Introduction: Durable Handmade Paper Beads

Picture of Durable Handmade Paper Beads

I write an environmental blog and I love creating things. With this in mind I set about making beautiful jewelry upcycled from the recycle bin. I made aluminum can rings and recycled glass earrings and pendants. I also made cool beads created from used plastic bottles and beads crafted from old paper. In this instructable I'll show you how to make awesome, durable paper beads from scratch (paper). They're just about free, look great and work in almost for any beaded jewelry project. Have fun!

My environmental blog:

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Skewer or other round form to make the bead holes
Glue (this is just for tacking the paper, so use what you have - a glue stick is fine)
Metal ruler, xacto knife, pencil are all optional
Pledge or Future acrylic floor polish
Heat gun - optional


Small paintbrush

A piece of old packing styrofoam

You can use any kind of paper. It's particularly fun to save old wrapping paper, paper bags from a trip or other papers that remind you of a special time. That being said, I often use old newspaper, magazines and catalogs.

Step 2: Cut Paper Strips

Picture of Cut Paper Strips

The shape of the paper strip determines the shape of the final bead. Straight strips make cylinders. Angled cuts make diamonds and ovals. Experiment with different cuts to see what you like.

The length of the strip determines the thickness of the final bead. The longer the strip, the thicker the bead.

To start, cut strips at least 1 foot long and 1/2 inch wide. Use either scissors or an xacto knife and straight edge. Roll one and see how it looks. Measurements are different for different papers.

When you have the right size, cut the rest.

1 strip = 1 bead

Step 3: Roll the Strips

Picture of Roll the Strips

I love this part. It's when the paper becomes a bead and you first see the patterns the papers make.

Roll the strips of paper onto a bamboo or metal skewer and fix the end with a dab of glue stick glue. You may need to hold for a few seconds until the glue sets.

Don't roll too tight or you won't be able to remove the bead.

When the glue is set, gently remove the bead. Reshape if necessary.

(Skewers work fine, but if you're going to make a lot of beads, you can get a rolling tool. They're inexpensive and make the rolling much faster.)

Step 4: Stabilize the Beads

Picture of Stabilize the Beads

Brush each bead with the floor polish and set on a toothpick to dry. Wait for the polish to dry completely and add a second coat. Repeat until you have 4 or more coats and are happy with the finish. I like to brush the inside with one thin coat if possible to add water resistance.

Heat will speed up the drying times. I use a heat gun, but only dry one bead at a time and I make sure not to overheat the paper.

Step 5: Use the Beads

Picture of Use the Beads

Use these beads like you would any other beads. Here are a few notes on these handmade paper beads:

They make great earrings because they're so light.

Some papers may change color with age, but will still be strong.

They generally have fairly large holes, so you can experiment with thick cord, ribbon, etc.

If you want to learn simple bead stringing see my beaded bracelet instructable.

Have fun!!

Step 6: More Ideas

Picture of More Ideas

Try adding:


recycled glass

wood beads

rubber cord



inks & dyes



glendat1155 (author)2016-04-10

I love paper beads. Thanks

Thanks! : )

Thank You!!

VonT5 (author)2016-01-05



qpig (author)2015-12-19

Hi! I have just received a "GREEN CREATIVITY - Recycled Paper Beads Tool" from Amazon! I can screw onto a 2-liter bottle or you can attach the enclosed handle. You fit the paper strip into the little prong looking thing & turn the handle, add a bit of glue on the end of the strip, turn a bit more & WALLA! your bead is done! (There's a little opening that if it's attached to the bottle,) you just take it off the prong thing & drop it in the bottle!! Now, thanks to you, I can make beads that can stand the test of time!! Thanks!!

Simran Sharma (author)2015-12-10


bobbiemom (author)2015-08-19

I prefer to make a finish on my paper beads with Mod Podge, thinned with water. I place each bead on a toothpick, paint on the thinned Mod Podge with a small paint brush or make-up brush, and stick the end of the toothpick into a piece of styrofoam to dry. A second coat is usually enough.

Yes, you're right, Mod Podge works well and is easier to manage. I definitely recommend it when working with kids. It's just not quite as shiny as the acrylic polish. Thanks for the input!!

paulajablonkabinder (author)2015-05-13

Love your easy method, I'm making some now!

I'll try to post after they have a few coats of future dried,

The photos are reversed, first necklace, bowl of completed beads, beads drying in styrofoam block.

These came out beautifully!! They're really perfect. I'm so glad you shared them. Thank You!!

Awesome! Can I see when you're done ? : )

doniseg (author)2015-02-22

hi,i'm making beads right now, i love yours,thank you for your kindness an sharing,feb 22,2015 11pm ,love donise god bless you amen

Thank you! I hope you're having fun making the beads. I'd love to see them when your done. Have a great week!

doniseg (author)2015-02-22

hi,i'm making beads right now, i love yours,thank you for your kindness an sharing,feb 22,2015 11pm ,love donise god bless you amen

claudia.tanseer.9 (author)2015-01-07

Paperbeads are great...they can be ethnic, baroque, contemporary in designs. They can duplicate almost any other bead type as a means of complementing sophisticated even luxurious and expensive beads or they can appear contemporary and artistic in emphasis where the open display of inexpensive materials is rendered irrelevant because they are simple modern works of art

Yes! Thanks for putting this so beautifully!

Rhonda Chase Design (author)2014-08-30

I see them on Amazon. Thanks!

BobbieJ2 (author)2014-08-30

I found this great company, Rethought Expressions, that sells pre-cut beading strips. They repurposed wallpaper to make them. I made the most beautiful beads ever out of these strips. The paper is thicker so I didn't have to uses as much which gave me a less bulky bead.

This sounds great! Do they have a website? I looked them up and only found a reseller. Thanks!

I don't know if they have a website. I found them on Amazon.

Rhonda Chase Design (author)2014-03-17

Glad to hear it! I remember doing something like this too, but I have much better glue now : )

vcookston (author)2014-03-17

When I was in 4th grade (1966!), we made these beads in Art. I believe that the glue of choice was the nasty white stuff that came in a big plastic jar. I still have the ones I made for my mom. Good memories, thanks!

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-27

Here. I just haven't glossed them yet. I figured I'd do a bunch & then gloss them all at once.

These look terrific! Thanks so much for posting these fine examples!

sunshiine (author)2014-02-27

My daughter loves making paper beads. I will share this with her. Thanks for sharing your hard work and do have a splendorous day!


JoLoveN (author)2014-02-13

It's bad that I've been working in these for at least 3hrs & this is all I got. Just gotta get the paper cut. :-)

That's a while, but they look good!

I finally got sum more beads done. My fingers feel like they're gunna be blistered. I order a thing from Amazon, is should be here by next week. But wanna show you the few beads I've got done.

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-14

I just realized you have a tool to wrap ur beads. Can u tell me what it's called & where u got it? Where I have carpal tunnel I'm having a lot of trouble trying to hold everything & get the rolling started. Need anything that will make it easier.

It's from Fire Mountain Gems. Here's the product code:
Item Number: H20-3444TL

Thanks. The chopstick aren't the ones that are thin on bottom & get fatter at the top. They are just round ones. Been using toothpicks & wooden skewers. It just my stupid hands don't wanna work. Gotta get the surgery done ASAP. Tired of hurting, not being about to do stuff & dropping everything. Worse part is waking up feeling like my hand & arm is on fire. Rude awakening!!!
But I'll look that up & try to buy one. Thanks for teaching me & helping me so much! ?

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-12

Never mind. I'm using the Bona but it's not really glossy. It supposed to be but it's not. So I'm going to use clear coat varnish & clear spray paint. Hope it works.

Well, at least it sounds like you're having fun! Sometimes I just tear the paper - So don't worry about neatness. Do try to roll on something straight though. Not too sure about chopsticks : )

Let me know how it goes!

I'm having a hard time just getting the magazine cut. I don't have a ruler & a decent place to do this.... So that's making it harder! Lol! Think I'm just making a paper mess. Hehe. When you use a magazine do you cut from top to bottom or side to side? I'm trying to do top to bottom & cut a few piece at a time but the pieces aren't really coming out too even. My scissors aren't sharp enough to cut thru the whole thing at once. It's not a thing mag. I tried using a box cutter but that made a huger mess. Where I have carpal tunnel my right hand keeps going numb & I can't grip the scissors. I might see if I can get a friend to do the cutting for me. I've made 4 beads. The 1st 1 I was just testing & used a piece off a Slim Jim box & rolled it around a chop stick. It looks sooo funny. Let me take a pic & show you. I have glossed the small ones yet. Gunna do em all at once.

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-11

Can u tell me the ingredients in the pledge u use?

Rhonda Chase Design (author)2014-02-11

Sorry, I really don't know if these products have the same formulations as the ones I mentioned.

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-10

Or would mop & glow work?

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-10

My friend works at Lowe's & he told me to look on to find what I need. But I can't find it. Could you look on at zip 37876 & find a product number for me? I'm going nuts trying to find it or sumting else like it. Or even sumting that would work.

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-10

Tell me if this stuff would work.

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-10

Can u take a pic of the floor polish & post it so I can see exactly what it is? Or can you email me a pic of it? Here my email-

After I get some made, I might take pics & show you. Maybe. Lol. Hehe. Jk.

But have you ever used any kind of plastic to make beads? Say like a chip bag or maybe the cheap bags of cereal you can buy in bulk? If you could get it to work you wouldn't have to used the polish. Just heat it up enough to make it seal to keep it from unrolling.

Oh & BTW- you have a misspell on the Instructable. Where you list the things you need. You put future polish. Just letting you know. Plus the pics & instructions are really far apart.

Here you go:
Here's a pic of the Pledge. I don't have Future - it's a regional thing, which product you can get.
I've made recycled beads out of plastic bottles, but that's for another instructable.
Got to get to work now. Have a great week!

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-09

Ok. Thanks. Have u ever used clear nail polish?

Not yet. Though I'm not sure it's as durable as some of the other choices. Let me know if you try it and how well it works. Thanks!

JoLoveN (author)2014-02-08

Is there anything besides floor polish you can use to seal them?

There are lots of varnish choices from shellac to acrylic polymers. You can use anything that won't turn the paper to mush and will dry waterproof. Just test a sample bead before sealing a whole batch. I like the floor polish because it is cheap, durable, dries shiny and is basically non toxic.

Do u think clear fingernail Polish would work?

About This Instructable




Bio: Geeky artist with too many pets. Details & blog at:
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