at the ends hidden behind the widest parts of the leaves.



Hammer the loops on all the links using a nylon or rawhide mallet but avoid hitting the parts where the wires cross. This will prevent them from pulling open too easily on the finished piece. Once you have finished work hardening the links’ loops, you can begin adding leaves to each of the individual links. Start with the group of three in the middle because it connects all three strands of our Y-shaped necklace together.



Thread the thinner wire through one of the end loops of the link and then twine it around the rest of the link like a creeping vine before passing it through the loop at the other end. Thread a leaf onto the projecting wire and press it against the link. Then create a decorative swirl on the front of the leaf to hold it in place. Repeat with a second leaf at the other end of the link.



Twine a second thin wire around the middle of the link and add the third leaf in the same way as the others: by pressing it hard against the middle loop and securing it with a decorative swirl. Add berry-like beads to the other end of the wire. If you wish, you can fix the decorative swirls in position with glue. This will prevent tangling issues and make the design more robust, but will reduce movement in the piece.



Here’s what the link looks like from the back. You can now repeat this process with all the other leaves in your design, using two twining wires where you have a group of three leaves and one set of berries and just one twining wire where you have only two leaves. As you progress, make sure you check
how the leaves on the link you’re creating sit alongside those you have already made.



Once you have completed all the links with leaves, lay them out again according to your original design. Simply twist open the loops on the links and assemble the final piece. This necklace was finished with colour-coordinated strands of cord (using temporary sticky tape to keep the ends gathered while we pushed them into the cord end), but you can use matching beads or a traditional chain if you wish.


Make earrings and rings



Thread the twining wire through the leaf and make a decorative swirl at the front as usual. String some small beads on the wire where it emerges at the back. Push them tight and fix them in place with a closed loop. Bend the wire upright and attach an ear wire.



Make a three-loop link like the one shown in Step 5 that’s long enough to circle around your finger when straight. Twine some thin wire around the middle. Punch holes in the upright triangles at the top of three leaves and thread them on to one end of the twine. Spiral the twine to fix them in place. Add beads to the other end of the twine.




Laurel Guilfoyle, Karen Caine

Article Details

  • Date 10th March 2017
  • Tags Project
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