How to make paper beads

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Welcome back to a thrifty and upcycled How To Make Paper Beads from Magazines. Magazine beads are a popular craft amongst children and teens…but in fact they originated in Africa, where people make them for a living.

How to make magazine beads - a wonderful activity for kids. #magazine beads #beads #recycling #paper #paperbeads
These magazine beads were first published in Jan 2012 (gosh!) and have been updated and republished for you today!!

So just because children make them in the “Western World”, don’t “knock them” until you have had a go. They are fun. Easy. Frugal. Colourful and above all provide a bit of much needed upcycling. They are good use for any type of old paper – we love easy Paper Crafts for kids!

I made mine child friendly – i.e. with a nice wide opening so that my children can manage the beading… but you can make them as neat as you like – using a toothpick as a centre. More great recycled crafts for kids here.

What can I make using paper beads?

Scroll to the bottom of the article for some great uses for these paper beads (including links and images!) – but to give you some ideas to get you started – these paper beads are great for:

  • DIY jewelry, like a bracelet or a necklace
  • Decorating a box or picture frame
  • Bead curtains for windows or as room dividers

What kind of paper is best for paper beads?

We LOVE using old magazine paper – as you can co-ordinate the colours to make different coloured beads. But this is the kind of craft, where experimenting is fun too! Try newspaper, old wrapping paper, scraps of printer paper or even wallpaper! They will all result in slightly different thicknesses and textures but it is fun to experiment.

Supplies needed to make Magazine Beads

  • Old colourful magazine pages or any type of paper/ scrap paper,
  • A pair of scissors,
  • A ruler and pencil are handy but not essential
  • PVA glue (white glue) like Mod Podge or a glue stick
  • A straw or two (use toothpicks/ skewer/ dowel/ knitting needles to make more “adult” beads or a pencil if making large beads for toddlers)

You don’t need a paper bead template! Though if you search online, you can find someone if you prefer to use those!

How to make Magazine Beads

You can either watch the How To Make Paper Beads Video tutorial.. or follow the steps by step instructions, using photos outlined below!

Red Ted (almost 4) wanted to have a go and could ALMOST do it. But not quite. However, he is more than capable of beading!

Step by Step Photo Tutorial for making Magazine Beads

Make your paper strips

1. Cut long thing triangle shapes. You want the two long sides to be as similar as possible It is the thin edge of the triangle, that give the beads the thickness around the middle, as well as changing colour patterns.

I made the lower edge of the triangle about 1-1.5cm wide. This gives you the bead width.

We used one of the smaller format magazines and cut across the page. But try out different sizes and see what bead dimension you like.

Cut out lots of these triangle strips of paper.

Start rolling your paper beads

2. Using you straw or a toothpick, take a strip of paper and wrap the wide end of the magazine around a couple of times, then start adding pva glue to stick it all down nicely. Avoid adding PVA glue to the straw or toothpick, else the bead will stick to this. Having said that, with the straw it doesn’t matter, as you can cut it and leave it inside the bead. This makes it easier if you are working with children.

Secure the strip of paper with glue to make the bead

3. Once you get to the tip of the triangle and your strip of paper is used up, carefully add another layer of PVA to secure the tip of the triangle. Then slide off your straw and put them down to dry. I found they were fine on a plate. Try to get them not to touch or  they may stick to each other.

Done! Your have just made the first of your handmade paper beads! If you like you can paint them, but we LOVE the colours that you get from the magazines. Such a wonderful traditional craft to give a go with the kids!

Love the patterns you get.

Crafts using paper beads

Here are some examples of people getting really good at these beads – they are not “how tos”, but examples of people getting very good at these (click on the image to find out more):

Paper bead jewelry is the most popular use for paper beads

paper bead

(I love how in the last image – the bead ornament, Sun Hat & Wellie Boots made their beading pre-schooler friendly! Red Ted can look and learn!)

So, what do you think? Will give making magazine beads a go?

More recycled crafts here:

The video tutorial is also available on YouTube:

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