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Hand-Dyed Paper Beads - An Upcycle Project with Gorgeous Results

Updated on February 11, 2015
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Upcycled Paper Beads - Natural and Beautiful

I received the lovely oak leaf pendant in this picture as a gift a few years ago from some dear family members. I really wanted to honor the gift they gave me by creating a beautiful design around it. It's taken me several years, but I think I have finally found the right design. The natural look of the 3-hole pendant is enhanced by these hand-rolled, hand-dyed, and upcycled beads.

I am always looking for new, appealing and practical ways to reuse this plentiful resource, because I hate the idea of it just going into the landfill. My husband and I have figured out a number of ways to reuse and upcycle packaging paper. I think this one is the best so far! On this page, I'll share with you how I created paper beads out of the packaging paper, dyed the beads, and turned them into the wearable art you see here.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this project!

The Perfect Paper Bead Making Book to Spark Your Creativity - on Amazon

The BIG book of Paper Beads
The BIG book of Paper Beads
The BIG Book of Paper Beads really expanded my knowledge of paper beads - shapes, sizes, styles. You name it, this book has a picture, description, history, and/or design it's been used in. I love it for the color photos and inspiration and highly recommend it. With this book in your hand, you will definitely be excited about paper beads!
 

Have you ever made paper beads of any kind?

Have you ever made paper beads of any kind?

See results

Making the Beads

Make Lovely Dyed Beads from Packaging Paper

Click thumbnail to view full-size
You recognize this stuff! Pull it out of the box, smooth it out and prepare yourself for beadmaking fun.Cut a 12"x12" square of packaging paper (white or natural). Then cut your strips. I cut white paper strips 1" on one end and natural paper trips 3/4".Begin rolling at the wide end. Use a toothpick or a paper clip for something to get the roll started if you need it.Keep rolling your bead, making sure it's nice and tight, until you have a tab of about 1" left.Dip the end of the tab in Mod Podge or other glue, finish the roll, pressing the end down, and allow to dry completely.I used simple food coloring for dye - 9 drops green & 3 drops blue in about 1/2 cup water. Experimenting with colors is fun!The final color varies. The darker beads started as "natural" brown kraft paper. The lighter ones were white paper with a kind of shiny finish on it.Now for the Paper Clip Trick. Straighten paper clips to hold your beads for painting and hands-free drying.Straighten a bunch of paper clips. They don't have to be perfect... just straight enough for your beads to slide easily on and off.Slide the beads onto a paper clip and brush a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over each bead.Bend the end of the paper clip so when you hang the clip, the beads stay on.Slide the large hook end of the clip between magazines or books and let the beads hang over a ledge until they dry.Repeat the process several times until you have 4-6 coats of Mod Podge on the beads and they're smooth. Allow to dry completely before going on.
You recognize this stuff! Pull it out of the box, smooth it out and prepare yourself for beadmaking fun.
You recognize this stuff! Pull it out of the box, smooth it out and prepare yourself for beadmaking fun. | Source
Cut a 12"x12" square of packaging paper (white or natural). Then cut your strips. I cut white paper strips 1" on one end and natural paper trips 3/4".
Cut a 12"x12" square of packaging paper (white or natural). Then cut your strips. I cut white paper strips 1" on one end and natural paper trips 3/4". | Source
Begin rolling at the wide end. Use a toothpick or a paper clip for something to get the roll started if you need it.
Begin rolling at the wide end. Use a toothpick or a paper clip for something to get the roll started if you need it. | Source
Keep rolling your bead, making sure it's nice and tight, until you have a tab of about 1" left.
Keep rolling your bead, making sure it's nice and tight, until you have a tab of about 1" left. | Source
Dip the end of the tab in Mod Podge or other glue, finish the roll, pressing the end down, and allow to dry completely.
Dip the end of the tab in Mod Podge or other glue, finish the roll, pressing the end down, and allow to dry completely. | Source
I used simple food coloring for dye - 9 drops green & 3 drops blue in about 1/2 cup water. Experimenting with colors is fun!
I used simple food coloring for dye - 9 drops green & 3 drops blue in about 1/2 cup water. Experimenting with colors is fun! | Source
The final color varies. The darker beads started as "natural" brown kraft paper. The lighter ones were white paper with a kind of shiny finish on it.
The final color varies. The darker beads started as "natural" brown kraft paper. The lighter ones were white paper with a kind of shiny finish on it. | Source
Now for the Paper Clip Trick. Straighten paper clips to hold your beads for painting and hands-free drying.
Now for the Paper Clip Trick. Straighten paper clips to hold your beads for painting and hands-free drying. | Source
Straighten a bunch of paper clips. They don't have to be perfect... just straight enough for your beads to slide easily on and off.
Straighten a bunch of paper clips. They don't have to be perfect... just straight enough for your beads to slide easily on and off. | Source
Slide the beads onto a paper clip and brush a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over each bead.
Slide the beads onto a paper clip and brush a thin, even layer of Mod Podge over each bead. | Source
Bend the end of the paper clip so when you hang the clip, the beads stay on.
Bend the end of the paper clip so when you hang the clip, the beads stay on. | Source
Slide the large hook end of the clip between magazines or books and let the beads hang over a ledge until they dry.
Slide the large hook end of the clip between magazines or books and let the beads hang over a ledge until they dry. | Source
Repeat the process several times until you have 4-6 coats of Mod Podge on the beads and they're smooth. Allow to dry completely before going on.
Repeat the process several times until you have 4-6 coats of Mod Podge on the beads and they're smooth. Allow to dry completely before going on. | Source

Mod Podge Tip

The first coat of Mod Podge makes the paper fibers sharp and scratchy. Keep adding coats until the beads are smooth and wearable.

Don't worry! The Mod Podge dries quickly so it doesn't take long to put on multiple layers.

Cutting Tip for Paper Strips

For easy cutting of paper strips: On one edge of the paper square, put hash marks ever inch starting at one inch. Then on the opposite edge of the paper, make hash marks every inch starting at 1/2 inch. Draw diagonal lines between the staggered hash marks.

Adjust as needed for different widths of paper beads.

Paper Bead Roller Kit

Forrest Gold Paper Bead Girl 1/16" Roller Kit
Forrest Gold Paper Bead Girl 1/16" Roller Kit
Honestly, you don't need this kit. However, for young hands, older hands, or any hands that have difficulty with small motor function, I highly recommend this kit. The tool is easy to hold and use, which also makes it easier for beginning bead makers. I also really like how this kit helps beginners get started with fabric beads. Of any of the kits I've seen or used, this is by far my favorite!
 

Making the Necklace

Supplies for this Project

Here is a complete list of supplies you'll need for this project

  • 3-hole pendant - Choose a pendant with a little weight, so the necklace will hang nicer. This one is from Dorabeth Designs (see link below)
  • Silkon Nylon Thread - brown
  • 1 headpin
  • Split rings
  • 1 tiger eye bead
  • 3mm silver-plated cord ends
  • Lobster-claw clasp
  • Handmade paper beads

Beadaholique 20-Piece Fold Over Cord Ends for Ribbon, 3mm, Silver
Beadaholique 20-Piece Fold Over Cord Ends for Ribbon, 3mm, Silver
Add just a drop of super glue or jewelry glue inside these cord ends, and they'll hold fast and look great in your jewelry design.
 
Dorabeth Designs
Dorabeth Designs | Source

Dorabeth Designs

My brother-in-law and his soon-to-be wife gave me this pendant as a gift. I loved it immediately, but it took me years to figure out just the right way to use it. In my eyes, this necklace is the perfect design for it.

I love the 3-hole pendant because of the many design possibilities it offers. The component itself is beautifully handcrafted of pewter and is completely nickel-free, which can be a concern for people with metal allergies.

If you like the leaf pendant I used here (tutorial below), you can find this and many more handcrafted beading components from Dorabeth Designs at Antelope Beads.

Making the Necklace

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Gather your supplies - listed above.Cut two 17" lengths of nylon thread. Thread 1 strand through pendant and tie an overhand knot. Cinch it close to the pendant. Repeat on other side.Add a drop in the third, downward hole of the pendant using the tiger eye bead and head pin. See video below for further instructions.String the beads on the double strands of nylon thread.Finish the ends with the crimp ends, split rings, and lobster claw style clasp. A second video is provided below if you need help in how to do this.Your dyed, upcycled paper bead necklace ready to wear.
Gather your supplies - listed above.
Gather your supplies - listed above. | Source
Cut two 17" lengths of nylon thread. Thread 1 strand through pendant and tie an overhand knot. Cinch it close to the pendant. Repeat on other side.
Cut two 17" lengths of nylon thread. Thread 1 strand through pendant and tie an overhand knot. Cinch it close to the pendant. Repeat on other side. | Source
Add a drop in the third, downward hole of the pendant using the tiger eye bead and head pin. See video below for further instructions.
Add a drop in the third, downward hole of the pendant using the tiger eye bead and head pin. See video below for further instructions. | Source
String the beads on the double strands of nylon thread.
String the beads on the double strands of nylon thread. | Source
Finish the ends with the crimp ends, split rings, and lobster claw style clasp. A second video is provided below if you need help in how to do this.
Finish the ends with the crimp ends, split rings, and lobster claw style clasp. A second video is provided below if you need help in how to do this. | Source
Your dyed, upcycled paper bead necklace ready to wear.
Your dyed, upcycled paper bead necklace ready to wear. | Source

Beading Tutorials for this Project

HOW TO USE A HEAD PIN

This is a good, clear video for how to use a head pin. Just make sure that you thread the head pin through the 3rd hole of the pendant before you start wrapping unless you want to use a jump ring connector.

HOW TO FINISH A LEATHER OR CORD NECKLACE

This is a good set of instructions for finishing your necklace. I substitute split rings in place of jump rings because I like the added security. Use what you like!

Do you like the idea of making paper beads like these?

Do you like the idea of making paper beads like these?

See results
working

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