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Shiny Paper Bead Bracelet
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Crafts using Recycled Materials

Shiny Paper Beads

What you will make:

See how easy it is to recycle paper scraps and magazines to make colorful paper beads. After winding the paper into beads and varnishing them for a shiny finish and durability, the beads can be strung into bracelets, necklaces and even beaded room dividers!

This craft is well-suited for family, group or classroom craft time, and is best done in two sessions. Though with a little preparation by the adult or teen leader, along with skipping the varnish step, a bracelet can be completed in one craft time.

Related craft: See how to make paper beads with soda straw centers in the Straw Beads Necklace craft project.

Here's what you need:
  • Scraps of colorful paper (at least 8" long) or colorful magazine pages
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • For making a bracelet: Elastic bead cord (0.8 mm), glass or wood beads
  • Toothpicks
  • Glue
  • Water-based varnish
  • Paint brush
  • Styrofoam plate or wood blocks
  • Optional: Craft knife and cutting mat

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make a Shiny Paper Bead Bracelet

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Project Preparation

Gather the materials needed for making the paper beads and bracelet. If you are doing this project with a group of children, precut the strips of paper and setup materials and tools for each child.

Step 2: Select and Cut Paper

Select scraps of paper or magazine pages to make your paper beads. Select colorful paper that is patterned or plain. You need paper that is at least 8" long that can be cut into triangles that are ½" wide at the base and 8" to 12" in length.

To cut the triangles, turn the paper with the back up. Along the top edge, measure and make marks at ½" (12 mm) intervals. On the bottom edge make the first mark at ¼" (6 mm) then mark ½" intervals from there. Join the marks to form long triangles then cut on these lines to create the bead strips. (Discard the first and last odd shaped strips.)

Tip: Adults and teens can use a craft knife, ruler and cutting mat to cut the bead strips more quickly. There is no need to draw lines that join the marks, just line-up the ruler on the marks and cut. Caution craft knifes can be dangerous and should only be used by adults or teens.

Step 3: Roll Beads

Starting at the base of the triangle, with the strip backside up, roll the bead strip over the middle of a toothpick. Continue winding the paper tightly on the toothpick using your thumb and middle finger. Apply glue to the final inch or two of the bead strip and complete the winding. Don't worry about excess glue, just rub it over the bead.

Remove the bead from the toothpick and set aside while you roll more beads. A bracelet needs 8 to 16 beads depending on the size of the bracelet and whether you add glass or wood beads to your bracelet.

Tip: Make the bead strip easier to wind by curling the end first. Curl paper by holding the paper and toothpick between your thumb and index finger with the point of the triangle in your other hand. Draw the toothpick along the paper strip towards the base with firm pressure.

Step 4: Varnish Beads (optional)

To make your beads shiny and more durable, paint them with two coats of varnish. Put the bead on a toothpick before you paint it. Allow the varnish to dry between coats according to product instructions.

You will need to setup a drying station for your beads. You can turn a Styrofoam plate facedown and stick beads on toothpicks into the plate. Another option is to place the toothpicks with the wet beads across two wood blocks that are a couple of inches apart.

Step 5: String Bracelet

Cut a 10" length of 0.8 mm elastic bead cord. Lay out your paper beads in the order you want on the bracelet, including glass or wood beads as you like. Slide the beads onto the elastic cord. Check the bracelet length and add or subtract beads to fit your wrist. When you are satisfied with the length of the bracelet and arrangement of beads, tie the ends of the cord into a square knot and cut the cord ¼" from the knot.

That's it! Make as may bracelets as you like and maybe a matching necklace.
Shiny Paper Bead Bracelets

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Thanks to...

Thanks to Sonya Carver for sharing this craft idea with Aunt Annie's Craft Exchange in 1996.

Sonya noted, "This project is an easy one and is a neat idea for children's necklaces, and whatever else. I enjoy doing all types of crafts in my spare time."

Paper bead bracelet with glass beads added

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Tip: When stringing your bracelet, alternate paper beads with glass beads.

Paper bead bracelet with wood beads

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Tip: Wood beads combined with paper beads make a beautiful bracelet.

Paper beads made from scraps of Adinkra digital paper

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Tip: The sample bracelets feature paper beads made with scraps of Aunt Annie's Adinkra digital papers leftover from making Pentagon boxes.

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