Introduction: Paper Bead & Leather Bracelet

About: Geeky artist. MUST. MAKE. STUFF. More stuff at:

My earlier paper bead tutorial shows the basics of making paper beads for stringing, but I wanted to create something a little flashier for this instructable. I decided to make large hole, Pandora style beads with a super shiny finish and use them as the base for this boho style leather bracelet. Have fun making the beads and choosing papers. I don't think you can get too colorful for this project!

Step 1: What You Need

Paper - 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. For this project pick out patterns that are colorful. Thicker paper makes bigger beads.

4mm Leather cord, about 10"

Clasp and cord ends - these can be separate or all in one, hook, toggle or button all work

Optional large hole metal beads and/or charms


Thin straw, fat skewer, thin wooden dowel or other round form to make the bead holes - aim for something about 4-5mm in diameter and fairly smooth

Glue stick

Metal ruler, xacto knife, pencil are all optional for cutting strips (or a paper cutter)

UTEE - ultra thick embossing enamel, clear - any brand

Embossing ink

Heat gun


Step 2: Cut Paper Strips

The length of the strips determine the thickness of the final bead. The longer the strips, the thicker the bead. To start, cut strips at least 1 foot long. Use either scissors, an xacto knife and straight edge, or a paper cutter. Roll one and see how it looks. Measurements are different for different papers. When you have the right size, cut the rest.

I used a paper cutter to cut straight strips 1 cm wide. This will be your bead width. Then I angled the paper starting at the 1 cm mark down to a few mm and cut angled strips. For each bead you will use one straight strip and one angled strip.

Note: 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.

Step 3: The Biggest Problem Keeping Strips Organized.

Step 4: Roll the Strips

This is the part where the paper becomes a bead and you first see the patterns the papers make.

Firmly wrap a straight paper strip around your round shape (I used an X-Acto knife handle). When the whole strip is wrapped, tack the end with the glue stick. Match up the fat end of the angled second strip (of the same paper), and roll that on top of the first strip. You can use glue to tack beginning of the strip if you want. Keep the second strip centered as much as possible. Tack down the narrow end with glue. 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 a little if necessary.

Step 5: Optional Sanding

When the glue is dry you can leave your beads as they are or sand down any pieces of paper that stick out.

Step 6: Make the Beads Shiny

Roll the bead around on the stamp pad until all the outside surfaces our covered with the embossing ink. This is what makes the UTEE stick to the bead.

Step 7: Embossing Enamel

Then dip the inked bead in the UTEE with a skewer. Use your heat gun to carefully melt the embossing powder. While still hot, put the bead back in the embossing powder. The powder will stick. Then apply heat again. Repeat two or three times or until you like the finish. You can keep the clear finish or add other embossing colors if you like. I mostly used only the clear.

Step 8: Patience!

This is not a project that can be rushed. This batch of 32 beads took me about five hours.

Step 9: Cord End 1

To finish the leather cord and you can use either purchased cord ends or make your own. How it works is that the end of the leather cord goes into a tube. The leather is either glued in or the tube is crimped and squeezed onto the leather. It depends on what you buy or make. I made my own crimping cord ends (but that's for another tutorial).

Attach one cord end before you cut the cord.

Step 10: Cord Length

Get an estimate of the length you need for the cord by randomly adding some beads to the cord and wrapping it around your wrist.Then add 2". Then cut the leather cord.

Step 11: Design and Size Your Bracelet

Now is the time to get out your finished paper beads and any additional large hole beads you want to use. Work out the pattern and design. The thickness of the beads will make the bracelet smaller so make sure you have all your beads on first before you try the bracelet on for size.

Once you have your final bead pattern, try the bracelet on again. Note how long the cord is to fit comfortably. Then follow the instructions below.

Figuring out the final cord length:

Figure in the total length of the second cord end and any clasps (when closed) that you're using. If these total 2", for example, you will subtract that from the length you worked out above. It's better to cut the cord too long than too short. With that in mind, cut the leather to size and slide on the second cord end. Try on again. Cut off a little more if the bracelet is too big. If the length is good, go to the next step.

Note: If you accidentally cut the cord too short, you can fix this by adding jump rings or a bigger clasp.

Step 12: Cord End 2

With all the beads on, attach the second cord end the same way as the first. I made my cord ends with the clasp integrated. If you have a separate clasp, attach it to the cord ends now. (If you used glue, make sure it's dry first.)

Step 13: Variations

Here are a few ideas:

Use the paper beads alone or with additional beads.

Try different kinds of leather.

Add charms.

Add gemstones.

Make multiple strands of cord.

Try different kinds of clasps.

Have Fun!

Step 14:

Papercraft Contest 2015

Second Prize in the
Papercraft Contest 2015

Preserve It! Contest

Participated in the
Preserve It! Contest

Leather Contest

Participated in the
Leather Contest