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
MIX YOUR DIPPING LIQUID:
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.