Paper beadmaking


By Caitlin Murray Giles


Save paper with interesting prints or colors and turn them into paper bead necklaces and bracelets. Best of all, this project doesn’t cost a dime.


  • Assortment of paper scraps (wrapping paper, junk mail, wallpaper, colored craft paper, magazine pictures,
  • newspapers, etc.)
  • Pencils
  • Ruler
  • Scissors (younger children should use child-safe scissors)
  • Glue sticks
  • Drinking straws or wooden dowels
  • String, yarn or clear wire
  • Optional: paper glaze, Mod Podge, store-bought beads, art supplies for decorating the craft paper


  1. Gather together some paper scraps to work with (you could even use this issue of Chicago Parent when you're done with it).
  2. Cut long triangles from the paper scraps, measuring about ½ to 1½ inches wide and 6 to 9 inches long. If you want the beads to be uniform in size, use a ruler to measure the edges and cut straight lines (but it is also nice to have beads in a variety of sizes, so precision is not necessary).To make the cutting easier for younger children, make a template and trace it onto the paper so they can cut the triangles out with child-safe scissors.
  3. Once you have cut out a good selection of paper triangles, cover the back side of a triangle with glue. Be sure to cover the entire triangle with the glue so it adheres securely. A glue stick works best for this job.
  4. Place a regular size drinking straw or wooden dowel on the triangle's short side and wrap the paper completely around itself. If using a straw, trim it at both ends of the rolled paper to form your bead. If using a wooden dowel, remove it from the inside of the bead before the glue begins to stick to it.
  5. Continue the rolling process until you have enough beads for your project. Let the beads dry completely and secure any edges that may have come unglued. String the finished beads onto yarn, string or clear wire to make bracelets or necklaces.

Possible variations: Once you have the basic steps down, you can get creative. Vary the sizes of your triangles to make beads of different sizes. Make your own custom beads by decorating the paper with stamps or other original artwork. Mix store-bought beads in with your paper beads to create some visual interest. For a more professional look, cover your paper beads with paper glaze or Mod Podge to create a hard, glossy finish and make them more durable (follow the directions on these products to achieve the right results). Paper beads can also be used to make items such as garlands to decorate a Christmas tree.

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