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Paper Bead Jewelry


Paper Beads: They're Colorful, Unique, Interesting and Waterproof!

Instructions have been edited to fit this website. For more detail, techniques and sources, you can see the directions and get materials here.

Use a letter size sheet of paper with a pattern, photo or decoration on one side. For maximum durability, use 20# copy paper. When you dip the rolled bead in to the sealer, the paper fibers will bond tightly.

STEP 1: cut the paper in a series of "v" shapes across the page. Allow at least 1/2" for the widest end and taper your smallest end to a point. (see diagram below) Try not to make your bead wider than 1 1/2" for stability. (unless you are going to have some sort of reinforcing core, like a pen refill, a straw or a cardboard tube) Use decorative edged scissors for a more interesting look.

STEP 2 Beginning 1/8” in from the widest end, apply a glue stick to the unprinted side of the paper. Smear it all the way to the tip. This will give you a temporary bond until you glaze the bead.

STEP 3 If you have a cotter pin (similar to a bobby pin, but thicker), thread the unglued part of the wide end through the two sides to hold it while you wrap. OR you can use 2 thick wires joined at one end, wood skewers, even long-nosed pliers if they are not tapered. Whatever you use, it needs to hold the unglued edge tightly while you wrap the rest of the paper around to make a bead.

STEP 4 Starting at the wide end, tightly roll the paper towards the narrow end, wrapping each layer around the previous one tightly (and centered) to create a nice taper.Carefully remove the wrapped bead from your wire and put it aside. If you find that the bead sticks to the wire when you try and pull it off, then allow ¼” before you start your glue stick coverage.


In a tall, resealable plastic container, mix about 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of a water-based sealer made for wood or paper. If your mixture just barely drips when you dip your finger in it, then the proportions are correct.

I recommend using a water-based polyurethane designed for finishing outdoor decks – it provides the most durable result and you can buy it in a quart can. How much water you mix into the sealer depends on how thick the mixture is. You want it thick enough to coat well, but thin enough not to leave drips on the beads.

Using a smooth aluminum or plastic tube, slide the beads on, keeping them apart from each other with tape or plastic wrap. About 3-4 beads per "stick" is best. Dip the beads into the mixture and let dry for at least 10 minutes. For best results, I recommend that you dip the beads no less than 5 times, allowing 10-15 minutes drying between them.

The paper will become brighter and the color more saturated as you go. If you want to feel a smooth bead with no ridges, then you may need to dip the bead 8 or 9 times. The bead will feel very hard when it is dry.

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