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.
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.
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.
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.
Tip: Be sure that the edge of the paper is firmly glued. Use the brush or a toothpick to apply more glue, if needed.
Set 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.
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.
Use a pencil and ruler to lightly mark the cuts for ¾" (2 cm) beads.
Use 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.)
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.
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.
Tip: 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!