Introduction: Wavy Cut Paper Bead How-To

Picture of Wavy Cut Paper Bead How-To

I love making paper beads for use on my art dolls and for jewelry. I found that zig zag blade on my paper cutter makes beads that look wonderful. The colorful ones are like diminutive mosaics, while the monochrome make me think of snakeskin.
Using glue stick gives a soft, squishy bead, but using a combination of archival paste and glue stick just for the tips gives a solid bead reminiscent of paper mache.
It's addictive - and a fantastic way of using all those junk mail catalogs.

Step 1: Cut Your

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Choose a page where the images and color reach the edge of the pages, unless of course you want white beads.
Cut wedges shapes alternating the widest point between the top of the page and the bottom of your sheet. You can cut lengthwise or widthwise - lengthwise gives a slightly fatter bead. I usually make the widest part 1-1.5 inches.

Step 2: Colorful Pieces

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Step 3: Rolling

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Start to roll from the widest end. Some people have success using a round toothpick, but I don't bother with that. I need a hole wide enough to accommodate yarn most of the time, and I have found no trouble making beads with a very small wire sized hole just by hand.

Step 4: Archival Paste

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I like a small flat stiff bristled brush since the paste glue is..well, paste.

Step 5: Glue the Strip

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I leave a tail of between 6 and 8 inches and paint on the glue thinly.

Step 6: Gluestick the Tail

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I use glue stick, which is tackier than wet paste, on the last 2 inches of the tail. This prevents the tip from lifting as the paste dries slowly.

Step 7: Continue to Roll

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Finish rolling the bead.

Step 8: Seal the Glue

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I find that running the completed bead back and forth between my palms and fingers really seals the edges and begins the drying process. My hands get mucky, but that is easily solved with a wet wipe or nearby moist facecloth kept nearby. Also watch out for you glue brush drying out and hardening. I stick mine in water between beads.

Step 9: Here They Are.

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Step 10:

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suayres (author)2012-04-16

Oh, my goodness! The wavy edge really elevates your beads several levels!

dezignarob (author)suayres2012-04-16

Thank you. I agree, and it takes no longer to cut with some kind of wavy edge blade or pinkers than with regular blades.

Fiona White (author)2016-04-24

Can't wait to make these - they look so beautiful. Thank you for such clear and appealing instructions.

doniseg (author)2015-02-13

wow.this is a darling idea.its like wavey lace.on a pretty dress.thanks for sharing your great fun idea. you have inspired me very always donise feb 13,2015

quantumpink (author)2011-11-21

I had really good luck using mod podge. It is slightly water resistant so soaking it would destroy it but it won't get messed up if water splashes on it when washing your hands.

maikaew (author)2011-10-27

So clever and cool!

Time4Me (author)2011-09-12

Thanks for the wavy cut idea. I've been using just a little school glue (like Elmer's) once I get the rolling started. I usually don't use anything to roll them on because I find it easier to tighten the paper when I can hold the bead between my finger and thumb. After I get a bunch of beads made I stick a toothpick through one end and then into a piece of styrofoam to hold them while I give them a swipe of Modge Podge using a brush. Someone had given me the matte finish, so that's what I've used, but there is also a glossy. The beads harden nicely after they dry, but I still plan to use an acrylic as a last coat to give a little more protection. Someone gave me a couple packages of scrapbooking paper and it makes great beads - nice weight. Also, since many of the packages have a theme or color scheme, it's a good way to make beads that mix and match.

mbranwen (author)2011-06-02

Thank you for these instructions. This will be my very first time doing anything like looks fun!!!!

dezignarob (author)mbranwen2011-06-02

It is fun. Good luck with them.

MJMATHOT (author)2011-03-30

They look great, I will try the wave cutter tonight. I made paperbeads last week with shiny wallpaper, they looked like shells. I used a gluestick only for the end part and painted them with transparant nail varnish, to protect them. In the end the beads didn't look like paper at all. On top of that I started with silverwire, then around the beads and a loop at the end. Is worth trying.

dezignarob (author)MJMATHOT2011-06-02

Sounds very pretty.

kplaisance (author)2011-03-30

I recently found a necklace my sister in law made for me back in the late 70's. I was so happy to find it, made from rolled paper beads! Oddly enough, I stumbled on to your instructable just a week later! Guess what I'm doing this weekend! =) Thanks, they are so pretty!

crazyaboutbeads (author)2010-09-28

You use a wire to wrap it around?

I don't wrap them around anything, just themselves, but I have heard of other people using toothpicks, skewers, even knitting needles, so I guess wire would work fine. I guess if your end use demanded high consistency wrapping around something would be important. It's more than I need to worry about. As for whether wrapping around something makes it faster, we'll have to take input on that. Lately I've been upping the quality of my paper beads by wrapping around their widest middle with varieagated craft threads, and even beading onto the threads. Also I've been winding jewelry/craft wire around some, also with seed beads threaded on to the wire to make fancy beads. Pics on my blog

Robin E (author)2010-09-19

I keep a small amount of cornstarch in a bowl and just get rid of the stickiness temporarily so I am not dealing with damp or sticky hands. Save the clean-up for later, once I am done for this creative session. Works great.

craftyrn1959 (author)2010-04-11

Is yes glue the same as modge podge?
Very nice instructable!

dezignarob (author)craftyrn19592010-04-12

No, although both work. Actually since following a suggestion here, I've been using modge podge on my beads and it works just fine - although it does need  sealing.
Yes Paste is an archival glue paste for paper and other materials. It's a lot thicker than modge podge, which is an acrylic medium.

Silver Buttons (author)2010-04-01

They look so pretty, filling up a basket. =D

cocoisa (author)2010-03-08

Hola: Me encanto la idea Tengo un monton de catalogos y revistas las voy a
aprovechar. Muchas gracias.

imaluma (author)2009-04-19

Is that Yes paste? I love that stuff! It smells so good!

paperclip32 (author)imaluma2010-03-08


kcls (author)2010-03-07

One of the other paper bead 'ible's say to spray glossy varnish on them once the glue dries, to hold them together better. do you recommend this?

dezignarob (author)kcls2010-03-07

I would recommend some kind of sealer for several reasons. It prevents mod podge (if used) from becoming sticky; it retains the colors in the paper which I have noticed will fade otherwise or sometimes smudge; it makes the beads more solid.

I have been painting on Future Floor Wax, an inexpensive acrylic sealer. But I see no reason why a spray varnish wouldn't work just as well if you turn the beads to spray all over. Worth trying if you can afford the spray.

mahonia (author)2010-02-22

Thank you for the simplicity, that is usually a bit more comprehensive.

Sshebba (author)2009-08-08

Very beautiful beads! What is "Archival Paste/Glue" and what type of store do you purchase it from? I've never heard of it before.

muberblob (author)Sshebba2010-02-08

buy it at micheals

dezignarob (author)Sshebba2009-08-08

I use a brand called "Yes". It is available at art supply stores (like Graphaids), including online, and at scrapbooking stores. It might be at your local craft store depending on how comprehensive the art supply section is, and at your local Aaron Brothers frame store. It is the paste glue that makes the beads very solid and hard. That might be excess to your needs, and a glue stick would be sufficient. Archival paste is cool because it is acid free so helps to preserve the paper, and it reduces wrinkling. A little goes a very long way, so even though it seems to be expensive by the pot, it becomes very economical by the project.

MaryOfExeter (author)2009-11-20

I love making these :) I hadn't thought about making them wavy, thanks!
For mine, I just mod podge as my paste. Once rolled up, I put a coat of it on the ouside of the bead. Then, once that dries, spray with clear acrylic. Makes them durable and the acrylic makes it waterproof :)

dezignarob (author)MaryOfExeter2009-11-20

The acrylic sealer is important with mod podge to make sure the bead doesn't get tacky and stick to other paper surfaces. My question is how solid are the beads made with mod podge. I mean do they flatten easily (as glue stick beads will) or not? I'm liking the idea of using mod podge as it is probably less expensive than Yes paste.
Check my blog next week, after Thanksgiving in the US, for some pictures of some very fancy paper beads I made for a round robin doll, with varigated embroidery thread and glass bead embellishments.

wildginger13 (author)dezignarob2010-02-01

There is also 'outdoor' Mod Podge. It seals from moisture. We just started  this project in our after-school programs. Silly teens are too busy flirting though. Hopefully we'll get enough done to make some cool necklaces. Thanks.

MaryOfExeter (author)dezignarob2009-11-20

Mine seemed to hold up pretty good with the mod podge. I put some pressure on them and they wouldn't budge.

I'll be sure to check out those pictures once Thanksgiving is over with. Sounds neat!

rjscheergirl (author)2009-10-14

WOW! you're very good at these, i have a younger sister who's only 10and I would like make these with her. Do you think she could handle it?

dezignarob (author)rjscheergirl2009-10-14

That depends on your sister. My 9yo daughter will sometimes make thesewith me. She has the fine motor dexterity to be able to roll small beadseasily. But after a while she gets bored. She doesn't seem to enjoy therepetitive meditative quality to the task as much as I do.

If tiny rolling isn't her thing, perhaps your sister would enjoy cuttingthe strips for you. You could make a big batch of strips for later rolling.

My dd likes running her hands through a bowl of them, and also makesearrings. I think she would like to make jewelry from the beads. Perhapsyour sister would prefer that part of it.

jumpertoad (author)2009-10-11

i cant seem to cut correctly

dezignarob (author)jumpertoad2009-10-11

I'm not sure what you mean by "correctly".

However it might be that your blade is not sharp enough?

I use a sliding cutter, the kind that is sold for scrapbooking work, with interchangeable blades. Once the blade gets a bit blunt, the whole thing is much harder.

It's not an exact science!

ANTQNUT (author)2009-07-31

Holy smokes! u made ALOT of beads! great instructable!

dezignarob (author)2008-08-11

Well I said I would come back when I had done some experiments on sealing my beads. I am pretty happy with my first idea - the wonderful and economical Future Floor Wax. This is a clear, fast drying acrylic substance available from Ace Hardware and some regular supermarkets in the floor cleaning aisle. Probably lives at other home stores too. I tried painting Future onto the beads with ordinary artist's paint brushes and setting them on upright toothpicks stuck into a piece of styrofoam to dry. Worked fine. A little time consuming, but as I said very econmomical otherwise. The Future applied thinly like this gives a light sheen rather than a high gloss. More as it happens.... If you try dipping into something like this, I'd love to hear how they turn out.

I was thinking of using some kind of paper glaze to seal the beads, but Future Floor Wax sound interesting. Does it have an odor?

Sorry to take so long to reply, I only just realized that you had asked a question. The odor is vanishingly slight to my nose, and disappears anywhere with drying. Much less than acrylic spray sealers for example.

No problem...I forgot that I even asked the question!

mcshawnboy (author)2009-02-04

On DIY Network's "Jewelry Making" with Jackie Guerra she showed a bracelet made of outdated coupons.

dezignarob (author)mcshawnboy2009-02-04

I enjoy that show, but I haven't caught it in a while. Thanks for the reminder.

lindahall (author)2008-12-06

Can you tell me what kind of paper cutter you use and where you biught it. Also how do you lign up your paper to get even sized beads? I love your beads and would like to try this with my daughter. Thanks.

dezignarob (author)lindahall2008-12-06

I use a sliding blade light up paper cutter that is one of those "as seen on tv" type of things. It came with multiple blades including a couple of different zig zags. But any type of zig zag or wavy cutter would work - a guillotine or sliding blade is just faster than other methods. As for the size I totally eyeball it, since even sized is not an issue for me. I think practice has made them easier to size, but I suppose you could measure and mark the edges of your paper sheets if you really wanted to. Have fun with it. I have found slightly thicker matte papers produce the nicest beads.

CarolinadeWitte (author)2008-11-07

Mod-Podge works for sealing them too.

BeadSpinner (author)2008-08-01

I like that... just one more thing for me to try - not enough hours in a day! Thanks for inspiration.

container_gardener (author)2008-06-19

I like the wavy pattern on the beads. This is a great way to recycle. This project reminds me of a necklace that was given to me when I was five by a great-aunt, who was a school principal. Her students made the necklace, and the beads fascinated me.

Lots of people seem to have fond memories of paper beads from their childhoods. I never did until recently. The wavy edges make these slightly different from those I have seen around. Paper bead wearers unite!

KIlroii (author)2008-06-13

Years ago I made a curtain of these beads. I used the kabob sticks you buy in grocery stores and used them to form and link the beads into a curtain. Have to tell my daughter about this! thanks for the memories A

Lzrd51 (author)2008-06-10

I have just started making these beads and after some trial and error have found a great system for me. I use an empty ball point pen cartridge. It makes the perfect sized hole for what I use them for and the plastic cartridge is flexible and easy to work with. Plastic straws made too big a hole for me. Also, I have found that wood glue from any hardware shop is a great craft glue as it dries clear.

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