Durable Handmade Paper Beads





Introduction: 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!

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

Try adding:


recycled glass

wood beads

rubber cord



inks & dyes




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    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!!

    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!!