Paper Bead Tutorial

One time I was seriously considering buying a pair of sandals because they were offering a free bonus paper bead necklace.  I really liked the sandals, but I loved the paper bead necklace.

Fast forward to my present phase of jewelry-making. I’ve been haunting Anthropologie’s jewelry page to get ideas for jewelry to make. I came across these dazzling beauties, and did a toe touch from excitement (wouldn’t that be awesome?!) I set my heart on them (stay tuned for a knock-off post/tutorial on those!), and in the mean while, learned how to make paper beads. I sort of went nuts, and made several other paper bead projects (can’t WAIT to share!!), and quite a few paper beads. While I was searching for tutorials, I was unsatisfied with what was out there, and ended up combining a few techniques–hence my own tutorial here. There are lots of different methods out there, but this is what I did (with no special tools etc), and it worked marvelously.

What you’ll need:

-magazines, colored paper, tissue paper, toilet paper (ok, maybe not) but really. Just get yourself some paper.

-Elmer’s glue, Modge podge, and some kind of varnish. I used spray polyurethane. One lady said she used Future Floor Finish, and another said she used nail polish.

-scissors, or a rotary blade, quilting ruler and cutting mat (way faster)

-round toothpicks

-something to stick your toothpicks in like a styrofoam tray or packing materials, or cardboard box.

-a paintbrush

 

Before you start cutting, I’ll say a word about paper choice. For beads that are mostly one color, choose an image that is mostly one color. Ok, so that’s logical, but just play around with different kinds of images i.e. colorful, more solid, mostly solid, monochromatic etc), and you’ll quickly get an idea for what kind of image creates what kind of bead.

Cut your strips: Measure 3/8″ from the bottom edge and mark.

Measure 3/4″ away from top edge and mark.

Now cut from the very top corner to your bottom mark. This prepares your next cut to be centered and the right size.

Cut from your top 3/4″ mark to the bottom corner. 

Repeat until you have what you need. At first I just was going for an assortment of colors, but then for a subsequent project I was looking for very specific colors, and only cut out as many strips as I needed to complete that certain project. You don’t have to use the full-length of the page either, and you can measure or longer than I have to make shorter or longer beads. Not a science here. You can also make rectangle strips to create tube beads, which I am using for another project. 

Start rolling a strip at the wide around a ROUND toothpick. You can use anything here, just as long as it’s pretty slender. Tooth picks are nice though because they’re reusable, yet disposable. Some people have special paper bead rolling machines. 

Keep rolling until you reach the very tip, 

and then add a dab of glue (anything type of glue will work here, I just liked elmer’s because it was easy to squeeze right onto the tip), 

and then wind the last bit of paper around the bead and hold until it stays. I usually rolled two beads per toothpick, and rolled all my beads to this point before I started mod-podging/varnishing.

Coat the beads in Mod Podge,

and then stick into your styrafoam tray or box or whatever.  Recoat after a good 4-8 hours. Or don’t wait that long, I won’t judge you. 

Now varnish. I just took my tray loaded with toothpicks outside and sprayed (two coats) of my polyurethane. I had semi-gloss, and wished I had high gloss. The more shine the better I say. If you use nail polish, you’d just paint again. If you use that floor finish or something that came in a tub or can you could just dip those suckers in. Just allow lots of drying time in between coats, and let them  thoroughly dry before you use them (only judging you a little bit if you can’t wait).

Remove from the toothpicks, and get ready for the real action! Stay tuned!

See my paper bead jewelry projects here: the Anthro knockoff Hue Pyramid Earrings, the Anthro knockoff Vaqunnon Earrings, the Paper Sunrise Necklace.

86 Comments

Rach

Oooooh, how I’ve missed your beautifully inspiring blog while I’ve been quarantined from internet access. Soooo happy to check out your blog and see you haven’t taken any time off from being AWESOME!

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mekei

we’ve made them before too and loved them. gotta do it again this summer with the kids.

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YAM B Fan

I don’t care WHAT you do with those beads, they look so cool and colorful just sitting on the table!

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Beth M. Stephenson

I gave paper bead necklaces to the friends who helped at my son’s wedding reception. They were a big hit but there was a bit of a problem when the time came to wrap them up and hand them over. (Selfish, selfish woman that I am!) I dipped the paper into modpodge before I rolled it and quickly learned that it made the bead stick to the toothpick. They took a long time to dry, but they were finished. This method should solve that. These are super pretty.

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Tracy

Yes these are real I learned way back in Vacation Bible Camp and have learned that during the toughest times in my life rolling these little beauties is relaxing meditative and great for the most creative inexpensive heart felt gifts…

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Cathy

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE INFOMATION ON HOW TO MAKE THOSE EARRINGS. THEY ARE SO UNIQUE. CAN’T WAIT TO MAKE THOSE EARRINGS.
THANKS
CATHY

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wvlady

Great tutorial! This is the first time I “got it!” I am new to your site and I will certainly be back!

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Mary

If you paint them with gold glitter or an iridescent color paint (mix with a little water in a plastic container & just put it all over each bead) before you varnish them, I used to put mine on some wax paper & they will dry fast, they will look so beautiful, I made so many of these as gifts.

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Kat

I am ready to try these! And I’m a paper fanatic. Any kind, any type. Have you ever used crepe paper to make the beads? I was wondering about their durability. I also had a thought just now- spiral 1/4″ ribbon around a dowel & Mod Podge- for earrings, Xmas decorations, etc. What do you think?

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Miriam

I think it sounds fantastic, and would LOVE to see how it works out. I’m interested to see if crepe paper would work too. It may take a lot longer because it’s so thin, but I think the result would probably be really pretty! Show and tell if you end up trying these ideas out!

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ivan z

oh incase you wd like to be supplied with many loose beads in all types just contact me, at ivanwaraba@yahoo.com. we have all kinds of beads plus their products, we have necklaces,bracelets ,money purse made out of paper bead necklaces.

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kelly elizabeth

Totally going to try these out. I’ve seen tutorials to make these but have never gave it a go, so doing it today!! I’ll post um on my blog, probably wont be as good as yours though lol. thanks for the inspiration!!

xo, k

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Linda

I’ve actually bought bracelets with these beads that were made in Uganda, Africa. They were so colorful & I couldn’t resist. Thanks for the lesson. Great Job!

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Miriam

Diane I don’t think I did anything, but was still able to twist them off after they dried, even thought hey stuck initially. Maybe try being extra careful when applying the mod podge to avoid the toothpick as much as possible, and then give bead a twist to release it from the toothpick between layers(?) Good luck, and let me know what works best!

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odette

i wish i cud see more projects =)
im starting paper recycling… paper beads are interesting…

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Judy Crocker

I started off rolling beads on tooth picks, then I tried coffee straws, they work great. You can roll 5 or 6 on one straw, stick them in styro. to dry. then spray. You don’t have to take them off, just take a flat cutter and cut the straws apart, leaving the straw in the bead. I find it much easier to work with than tooth picks. Give it a try, PS, you might want to use dark straws for darker paper and white straws for lighter paper. Happy Beading.

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Moxie

Thanks so much for the coffee stirrer idea! I ended up here after googling to try and find out how to get my beads off the toothpicks — and this completely makes the whole process easier!

Off to find coffee stirrers!

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Stephi

I hope I don’t sound dense, but could you tell me what kind of cutting tool that is in the picture, and that plastic thing with all the triangles on it. Thanks!

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Miriam

Nope not dense at all! It’s a quilter’s ruler, and they come in all shapes and sizes! I think I got this at JoAnn’s.

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mel

ha i tryed clear nail polish but i still dont get that expensive look can you give me tips

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Miriam

Well, I used a spray polyurethane and high gloss modgepodge, you can try those! They worked great for me! Good luck!

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Binary beading « Oops Oh No

[…] beads were made from triangles of magazine, rolled up on tooth picks and glued (much like this tutorial). After each person had made their beads, they then threaded them on embroidery thread and voilà! […]

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jo

looking fwd to trying. will heavier magazine pages/covers leave a paper ridge? how do you handle this? sandpaper edges?

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Miriam

The thickness of the paper doesn’t matter, as long as the grade of your paper triangle is gradual enough. It takes a little trial and error, but once you begin its easy to figure it out.

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Nicci in Wyoming

Mod podge is a type of glue/sealant to coat the beads with- you can make a homemade version simply by mixing elmer’s glue and water together. 🙂 Search the web for homemade mod podge and it will tell you how much of each, I believe it is equal parts. 🙂

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Miriam

Yes, I think so, although I have never tried it. It would probably just be a matter of getting the triangle long enough…? Let me know if you try it!

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Kathleen

Hi, About round beads..you sre can just make the triangles smaller at the wide end(according t the width you would like your round bead) and make it longer! if your paper is short cut 2 pieces…where the first one ends start the second..when you cut them out you will then glue them together..making 1 long strip! roll away and round bead you have!
Miriam..I was wondering about the spray poly..was it hard to get beads off of toothpick when they were dried ?? I have tried many things and I am bothered at the issue of sticking..I even baked my beads for a time to set them..but sadly I noticed they will still stick to one another if its a little on the HOT side when I go out..Not good for my projects or the time I spent! wondering if you have any ideas for doing LOTS of beads at 1 time as well thank you & GOD BLESS!

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Miriam

So good to know! Thanks for explaining that!And as far as the spray poly goes, I’m afraid I have the same problem, it”s always a pain to get them off the toothpicks. I’ve heard that you can use thick fishing wire and string them all on there, and i’m guessing that that wouldn’t absorb the gloss like wood does. Let me know if you find a better way!

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Babyvette

ty so much for doing this so easy to understand tutorial, i have gotten into recycling and ran in to paper bead making, I have made so many already, I have been so busy that I haven’t yet made any thing, lol. Once made beads out of construction paper, though they were hard to roll on to a tooth pick, i did it, lol. they did not come out perfectly round, however they looked like they could be used for a chunky piece of jewelry, I am now going to experiment by adding seed beads to the solid colored beads and to the beads that came out kinda weird, or to hide the major imperfections, i love the imperfections, they give character to the piece I may be working on, but the major imperfections like to hide, anyway i just wanted to mention that after sealing the ends with glue, i like to glaze them with a product called “Judi kins Diamond Glaze” it goes a long way, i cant even count how many beads i was able to use it with, you don’t have to used more than one coat to get that nice gloss look, It can also be mixed. however if you are not careful you can also have a hard time taking it off of the toothpick, so use it sparingly, also it only takes a few mins to dry enough to handle, and maybe a few mins longer to completely dry. Happy Beading! 🙂

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Babyvette

I have seen it at Michael’s and Porter’s and I believe that JoAnn’s may have it as well. I used to buy it at Siera. but they have gone out of business.here is the web site to Judi kins http://www.judikins.com/ I have also found it on the etsy web site and Amazon also sells it. For small bottle it can be a little pricey, however like I had mentioned a little does go a long way.

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Barnizando cuentas de papel « Gineceo

[…] Este tutorial fue el que seguí para hacer las cuentas. Los pasos para su elaboración son: recortar triángulos de 2 cm de base en la hoja de la revista; enrollar cada triángulo con ayuda de un palillo de dientes, pegarlo con goma para papel y terminarlo con una capa de Mod Podge (se puede usar goma blanca diluida) y barniz. Secándose al sol […]

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dianne knaack

there are paper rolling tools you could buy on fire mountain.com and also there is a bamboo tool sold on jtv.com I’ve used both of these tools and they make beautiful paper beads there re also tutorials on both of these sites

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Peg

Can’t wait to try these! Thanks so much. I have been wanting to learn how to make them. I really enjoy your blog.

Peg

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Nicci in Wyoming

I string my unfinished beads on fishing line, then dip them in the glaze and hang to dry. It is very easy, less time consuming and a breeze to clean up!

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Ann Aprigliano

I have been looking for ever for a tutorial on these types of beads. I have gotten my soon to be daughter-in-law into beading and wanted to show her this style. Thousands of different beads on a budget. Thanks.

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LouAnn Elwell

Love this tutorial. I tried making these once, but found it difficult. Somehow, this seems so much easier. I shared your blog with some friends and they were thrilled with the anthropologie knock off earrings. I am going to try making my own beads & make myself a pair! Thanks for this!! I’m probably going to do a group get together to make paper beads!

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Miriam

That sounds SO fun, it will be such a fun thing to do with friends! And you’ll love the anthro knock off earrings, they are still to this day some of my very faves!

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Tina

I know this post is very old but I thought this might help others. I make paper beads often and have for years. I order bulk short bamboo sticks in different diameters off amazon. I dip these in melted beeswax mixed with a little coconut oil ( more beeswax than coconut oil but don’t know
my exact measurements). I found this keeps them from sticking to the sticks. So far my beeswax sticks have held up through many rounds of beads. They can always be re-waxed. I’ve tried many, many ways over the years and this seems to work best for me.

Another item I love is Eco Epoxy Resin. It is a 2 part resin that has long pot life and makes gorgeous beads. I apply this after they are rolled and dried. Sometimes to make extra dramatic beads I’ll apply a second coat the next day. A little goes a very long way. I’ve made many hundreds of beads off one set of this resin.

Another tip, layer your strips of paper and it makes bigger beads more quickly. I also love to make my own paste papers to make gorgeous beads. You can google paste papers if that is new idea to you.

And lastly, cereal boxes and things like it make great beads. I’ll try anything once for beads.

Have fun!

Tina

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Miriam

Tina thank you so much for commenting!! There so much useful info there, and I’m totally going to try the beeswax idea! Thanks for sharing, I’m sure many will find your tips helpful!

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ayesha fuard

Very nice thank you….want to make a pair for my grand daughter…Your page keep me going.and make my grand daughter happy.Gods Blessings…thank you

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Jan Byrne

I use plastic toothpicks/cocktail sticks for making my beads. They’re a lot easier to get the beads off when they’ve been glazed, etc. Also, if I do struggle to get them off, I hold the toothpicks lightly with pliers. So much easier :0)

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dianne Knaack

After I spray with varnish and left to dry I have trouble removing the beads from the toothpick with them sticking any sugesstions

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Georgina Clinton

How do you get them thicker in the middle and thinner at the ends.? Georgina in Scotland.

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Jessica Perez

I have a question… I know that with Modge Podge Gloss , it says on the container to use an acrylic sealant or something to eliminate Tackiness. So.. if I use Diamond Glaze INSTEAD of an acrylic sealant or Polyurithane….. Will it still be Tacky?
Thank you. 🙂

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Joy schottenloher

I really enjoyed reading your post. You cracked me up. Your since if humor is crazy. So you won’t judge me? Well after I make some beads we will see about that.lol I’ve always wanted to do this ,now I know I want to do this because of your directions. THANKS FOR MAKING MY MORNING BRIGHTER…..JOY

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