2 February 2015

DIY: Paper Bead Necklace

A few weekends ago I went to a second hand book sale and got inspired to make some paper bead jewellery while in the foreign language section. For this tutorial I'm making a necklace but you can also use the paper beads for earrings or bracelets.

  • Paper Strips
  • Scissors
  • Skewer
  • Paintbrush or Foam Brush
  • Mod Podge or PVA Glue
  • Tiger Tail Wire
  • Clasp
  • Crimps
  • Jewellery Pliers
  • Wire Cutters


The first step is to cut out some paper strips. The strips I used were 1.5 by 16 cm (or 0.6 x 6.3 inches if you don't use the metric system). The dimensions of your strips will influence how the beads look - the wider the strips, the wider the beads and the longer the strips, the fatter the beads. The shape of the strips is also important. See the image linked here or google 'paper bead templates' for an idea of the different types of beads you can create. You can use whatever paper you like here - maps, newspaper, text, images, patterned paper, magazines, origami paper, etc.


Take a strip of paper and wrap the end around the skewer. The end of the paper you would like to see on the bead should be face down and at the opposite end from the skewer. Use a small amount of Mod Podge or PVA to secure the paper around the skewer. Don't circle the paper around the skewer too tightly as you want to be able to slide the finished bead off the skewer with ease. 


Coat the entire strip of paper with adhesive. I find it easier to use a foam brush rather than a paintbrush but foam brushes aren't so photogenic. Carefully roll the strip of paper around the skewer, keeping the edges in line as you go. Give the bead a final coat of adhesive to seal it. 


Give the bead a few seconds to start to dry then slide the bead off the skewer and coat the ends and inside with adhesive. This is where a paintbrush is more useful, or you could use the end of another skewer. Leave the bead to dry and harden. 


Repeat steps two through four until you have the number of beads you need for earrings/bracelet/necklace. It's probably a good idea to leave the beads overnight to dry completely before you start making anything with them. 


Thread one or two crimps and one half of the clasp onto the length of wire for the necklace or bracelet. Double the wire back through the crimp(s) and use jewellery pliers to press the crimp closed to keep the clasp in place. My pliers aren't very photogenic either! You could also use thread, string or fishing line. 


Thread the paper beads onto the wire. 


Repeat step six with the other half of the clasp to complete the necklace or bracelet. 


You can also buy paper bead making devices. They are pretty handy and mine is easy to use. I was able to make three beads at once before sliding them off the insert which sped up the process. The three inserts make different sized holes in the beads and the inserts have a slit in them which you feed the end of the paper strips into to secure them before you start wrapping the paper. The one I have is from the eighties but I had a google and there are a few different kits or devices around if you anticipate making paper beads often. Otherwise the skewer method outlined above works perfectly fine.

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