All about paper beads

DIY Paper beads
Paper Beads

Since it’s summer and kids are out of school, I decided to do a simple paper craft that may just help you recycle and keep your kids entertained for just a few moments. Paper beads are simple, fun and quick to make. I know all you super busy moms out there can appreciate a good craft that will also help you recycle some old magazines or newspapers (or even some of their school work they cleaned out of their desks and jammed into their backpacks.)

Paper beads can be simple and beautiful at the same time. And a perfect cure for kids summer time boredom. If you have a bunch of junk mail, newspapers, or magazines lying around, round them up for this fun, quick craft.

History of Paper Beads

Paper bead making has a long history. It can be dated back to England as far as the Victorian Age. Young ladies would have social gatherings in their dinning rooms and make paper beads from scraps of wall paper. They would roll them on their knitting needles and use beeswax to polish them. Then they would string them up on yarn to make door curtains to divide rooms.

Paper bead making became popular again in the 1920’s and 30’s for jewelry making. Paper beads made in cooperative as parts of development projects in Uganda. (How cool is that) So that the country could move away from charitable donations and aid towards business enterprises. This way they can provide sustainable income and development opportunities. They use scraps of paper from printing companies and recycled materials.

There’s a Scottish based company called Mzuribeads that markets and sells ethical Ugandan paper beads. You can also find them from artists on Etsy and Artfire. But I say we make our own!

Tools and Materials

There are many different types of paper you can use for your beads. Go around the house and pick up all the old newspapers and magazines and junk mail that seems to accumulate and never disappear. You can also used color printer paper, cardstock, wallpaper, paper shopping bags, or even wrapping paper. Everything is fair game :))

So you have your paper all ready, next you need some glue. I used plain old Elmer’s glue cuz it dries clear.

You’ll need a pencil to mark your paper for cutting the shapes. (You can use a crayon if it’s readily available depending on the kids ages)

A ruler for measuring your cuts. I’ll be honest here, I didn’t use a ruler. I just cut long triangles. But if you want all your beads the same shape you should measure.

Scissors for cutting the shapes. I used my paper-cutter from Cricut. But you can use scissors or a craft knife or even a rotary cutter. (If kids are doing the cutting, I suggest safety scissors)

A wooden skewer for rolling the beads around. I’ll be honest again, I used  a crochet hook. It’s what I had laying on my desk within reach lol You can also use a pencil or pen. Kids may find it easier to use a plastic straw. Really anything you can wrap the paper around will work. The bigger the object, the bigger the hole in the bead will be so keep that in mind.

Optional- you can use a small paint brush to apply the glue rather than trying to squeeze it from the container. It may be a bit cleaner since you don’t really need a lot to hold the beads together.

Now to make your beads are shiny and waterproof you will need a sealer of some sort. I’m using Mod Podge. Varnish can also be used, and probably should be for durability. When I do the video tutorial I will try to remember to use both for comparison sake.

Making the beads, finally!

Now that you have all your materials lets start cutting some paper. We are going to be sticking with the triangle shape. And as I said earlier, you can measure or just wing it like I did.

Paper beads made from magazine pages

If you want to measure you can pick your own measurements depending on how wide you want your beads. The biggest end of your triangle determines the width of your bead. Cut the paper length wise to get the longest triangles. The longer the paper, the thicker your bead will be.

Cut all the triangles out before you start the rolling and gluing. Trust me, it gets messy once the glue gets involved, or maybe that’s just me?

Once you have your shapes cut, begin rolling with the wide end on your wooden skewer or crochet hook or straw, whatever you chose. Roll about half way and add a tiny dab of glue. Keep the roll tight so there aren’t any gaps in your bead. Once you get to the skinny end of the triangle you want to add glue about a quarter of an inch all the way to the end to hold the bead shape.

See how easy that was? Maybe a little messy with the glue but mess equals fun right? (Sorry Moms)

Making paper beads

It’s fun to see the outcome of the beads made with magazines or printed paper. Magazines have so many vibrant colors and would make very fun beads.

There are different shapes you can cut to get different beads. A pendant shape and variations of the triangle. I’ll go over all of them in the video tutorial. So make sure ya stay tuned!

How did you do? Let’s see all your beads! You can email me or find me on social media to show me your paper beads.


12 thoughts on “All about paper beads

  1. I am so excited to try these out with the kiddos this summer. I’m anxiously awaiting the video training, as I’m a super visual person.

    On another note, I love your posts. As a non-crafty person whose given birth to a couple of very artsy kids, you are inspiring me to try new things with them.

    1. Awe I’m so glad to hear that!! The video will be up soon I promise! I’m a visual person as well, I’d rather show you then tell you lol
      If you have any kids crafts you want me to do a tutorial on, let me know! I love doing new things!

  2. I love this craft! I’ve never seen it before. My daughter is very much into crafting and even more into making jewellery. We will definitely be making this craft this summer. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. This is so awesome. We will try this this summer! We actually have a Ugandan paper bead bracelet that we bought after reading a book about a lady in Uganda that helped the woman start a jewelry making business to help them out of poverty. Super cool right? These beads are so unique, my girls will love making these.

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