Depression Bead Demonstration

As part of the Beaufort Historical Association’s Living History series, Gigi Koehler will conduct a depression bead demonstration on Saturday, August 15th from 1:00-3:00 pm in the Beaufort Historic Site’s Welcome Center, 130 Turner Street.

Depression Beads3

Ms. Koehler will demonstrate the way depression beads are made out of rolled paper, and then strung together to create unique necklaces and bracelets.  Although they originated during the Victorian Era, the beads got their name because women and girls during the Great Depression made jewelry out of paper instead of purchasing more costly items.  Despite the inexpensive source, the paper beads added a vibrant pop of color to the wearer.

The beauty of a depression bead relies on the type of paper used, as different colored and patterned paper create different variations in the design. After paper is chosen, the bead maker cuts it into a shape depending on what type of bead is desired.  It is rolled around a sewing needle, creating a tightly wound bead with a hole in the middle.  Finally, the end of the paper is glued to the bead and varnished – a process that takes 2-3 days.  Beads can vary from 1 to 2 centimeters in length and .5 to 1.5 centimeters in width.

All are invited to observe the depression bead demonstration, admission is free. For those with further interest, the Living History Series will offer a depression bead workshop at 10 am on Saturday, August 20. The workshop is limited to 8 adults and children 10 years and up with a materials fee of $25. Ms. Koehler will incorporate the skills learned through the demonstration in a one-on-one interactive workshop where participants will enjoy the chance to create a piece of depression bead jewelry. For information on this and other Living History Programs, stop by the Beaufort Historical Association Welcome Center at 130 Turner Street, call 252-728-5225 or 800-575-7483, or visit