Introduction: Recycled Paper Bead Jewellery

About: Hi, I'm Rachel and I love sewing and making things, especially using old or unwanted materials. My favourite thing to do is upcycle bits and bobs to make pretty new things✂️ Hope you enjoy my instructables!

Making paper beads is both fun and relaxing. Making them from recycled papers makes it even more enjoyable, as you don’t know how they will turn out. Plus, the paper doesn’t cost anything! You can just grab some junk mail from your letterbox and get started straight away. Once made, you can use your beads for necklaces, bracelets, earrings or even key rings.

Step 1: What You Will Need

There are four sets of supplies that you will need: one for each step of the process. But don’t worry, you will probably have most of these already at home, and don’t be afraid to substitute these materials for other things.

Step 1: Paper, scissors/ craft knife/ paper cutter. For the paper, choose something that you would otherwise be throwing out, such as magazines, leaflets, brochures etc. Be creative! I use a paper cutter usually, because it is much quicker, but feel free to use scissors or a craft knife.

Step 2: Bead roller/ toothpick, PVA glue, small jar (optional). Bead rollers are tools with a slit at one end for rolling your paper beads. If you don’t want to get one, toothpicks with a slit cut in one end work perfectly too. The jar can be used to store your rolled beads before glazing.

Step 3: Glaze ( I used mod podge, but any type of glaze should work fine), soft paintbrush, a sponge, toothpicks.

Step 4: Elastic, wire or string for stringing your jewellery. Don’t forget to get clasps if you are using wire or string. I prefer to use elastic usually, as it is easy to use and wear and looks just as good.

Step 2: Making Paper Strips

The first step to beautiful paper beads is to cut your paper into strips. The thickness of the paper, the length of the strip, and the width of the strip all influence the shape of the bead. I love experimenting with different shapes, sizes and colours: you never know what you're gonna get! For this I am using a brochure with quite thin pages.

-First, I removed the staples and cut it down the centre (otherwise it would be too thick to cut). In this tutorial I am making oval beads, for straight beads, cut straight strips.

-If you are going to use scissors or a craft knife, mark along the top at even intervals (depending on how long you want your beads to be). Repeat on the bottom, except measure in half of your original measurement first.

-Then line up your ruler between the markings and cut into triangular strips. Always start with the thicker end to avoid ripping thin paper.

-The same process applies for a paper cutter.

Step 3: Rolling the Beads

For me, rolling up the strips into beads is the best part of the process. It's especially relaxing to do when watching TV or listening to music.

- Because my paper was so thin, I used three strips of paper to make a bead this size, but you will only need one strip for thicker types of paper such as shiny leaflets.

- Slide your strip(s) into the slit in your bead roller or toothpick, leaving a few millimetres poking out the top. Make sure that the side you want on the outside of your bead is not facing you.

- Roll the tool towards you, keeping it tight as you go. Try to keep the end tip centred.

-Stop when you have a few centimetres left. Coat the tip in PVA glue (or whatever similar glue you have). Stick it down and push the excess glue all around the bead. Hold in place until it stays.

- Squeeze the bead, and gently pull it off the tool.

-Now roll up the rest of the strips! I keep my beads in a jar to stop them from rolling away.

Step 4: Glazing the Beads

Now, this step is optional , but if you want to wear your jewellery regularly and keep it durable, I would definitely recommend it.

- Take a toothpick and place your bead on one end, pushing out the curled piece of paper in the hole.

- Taking your soft paintbrush, apply a small amount of glaze until the bead it covered in a thin layer (make sure that the glaze dries clear before using it).

- Stick it into a sponge to dry. Repeat with the remaining beads.

- I usually do two coats of Mod Podge, as I find it makes them much harder. Repeat the process once your beads are dry. I use two different coloured sponges so I know which have been glazed once or twice.

- Finally, pull the beads off the sticks and store them for use.

Step 5: Making the Jewellery

The final step is to turn all of your beautiful beads into jewellery, to wear yourself or give as gifts. Nobody will believe they are made of recycled paper!

- Decide what item of jewellery you want to make. I made a necklace from mine.

- Tie a slip knot in the end of your string, elastic or wire and begin to thread on the beads. I used some seed beads in between to space them out and add a pop of colour.

- If you make several different coloured beads, you could make a pattern.

- Finally, undo the knot at the end and tie the two ends together or attach a clasp. Make several knots before snipping the ends. If you are using elastic, push the knot under a bead to hide it.

And you're done! You can make any jewellery you like from your paper beads, maybe try a matching set of earrings if you have some left over. Don't be afraid to try different styles of beads (print out templates) or unique materials such as sweet wrappers or napkins. I hope you enjoy experimenting with your paper beads.

Paper Contest 2018

Participated in the
Paper Contest 2018