tutorial - eco-friendly upcycled paper beads

Today's eco-friendly upcycled paper bead tutorial is brought to you by Christine of A Single Dream.

Making handmade paper beads is really fun and simple, as well as eco-friendly.  What better way is there to repurpose those pretty, glossy magazines than to make them into something lovely to wear?  Believe me, once you get started with this, you will find yourself picking up magazines and searching for paper that will make pretty beads.  It’s addictive!


·      Pretty Magazine Pages
·      Glue – Elmers School Glue works great!
·      Round toothpicks
·      Paper Cutter (or ruler if you are using scissors to cut the strips!)
·      Something to stand the beads up to dry – this is a great way to recycle a piece of packing Styrofoam!
·      Scissors
·      Something to seal the beads with – My favorite is Mod Podge Gloss
·      Paint brush


To start, you will need to find magazine pages –Don’t worry about words; for the most part, they won’t show in the finished beads.
2.   You can use the entire length of the page, or cut the page in half.  This makes a lot more beads and is easier to work with, starting out.  
3.   Trim off the ripped edge of the page so that you are working with straight edges.
4.   Time to cut your triangles!  You can mark the page, on the back, so that you know where to cut, but I find it just as easy to find a line on my paper cutter and use it as a guide.  Line up the corner of the page to the width you want your beads to be, angling the paper so that the tip (on the same edge) meets the cutting line.  This will create a long, triangular shape. 
5.   Adjust the page so that the widest part of the triangle will be now be formed on the opposite side.  Continue to cut, shifting the paper back and forth to create even triangles.  If you use the entire page, you’ll have quite a few triangular strips.

6.   Now comes the fun part!  Hold the wide end of the triangle against the toothpick and begin to gently roll the paper.  Stop when the paper is about half way rolled, and add a dab of glue to hold it securely, then roll to the end adding another dab of glue to secure the tip of the paper.  Roll the bead between your fingers to make sure that all of the edges are lying flat.
You have a bead!
7.   Stab the toothpick into your Styrofoam and allow them to dry.  Give it about an hour or so.  Leave some room between them so they don’t bump into each other.
8.   Trim any jagged ends with scissors.

9.   Now you’re ready to glaze.  Paint on a liberal amount of Mod Podge Gloss with a paint brush.  You can do this while they’re still in the Styrofoam, if you’ve left enough room, or you can remove the toothpick and gloss each bead individually.  Just be sure that you coat all sides, adding a second coat, if desired, to ensure a good seal.    (Note: Beads will be somewhat water resistant, but will not be waterproof!)

10   When the beads are dry – give it a couple of hours! – remove them gently from the toothpicks and string them for a pretty bracelet or necklace.  Several strands of paper beads look awesome together.


·      You can use any kind of paper to create your beads – junk mail, security envelopes, scrapbooking paper -- but thinner paper works best.  Heavier, scrapbooking paper can make pretty beads, but it’s harder to roll and easier to rip.  Construction paper and card stock doesn’t work well with this project. 

·      If you’re doing this project with kids, have them draw crazy designs on a piece of printer paper.  They’ll love seeing their funky colors turned into their own beads.  (Please don’t allow children to use the paper cutter unattended!)

·      You can use scissors to cut, but it’s a much more tedious project – it’s a lot of cutting!-- and your edges, potentially, won’t be as clean.

·      You can use a white glue pen or a toothpick to add the dabs of glue.

·      After you’ve applied the sealing coat to the beads, they may stick to the toothpicks.  If this happens, turn them gently to release before pulling them off the toothpick.

·      If you love making paper beads and want to make more, I would recommend buying a bead roller to make the process easier.  The end of the bead roller has a slot to secure the end of the paper, making the process faster and easier.

·      The beads on this bracelet were made with straight strips of paper, rather than triangles! You can find a variety of templates with different shape variations online.  Experiment, and have fun!

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