I made a paper-bead tutorial a year ago during a sleepless season. It was so popular, I couldn’t believe it. I ran a class at my studio and also gave a talk and workshop at the local women’s group about it. And then to my total surprise, I was approached by the wonderful Mahe Zehra Husein of AlteredUpcycling.com and asked if I’d put together an upcycled project for her publication The Book of Books. Obviously, I was ridiculously excited to be included and got to work straight away, adapting the paper beaded bracelet by making it from pages from a book. It’s one of my quickest but favourite makes to date. And oh so stylish. My primary photograph was even featured on the front page! There I am in the bottom left hand corner!
I’ve included the tutorial again below, with the free printable patterns. But it’s definitely worth popping over to see what Mahe is up to at the moment, too!
- Printed pattern x1 for a bracelet or more for a necklace, depending on length.
- PVA glue
- cocktail sticks or skewers
- shellac / varnish /Mod Podge (optional but recommended for longevity)
- beading thread or elastic
- seed beads (optional)
1. Print your pattern and cut out the skinny triangles.
2. Choose a triangle and start to roll it on to the cocktail stick, wide end first. DO NOT USE GLUE YET as it will stick your bead to the stick. (Ask me how I know!) Once you’ve done half an inch or so, you can add a spot of glue. It doesn’t matter too much if it oozes a little, because you can smooth it over the bead with your fingers. But don’t go wild.
I actually prefer to switch to roll with my thumb at this point – I seem to be able to keep the bead tighter this way. I turn the stick with my right hand and use my thumb to press the paper down. As you get towards the end of the strip add another little dot of glue to secure the tail.
3.Your bead is now complete. Poke the end of the cocktail stick into something soft to hold it upright while the glue finishes drying. Take up your next skinny triangle and a new cocktail stick and repeat from step 1 until you have sufficient beads.
4. Once all the beads are made and dried, cover them with a coat of lacquer or mod-podge or varnish. This is optional but it will mean that you can wear your bracelet out in the rain. The beads are made of paper, so they’re never going to survive a bath! But you can keep them looking smart for a long time by giving them a coating of something. You could also make them lovely and shiny, if that’s your thing. Me, I prefer a matte finish, so I used a good quality gel matte medium to coat mine. (Don’t use a cheap one or they’ll end up sticky for ever!)
5. Again, once the drying time is done, you’re ready to string them up. Use anything that takes your fancy. Beading thread, ribbon, elastic, leather thong, embroidery thread even dental floss (not dental tape – it breaks too easily- and probably better to choose the non-minty type!) will all work. I alternated my paper beads with tiny glass seed beads for a bit of extra pretty.
To finish off: if you’re using elastic then just tie a knot. You can see mine there on the left – it will slip under a bead and become invisible once I’ve finished. If you’re using a non-stretchy type of thread, then you’ll need to engineer yourself a clasp of some sort. An extra bead through a loop works well. Or a button and loop. Or just a pretty bow if it’s a ribbon. There are some other ideas for fastenings right here.
If you’re here from Handmade Monday over at Lucy Blossom Crafts, HELLO THERE! Do drop me a lime to say hi! (And if you’d be interested in doing a guest blogging exchange with me, email email@example.com)