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