Style

How to Make Paper Beads

For a bracelet, a curtain, a shoelace, whatever.

While my main inspiration for this DIY was the not-so-wearable paper-clothing trend of the 1960s, these beads are anything but! You’d be surprised at how sturdy a strip of rolled-up paper can be! Add some lacquer over the top and you’ve got beads that’ll last you for a while. Make a few to use in some jewelry, or make a lot to string into bead curtains for your room! The choices are endless.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Paper! You can use just about any kind, so long as it’s sturdy: pages from old magazines, printouts from your computer, and vintage wrapping paper are a few options. For this tutorial I used some patterns that I printed off of my computer using standard printer paper (8.5” x 11”).
  • Ruler
  • Pencil (I wouldn’t suggest using pens, as they might run or make the paper look inky in some parts).
  • Wooden kebab skewers (you can find these at any grocery store).
  • Mod Podge or PVA glue
  • Scissors

Making the beads:

The first part of making the beads is measuring, drawing, and cutting your sheet of paper into skinny wedge shapes that are three centimeters thick on the fat end, and taper to a point.

1. Start by placing your paper pattern-side down and in “portrait” position (taller than wide). With your ruler, measure the two-centimeter point at the bottom-left corner, and mark it.

2. Place the ruler in the upper-left-hand corner and use it as a guide to draw a slanted line going from the upper-left-hand corner down to the two-centimeter mark that you made in the previous step.

3. Next, measure three centimeters away from the upper-left-hand corner of the page and mark it with your pencil.

4. Use your ruler again to draw another slant. This one will go from the three-centimeter mark in the upper-left-hand corner to the two-centimeter mark on the bottom-left-hand corner.

5. Now we’re back in the bottom-left-hand corner of the page. Measure and mark three centimeters away from the two-centimeter mark that you made in step one. So, this new mark is five centimeters from the left side of the page.

6. Draw yet another slant starting at the three-centimeter mark at the top of the page, extending down to the new three-centimeter mark on the bottom of the page.

7. Continue this measuring and marking process until you’ve filled the entire page.

8. This is what your paper should look like once you’ve filled it up. A standard-size piece of printer paper will make 12 beads. You might’ve noticed the two farthest sides of the paper are crossed out—that’s because these are the “end” pieces, and we won’t be using them for the bead-making process.

9. Cut out your bead pieces following the slanted lines.

Here’s what you should have once all of your paper strips (beads) are cut out.

The next stage will be rolling them! So they’ll actually look like beads and not just strips of paper…

1. Roll the wide edge of the paper strip over the kebab skewer.

2. Continue rolling the paper strip around the skewer, being sure to keep the paper taut and the sides even. My photo example is totally misleading; you’ll want to use both hands to do this.

3. Once you’re near the skinny end of the strip, paint a thin layer of glue onto the paper, and continue rolling.

4. Cover your bead in a heavy helping of either Mod Podge or clear nail polish and set it out to dry somewhere where it won’t get stuck on anything. I found that the most ideal way to dry the beads was to stick each one on its own skewer and stick the opposite end of the skewer into a piece of Styrofoam.

5. When the bead is dry, take it off the skewer. I would suggest twisting rather than pulling it off. Otherwise there’s a possibility that your bead might come unraveled.

Here’s what the finished product looks like! I covered mine in lots and lots of Mod Podge; I think I did at least four coats per bead. I want these babies to last foreverrrr!

Now that we’ve made a considerable amount of beads, let’s start crafting something out of them! I opted for a cuff bracelet this time around, just ’cause they’re simple to make and look wicked cool with very little effort.

Making the cuff bracelet:

You’ll need:

  • Jewelry elastic—I used an entire packet for my bracelet (a yard to a hard and a half).
  • Paper beads: 15-20 depending on how large your wrists are.
  • Tiny glass or plastic beads

1. Start off by folding your entire length of elastic in half, making sure the ends meet together. This will make a large loop.

2. Take one of the elastic ends (we’ll refer to this as end #1) and string a bead onto it.

3. Now take the other end of the elastic (end #2) and weave it through the opposite side of the same bead from the previous step.

4. Once you have both of the ends woven through each side of the bead, pull on them until the bead reaches the end of the loop, like so:

5. String a small bead on each end of the elastic so there’s a bead on either side of the paper bead.

6. Add another paper bead following the same technique you used in steps one and two.

7. Continue the beading process until the cuff reaches your desired length. When you’re finished, be sure to end with two small beads on either end.

8. To finish the bracelet, weave one end of the elastic through the very first bead you started with on the cuff. This would be the bead with the elastic loop on the side.

9. The two ends of elastic should now be on the same side of the cuff. Tie and double-knot these together.

And you’re done! ♦

31 Comments

  • Libby April 9th, 2012 3:09 PM

    This is so cute! I know what I’m doing tonight!

  • mayaautumn April 9th, 2012 3:10 PM

    woah this looks great….i really need to have a go at this, though i doubt it’ll look as good! i love the pattern/colours . yeaahhh:)

    http://cottonmixblog.blogspot.com

  • Maddy April 9th, 2012 3:11 PM

    hey! that looks awesome. the cuff instructions are useful too

  • whodatgal April 9th, 2012 3:17 PM

    Omigod this is so awesome. I love this and I’m so gonna do this. *First comment by the way* :D

    http://www.opheliahorton.wordpress.com

    • moonchild April 9th, 2012 6:01 PM

      I love how the only people that remark on the fact that they wrote the first comment are the people that didn’t actually write the first comment. :)

      haha jk i love you all.

      ~Gwennieeeee

      Also, I love the project! I actually just made a batch of these so coinkydink!

      http://under-a-bridge.blogspot.com/

  • whodatgal April 9th, 2012 3:17 PM

    ahh damn I’m not the first comment.

  • Jean April 9th, 2012 3:59 PM

    I love making paper beads! If you cut the paper at the start differently you can make different shapes of beads….

    http://www.tappi.org/paperu/images/beads5.gif

    I love making the one in the middle!

    Yours look better than mine do because I use newspaper which isn’t as interesting as pretty colours :(

  • miri April 9th, 2012 4:01 PM

    I love to make these out of old falling apart books. I have an old history textbook and alternate beads made from text pages with ones made from maps and pictures for some pops of color. Also did these with a worn harry potter book that i found at a yard sale

  • Susann April 9th, 2012 4:08 PM

    Such a great idea! It looks like fun to do and the result is so pretty and unique!

    http://fashioninpepperland.blogspot.com/

  • isabellehungryghost April 9th, 2012 4:14 PM

    so cute!

    http://therestlesswillstay.tumblr.com/

  • KinuKinu April 9th, 2012 5:14 PM

    SO CUTE!!!As soooon as I get home from my SUSHI outing me and my bestie(my sister) are going to make these :D Thanks Marlena :D

  • firstcomestherain April 9th, 2012 5:46 PM

    this is fantastic…I’ll definately try it out.

  • ladyjenna April 9th, 2012 6:05 PM

    Gotta get me some modge podge. Seems to be one of Rookie’s staples.

  • tallulahpond April 9th, 2012 6:29 PM

    Totally doing this! It kind of reminds me of Cady’s bracelet in Mean Girls (ohmigod Mean Girls) but it’s way better than hers. Love it!

  • MissKnowItAll April 9th, 2012 6:41 PM

    Today I saw a girl on the train who had her whole arm covered in these. I literally jumped on her and asked her how she made them.

  • plainjane April 9th, 2012 7:01 PM

    haha, i thought this said paper BEARDS… and i was thinking, jeez, how are they gonna pull this one off? :D

  • waesome April 9th, 2012 7:01 PM

    These are really cute, I’m gonna make some from newsprint or poems or quotes or something. In cool fonts!
    Also, yay, today [9th April)’s Gerard Way’s birthday.
    (Go look him up, he’s awesome!)

  • Adrienne April 9th, 2012 9:26 PM

    This is absolutely brilliant! I am so going to do this.. :) I love how that bracelet looks!

    http://theaverageasiangirl.blogspot.com

  • neon_rattail April 9th, 2012 9:33 PM

    This looks so good! I used to have a crafty toy that made paper beads in the 90s which I totally forgot about until I read this. I think it’s time to bring my paper bead making skills back out!
    xoxo
    Michelle

    http://neonrattail.blogspot.com

  • nutellacube April 10th, 2012 12:05 AM

    so good

    http://pennilesszen.blogspot.com

  • ponygrrrl April 10th, 2012 2:32 AM

    MARLENA YOU ARE SRZLY A GODDESSSSSSS!!!!!! I LOVE YOU SO HARD

  • Lulli April 10th, 2012 3:39 AM

    These are so cute! My friend makes beads out of clay! they’re so cool:)

  • farrawoy April 10th, 2012 7:16 AM

    i used to do this in my art class when i was in the 4th grade

  • ruby April 10th, 2012 10:25 AM

    just made 16 of these from old magazine covers!! am waiting for them to dry (:

  • FancySquirrel April 10th, 2012 11:21 AM

    Sooo cute!! ♥

  • Daphnee April 10th, 2012 4:11 PM

    I gotta say my no1 favorite DIY project were the glitter shoes. Untill now!

  • VictoryBelle April 10th, 2012 8:01 PM

    I’ve noticed you use modpodge in quite a lot of stuff, I cant seem to find any in the UK. Can you think of any UK equivalents?

    • VictoryBelle April 10th, 2012 8:04 PM

      actually ignore that just found some on amazon

  • Besu April 11th, 2012 4:14 PM

    This is so great and the finished product looks fab!
    http://bethandbesu.wordpress.com/

  • Dorthea April 13th, 2012 12:07 AM

    I was wondering if you could ever do a little diy on 50s style housewife headband things similar to the ones from the most recent Marc Jacobs collection. Maybe with decorations because I know they should be real simple
    http://www.marcjacobs.com/marc-jacobs/womens/xw41210724/radzimir-head-wrap#?p=2&s=3

  • Selle April 20th, 2012 2:49 PM

    I made these when I was in the fifth grade, strung them on a necklace and got people asking where I got the awesome “shell” necklacce from! I still have it to this day :D