What would you do with colourful strips of paper? You may admire the hues but ultimately will throw it away as trash. Devi Chand, founder, PaperMelon will never do this. She would immediately think about crafting paper beads. She who daydreams of doodles, handcrafts, and converts everyday material into exciting wearable pieces of art. Devi, an accessory designer, makes striking paper jewellery from newspapers, paper bags, gift wraps, calendars, pamphlets, and magazines.
Reading superlatives in a row could be tedious. However, when you skim through testimonials for Devi’s paper jewellery you agree that the praise is well deserved. Exquisite is the word that captures the gorgeousness of her creations. It is amazing to witness how she deftly transforms paper into colourful beads, gathers them on a string, and creates astonishing pieces of jewellery.
As a child, Devi enjoyed making things and would often rummage her cartoonist dad’s dustbin for secret treasures. “I loved making Christmas tree decorations and so Santa from eggshells; glittery balls from candy wrappers and gift boxes from empty match boxes would adorn the Christmas tree,” she shares.
She graduated in Accessory Design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology specializing in bags and footwear. “For a project in costume jewellery I made a collection from recycled magazines, polythene covers and scrap wire, etc, and called it, ‘Nothing is Waste.’ This was the inspiration to create jewellery from recycled paper.”
Sketching the design is the first step. Devi jots the ideas in a sketch book and then searches for raw materials, brainstorms ideas for variations to see how best to blend the design and material. “Sometimes, I get attracted to a special paper, and the design process follows in reverse,” she explains. Paper bead making is a creative activity that requires perseverance and patience. It takes time to master the technique. The beads can be created in multiple shapes, including cylindrical, conical, and drum shaped. Devi considers handcrafting the beads as a meditative process.
After deciding the shape, strips are cut and rolled into beads on a toothpick. Next step involves applying one to three coats of varnish for water resistance. The beads are left to dry for a day followed by a last coat of varnish and last dry session before final assembling.
Devi finds inspiration from nature. “The idea for dragonfly earrings came up when I noticed a cluster of the dragon flies hanging out in my backyard. It was beautiful to watch, and I later sketched in my design pad. After a few days, I came across this multi-toned paper; I just knew it was perfect for my dragonflies,” she explains.
As a self-taught jewellery artist, she had to extensively research about tools, materials and techniques. It required months of practice before she got the right shape and quality of beads to develop the initial collections. Another challenge was to develop sturdy packaging to protect the jewellery from damage during transportation and also reflect the aesthetics of the brand. She developed strong cardboard boxes with a wooden texture.
Devi started her venture in 2009. The brand has evolved as an eco-conscious venture by making sustainable choices in product creation and business. Regarding the name Papermelon, Devi says she loves watermelon and therefore, combined it with her main ingredient—paper to capture the essence of her creations, fresh, organic, and cheerful.
Her favourite piece is the Jumbo Abacus Necklace. “The abacus pendant is made from tiny paper beads and is constructed in a way that they are free to move about, just like a real abacus. I love the mobility of this piece and the playfulness it brings along,” she shares. She is happy to contribute to eco-conscious fashion movement through paper, a sustainable and renewable resource.
Text by Nupur Roopa (Follow her on Instagram at @NupurRoopa23).