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November 25, 2011

Make Your Own Paper Beads

Paper beads have been  made for a long time. The idea isn't new by any means.  Beads made this way use to be common place, but seldom are these beads made in the home anymore or worn in jewelry designs. I remember the first time I learned of paper beads. My grandmother had given me a necklace made of handmade paper beads that she purchased at her church craft fair. I wore the necklace for years, and still have it in storage.  I hadn't thought of the necklace in ages until flipping through a jewelry supply catalog recently. The catalog had a metal tool for sale that is used to make paper beads. Seeing the tool made me think of the necklace and about trying to make my own paper beads. Chances to reuse things that would other wise be garbage are always my favorite.


The Tool:
I used a screwdriver instead of the tool specifically made to make paper beads. I tried using a pen, pencil, and a bamboo skewer to roll the paper around, but none worked. Metal keeps the bead from sticking to the rod, so it can be easily removed. Crochet or knitting hooks could also be used as long as they are metal.


The Paper:
We don't keep much scrap paper around, so my paper choices were kind of limited. I practiced making beads with different weights of paper. I found that thicker paper is needed for a beginner to make a well formed bead. Maybe with practice newsprint could be used. I tried with bad results. I believe the necklace that I own is made of paper beads from wallpaper scrap. The thickness of the wallpaper would be perfect for making paper beads. If I had some I would certainly try using it. The bright colors of the wallpaper would also make a better fit then most magazine pages. I ended up using the back and front covers of a couple of magazines. The prints/colors aren't really idea for jewelry, but made good practice. Cutting the paper was my biggest hangup. The paper needs to be cut at at a sharp angle and be 9-10 inches long. It took a little of trial and error to get it just right. Changing the paper triangle size easily changes the bead dimensions. Be creative!


The Other Stuff::
The only other things you will need to make paper beads are regular white school glue, a paint brush (useful but not necessary), paint or clear coat (also not necessary), and a pair of scissors. The glue is used to form the bead and to seal it. The optional paint or clear coat can also be used to seal and finish the beads. The paint brush is used to apply the small amounts of glue needed in the project. You can use your finger, but it gets messy!

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How To Do It:

1) Cut triangles of proper proportions out of preselected scrap paper. Read the paragraph above to help you choose your paper. 

2)Begin to wrap paper around screwdriver (see above for other tools) rod while applying a light coating of school glue to the inside of the paper triangle. Start wrapping paper from the base of the triangle. Layer of glue should be very thin. Wipe off drips.

3) Continue to wrap the paper around the screwdriver rod while applying glue until the entire triangle is rolled with the point on top. Remove bead from rod and allow to dry.

4)When dry, apply a thin coating of glue to seal bead. You can also paint or clear coat the bead at this time. Allow to dry again.

5)Enjoy your new creations!

UPDATE 12/01/2011: I've been making lots of these beads lately. Here are a few tips that I found to make the process easier. When I made my first batch I thought it would be as simple as wrapping paper around a rod. It pretty much was, but the beads weren't very uniformed. I didn't research how to make paper beads before I tried my first batch. I just made my own technique, so needless to say the technique needed to be worked on.


1) Don't spread glue on the whole strip of paper, just the last inch or so towards the point. It will stay fine with only a small amount of glue. 

2) Wooden skewers can be used to roll the beads around as long as you only add the glue to the last inch. These small skewers allow for smaller beads.

3) A ruler is a big help when cutting the paper for the beads. I now draw all the triangles out before I cut verses cutting freehand. Much more uniform shape for the beads.

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