I’ve been making paper beads for the last couple of months – it started because I wanted to find a cheap, simple activity to teach at a workshop, and has since developed into just me making beads because it’s easy, basically free, and I love seeing the results. I haven’t done ANYTHING with them yet, I just have a box full.
Amy taught me to make them in the first place – and also told me you can find amazing tutorials online to make more and more complicated beads. It’s basically one of those crafts which is as easy or as difficult as you want it to be, and practice only makes you better.
So it’s my craft of the week this week, and here’s how you do it. I highly recommends trying it with children, because they can then be used another day to make jewellery with. I’m going to try and make pictures out of them eventually, so I’ll share the results when I manage that…
WHAT YOU NEED
- Paper – the best stuff to use is matt paper, and nothing too thick. I used a Charlie & Lola comic (is there nothing you can’t do with them?)
- A stick of some sort – I use a wooden bamboo skewer, but a knitting needle would work. Be careful it’s not sharp if doing this with children!
- Glue stick – you might be tempted to use another sort of glue, but I really wouldn’t recommend it to start with.
NB I don’t use the ruler, pencil and scissors any more – I cut multiple sheets of paper into the right shape using my guillotine – once you get more confident I highly recommend buying a guillotine if you work with paper a lot. I got mine here on eBay and it’s paid for itself in time alone.
- First, you need to make your paper into triangles. This is what your pencil, ruler and scissors are for. The easiest way is to measure 2cm intervals on the bottom of the sheet of paper, and then measure 2cm intervals on the top, starting 1cm in. Then you join them up at angles.This image from bigbeadlittlebead.com shows this method with 3cm intervals, but you can make it any size you like.
- Once you have triangles, however you want to make them, it’s time to start.
- Start by putting the wider edge against the stick, and flip it a couple of times using the stick. I’m finding this impossible to explain, but basically you want to get the end of the paper starting to roll, a bit like you do if you’re curling wrapping ribbon.
- Next keep rolling the paper tightly around the stick. This is probably the hardest thing to get right – at first the paper will be very loose, and keep flipping off, or it won’t roll straight and you keep getting weird shaped beads. KEEP AT IT. Some of these mistakes are my favourite beads anyway, but if you keep practising, they become more neat.
- When you get a couple of inches from the pointy end, stop rolling. Put the paper onto something you don’t mind getting dirty, and swipe the glue stick over the paper that’s left.
- Carry on rolling up, until you’ve used all the paper. Make sure it’s all straightly rolled, and press the pointed bit down hard. Then sort of roll the bead and make sure all the paper is stuck down and you’re happy with it.
- Leave it for a second or two, then take it carefully off the stick, and leave to dry completely.
- You can then varnish it if you like, but I’ve left mine all unvarnished as I’m not sure what fate awaits them yet.
I’d love to see what you come up with! Have a look online for other tutorials, as they’ll show different shapes of triangles. Make them as wide, or as narrow as you like, one sided for cones, square edges for tubes…