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Drinking straw bead necklaces
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Straw Bead Necklaces

What you will make:

In this project, you'll see how to take the classic drinking straw bead necklace and step it up a notch! You'll use decorative paper strips to cover the soda straws before cutting them into beads. This is a great way to recycle your leftover paper scraps.

This project uses basic materials and is great for family, classroom, or group craft time. It's simple to tailor this craft for children of all ages, as well as for adults. For younger children, cover the straws with paper in advance, or use uncovered straws. For adults, plan on using fancy decorative papers and high-quality ribbons, and finishing the beads with a coating of acrylic varnish.

Related craft: See how easy it is to recycle paper scraps and magazines to make colorful paper beads in the Shiny Paper Beads craft project.

Here's what you need:
  • Drinking straws (save and wash used ones, if you like)
  • Scraps of colorful paper (at least as long as the straws)
  • ½" or ¼" (6 or 10 mm) wide grosgrain ribbon, 36" to 60" (1 to 1.5 m)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors (sharp shears, not your good paper scissors)
  • Ruler
  • White glue (Elmer's/PVA)
  • Plastic lid for glue
  • 1" foam brush
  • Wax paper
  • Glass or paper cup
  • Optional: Paper cutter, elastic bead cord (0.8 mm), glass or wood beads (larger than straw diameter), plastic lacing, shoelaces, tissue paper, acrylic varnish

This project is rated VERY EASY to do.

How to Make Drinking Straw Bead Necklaces

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

Read through the project, then gather the materials needed for making the straw bead necklaces. To make the craft go faster, pre-cut the paper strips and glue the strips on the straws to cover them. Another option is to break the craft up into two sessions by covering the straws with paper in the first session and making the necklaces in the second.

Step 2: Select and Cut Paper Assortment of colorful papers

Think about your necklace and the color of the beads. Look through your scrap papers and find colors that go together. You can use just about any decorative or solid-colored paper—even tissue paper!

Tip: If your straws are any color other than white, check to see if the color of the straw will show through the paper.

Cut strips of paper Cut strips from your selected papers. Strips should be 1¼" (32 mm) wide and a bit longer than the straw. You need one strip for each straw and three or four straws for each necklace.

Step 3: Wrap Straws in Paper Spread glue on back of paper strip

Spread wax paper on the table and pour a puddle of glue into the plastic lid. Place the paper strip face-down on the wax paper. Use the foam brush to coat the paper with a thin layer of glue. Lay the straw on the strip.

Wrap paper around strawWrap the paper around the straw. Try to keep the paper smooth and wrinkle-free.

Tip: Be sure that the edge of the paper is firmly glued. Use the brush or a toothpick to apply more glue, if needed.

Paper-covered straws in cup dryingSet the covered straws in a paper cup or a glass while the glue dries. Depending upon the humidity, the thickness of the paper and the amount of glue used, it will take 15 minutes to an hour for the glue to dry.

Step 4: Select and Cut Ribbon Ribbon with tips cut on diagonal

While you wait for the glue to dry, select and cut ribbon for your necklace. Grosgrain ribbon works best, but you can also use satin ribbon, yarn, elastic bead cord and shoelaces. The ¼" (6 mm) ribbon will easily pass through the beads, while a ½" (10 mm) ribbon holds the beads in place and works well when you want the color of the ribbon to show between the beads.

Cut a length of ribbon 36" to 48" (90 to 120 cm) long; if you want to tie the ribbon in a bow, add another 12" to 16" (30 to 40 cm). Cut each end of the ribbon on an angle to aid in stringing the beads.

Step 5: Cut BeadsMeasure and mark straw in 3/4" (2 cm) intervals

Use a pencil and ruler to lightly mark the cuts for ¾" (2 cm) beads.

Cut beads over a cupUse sharp craft shears to cut the straw on the pencil marks. The beads will jump when they are cut from the straw, so hold the straw down into a paper cup or another container as you cut. Or let them go flying and have a fun game of pick-them-up! (Good luck finding them all.)

Step 6: String Beads String beads on ribbon

Think about how you want to arrange the beads. If you like, lay the beads out in the order you want them on the necklace. Find the center of the ribbon and start stringing the beads from both ends. If you are using ½" ribbon, you can leave space between beads where the ribbon shows; otherwise, leave no space between the beads.

Tip: Use elastic bead cord if you want to mix commercial beads with the straw beads.

Tip: When using anything other than grosgrain ribbon, the beads may scoot right off the ribbon's other end. For young children, tie a knot in the end of the yarn or shoelace with a square of cardboard right before the knot. Have the children string the beads from the other end. You can remove the knot and cardboard when they are done.

Step 7: Finish Necklace Tie ribbon in a bow

Once you have all the beads on the ribbon, check that the beads are arranged how you want. If you find any mistakes, restring the beads to correct them.

When you are satisfied with how the beads are strung, check the length of the necklace and adjust as needed. Tie the two ends of the ribbon together in a bow or a knot and cut away any excess ribbon. Trim the ends of the ribbon if they are rough-looking.

Tie a knot in the ribbonTip: To keep the beads from moving, tie a knot after the last bead on each side.

Tie a knot in elastic cord and bury the ends in the beadsTip: When using elastic bead cord and commercial beads mixed with straw beads, end the necklace with small commercial beads. Tie off the elastic cord with two square knots, trim the ends to 1" and hide the ends in the bead centers.

That's it! Your straw bead necklace is ready to wear!
Two straw bead necklaces

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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 Catherine Droog for sharing this craft idea with Aunt Annie's Craft Exchange in 1996.

Catherine shared, "This is an easy craft that can be done with young kids with supervision."

Recycled paper bead bracelets

Related craft: See how easy it is to recycle paper scraps and magazines to make colorful paper beads in the Shiny Paper Beads craft project.

Straw and wooden bead necklace

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Tip: Mix commercial wooden or glass beads with paper-covered straw beads. Use .8 mm elastic bead cord in place of the grosgrain ribbon.

1/2" wide ribbon

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Tip: If you want the ribbon to be a featured part of the necklace, use ½" grosgrain ribbon. The beads won't slip easily and can be spaced so that the ribbon shows between the beads.

Half-size straw beads

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Tip: Cut some of the straw beads in half to give your necklace a different look.

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