Make a Birthday Present From a Paper Bag




Introduction: Make a Birthday Present From a Paper Bag

About: Self-employed YouTuber, creator and maker working from studio at home. Running craft workshops and making instructional videos for YouTube. Also manufacturer of craft tools and templates.

The other day, I went to buy a birthday card for a friend. It came in an ordinary, very thin and small paper bag. As I left the shop, I thought, what if I used this bag to make a gift? Could I do it with such a small and flimsy paper bag? I'm not totally mean! I had already got her a present but I just love the challenge of creating something special from ordinary things.

It worked. I made one bracelet from the bag and I made another one for myself from the template strips which I hand colored with inks. With the added shop bought beads and charms, both bracelets cost me less than $1.50.

Step 1: What You Will Need

You will need:

  • A paper bag or old magazine pages
  • A paper bead template for the size beads you want (I used 1/2 inch for mine)
  • Or, instead of a template, a ruler and pencil for marking out your triangles
  • A cutting mat
  • A paper bead rolling tool
  • Waxed Toothpicks to put the beads on while you glaze them *
  • A piece of foam packing to stick the toothpicks upright in while beads dry
  • A paint brush
  • Some white glue or clear glaze

Not pictured:

  • If you are using a template you will need some temporary adhesive ( on a small roller - such as Stick It)
  • Around 25 tiny beads (I used gold for one and silver for the other)
  • Some charms (I used a heart on one and angel wings on another)
  • Metal ruler
  • Scalpel or craft knife
  • 12 inches of 1mm round craft elastic.
  • A split ring to attach a charm

*Note: It is useful to melt some bee's wax and dip your toothpicks in it to prevent the beads getting stuck to the sticks when you glaze them. It takes up a little bit of time but it is worth the trouble. You can use the same toothpicks over and over again but I have only ever had to wax mine once. I dipped mine and then stood them up in packing foam to dry.

Step 2: Open Out the Bag and Cut Strips

First, carefully open out the bag. Then either measure out your 1/2 inch triangles or lightly stick the template to the plain side of the bag using the temporary adhesive.

Cut out your strips. If you have used a template, put the white strips to one side for making the second bracelet later.

If you have used a small, light paper bag like I did, the strips will be very delicate. Don't let this put you off. The result will be a very dainty, pretty piece of jewelery when mixed with tiny gold or silver beads.

Step 3: Roll Your Beads

Next, using either a toothpick or a bead rolling tool (I never did get along with the toothpick method and so I made my own bead roller), roll up all the paper bag strips with the colored side outwards (of course!)

Use either a glue stick such as Pritt or a dab of tacky white glue to stick the end of the bead down.

Remove from the bead roller.

Step 4: Seal and Glaze Your Beads

Next, take each bead and look at the end. You will see that there is a flap of paper across the hole from where it came off the roller. Later, you will poke that back into place when you string your beads, But for now, leave it like that because it helps to hold each bead more firmly on the toothpick when you are sealing and glazing them. If they are loose on the toothpick, they wobble and move as you make brush strokes. if they are held firm, you can just twirl the bead against the brush and it is a much quicker process.

Use white glue, decoupage glue or something like Diamond Glaze to seal and glaze the beads. Stand each one up by pushing the toothpick into packing foam and allow to dry between coats. I usually use two coats of white glue that dries clear and then one coat of Diamond Glaze.

Step 5: String Your Beads

Finally, remove your beads from the toothpicks and use a bamboo skewer to poke into the hole and push back the flap of paper that is left over from rolling on the bead tool. Use nail scissors to snip off any excess dried glue or glaze around the hole.

Take your 1mm elastic and string your paper bag beads, alternating with some tiny gold or silver beads (or whatever you have chosen).

Then add your chosen charm.

Step 6: Decorate the Template Strips

Finally, decorate the plain white template strips using Sharpie markers, acrylic paints or dye inks and repeat all the other steps and voila! You have two bracelets for less than $1.50.

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    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Julia, what did you have difficulty with? If there is anything I can do to help, let me know. Kind regards, Gillian.