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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

Paper Bead Girl Roller Kit, 1/16-Inch
Paper Bead Girl Roller Kit, 1/16-Inch

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

What do you think about this way of upcycling packaging paper?

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    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 3 years ago from France

      This is so clever - I would have never thought of making anything like this from paper for some reason, but why not! The result is fantastic. What a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing. :0)

    • profile image

      Ibidii 3 years ago

      Yes, my Mom and I made these in the early 1970s from wrapping paper. They looked great. We did not know about the mod podge at the time. Next time I make them for bracelets I will use the mod podge to preserve them! Great lens!

    • Corrinna-Johnson profile image

      Corrinna Johnson 3 years ago from BC, Canada

      Beautiful! I have always wanted to learn how to make paper beads!

    • Maggie42 profile image

      Maggie42 3 years ago

      Thanks I didn't even know paper beads existed I'm impressed by how good they look

    • Joanne Reid profile image

      Joanne Reid 3 years ago from Prince Edward Island/Arizona

      I have a pair of earrings made of this paper but until now had no idea what they were made from. I just know that they are lovely and now, well, I think I will give this a try. Thank you for the great lens.

    • profile image

      ColettaTeske 3 years ago

      Thank you for the great tutorial. I will be trying your bead making technique soon!

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from chichester

      I think this is such a great idea and they look really beautiful. Congratulations on your LOTD :)

    • topclimb lm profile image

      topclimb lm 3 years ago

      What a fun and beautiful way to recycle paper! Thanks for taking the time to create the lens and and congratulations on LotD. :-)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I love it! Your finished product is beautiful and the how-to pictures are great, too. What a wonderful project. Congratulations on your very impressive Lens of the Day!

    • jennabee25 profile image

      Jenn Dixon 3 years ago from PA

      Well done! I actually have done paper beads myself. I cut them the same way you did. I rolled them with a toothpick, gave them dot of craft glue on the end, and sprayed some shiny acrylic spray on them.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Amazing! What a beautiful project and excellent how-to! Congratulations on well deserved Lens of the Day. The beads look like fun to make. The instructions are so well done. Pinning this. Really love it!

    • profile image

      DebMartin 3 years ago

      Paper beads. Imagine! I love your work in the opening photo. Just lovely. A good winter project, I think.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Very creative and useful. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 3 years ago

      I use magazines for my beads, but I must try your method. I cut my strips with a simple lap size paper cutter while I watch TV. I touch up the edges of the paper with marker or paint and then roll them on a big eyed needle because I found they stuck a bit on toothpicks. I seal them with a little Elmer's and then paint over them with clear nail polish. Congratulations on LotD

    • Demaw profile image

      Demaw 3 years ago

      I love using recycled paper for many projects. Now I am decoupaging some boxes. Paper beads are great for sensitive people.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 3 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      This is a great idea. I have made paper beads before using scraps of scrapbook paper.That works okay too.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! What a great idea project...will certainly try it!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Congrats! Awesome craft idea. Amazing how such simple and inexpensive materials became something so lovely.

    • astevn816 lm profile image

      astevn816 lm 3 years ago

      this looks like a fun craft project, I'll try this

    • Pat Broker profile image

      Pat Broker 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I'm not the most crafty, but I might be able to do this. The results are beautiful!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      I love paper crafts and I love jewelry, so the combination is right up my alley.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Congrats of LOTD. I love this. Great ideas.

    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 3 years ago

      Wow they really look so pretty!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 3 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      We made these using wallpaper samples when I was a kid. LOVE paper beads!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Good idea but no appeal to me! Well done LOTD though!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Good idea but no appeal to me! Well done LOTD though!

    • profile image

      burntchestnut 3 years ago

      This would be a great craft project for summer camp, seniors in retirement homes, in school art classes, and much more. I love the idea, although, I'm not much of a craft person.

    • bilbobaggins87 profile image

      bilbobaggins87 3 years ago

      Great idea. I will actually try this

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a beautiful and creative way to make jewelry! Congrats on your well deserved LOTD!

    • nicenet profile image

      nicey 3 years ago

      These crafts are gorgeous!

    • profile image

      nonya222 3 years ago

      Fantastic! I love the beads, how beautiful.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      What a creative idea and they're so beautiful. Congrats on LOTD!

    • Terry Boroff profile image

      Terry Boroff (flipflopnana) 3 years ago from FL

      Can't wait to make some!

    • Christian DuBois profile image

      Christian DuBois 3 years ago from New York

      Wow, as a child of the 70's this takes me right back to summer art camps of the day. I think we used newspaper back then along with making candles, pet rocks and other hippie crafts. I will share this with my toddlers this summer! Great LOTD!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      I wonder how the paper beads would turn out if dipped in melted wax. Your project sure turned out lovely.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I always wondered how the paper beads were made. Thanks for the tutorial

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from London UK

      I love this idea - I only wish I had more time to make them!! Maybe one day! Nice lens thanks for your tips.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I live with a paper beader! We have a gallon jar full of colorful beads, and there are always new ones popping up. It really is a fun and beautiful way to re-purpose discarded paper.

    • fibonacci1123 profile image

      fibonacci1123 3 years ago

      I love the idea! Upcycling some paper into something so fantastic--great lens. Bravo.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      I first saw the idea of crafting paper beads when I published my Amazima charity lens. The Ugandan women sell paper bead jewelry to support their children. Of course, that made me fall in love with the idea (and their lovely necklaces). You really found the perfect look for your pendant. Congrats on LotD!

    • profile image

      doomsdoors 3 years ago

      I've been meaning to make some paper beads but just haven't got to it yet. I think this post is going to change that.

    • NellyWerff profile image

      Nelly van der Werff 3 years ago from The Netherlands

      Great idea!

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Great idea. I do some beading, but am not advanced at it -- yet. I would love to try this, and am about to pin it onto my arts board at MiaMiaDesigns on Pinterest. Thank you for the instructions.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Anything that recycles paper, plastic, or whatever, is a good thing. I think this is quite a craft to learn to do, and can be quite beautiful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Beautiful designs, should try to create something like this for my two daughters :)

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 3 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      Wanting to give this idea a try

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I like how the packing paper was used. I would probably just leave it its normal neutral color without any dye because I wear a lot of autumn colors and brown is a common base shade for me. Great idea!

    • profile image

      ecowhale 3 years ago

      Much better than what the department stores offer which is imported and over packaged junk made with slave labor and with a 1,000% markup.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 3 years ago

      This would be a fun and useful project to do with my kids this summer.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 2 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Awesome, and thank you for your clear instructions and tips. You made a great page here. Thanks!

    • SilverLotus1 profile image

      SilverLotus1 2 years ago

      great lens - thanks!

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 2 years ago from Texas USA

      I've been playing with paper beads recently. It's actually relaxing to do them. I need to step up to the next task on the list which is to glaze them. Love your hub.

    • AcornOakForest profile image
      Author

      Monica Lobenstein 2 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      @Arachnea, I agree. It can be very soothing to simply roll one paper bead after another. Before you know it, there are a ton of beads sitting in front of you and a calm heart. Thanks for visiting!

    • noner profile image

      noner 2 years ago

      I've made paper beads for a while using magazine pages. I have been planning on turning some of my sons old finger paint art into paper beads too, but before this I have NEVER thought about making the beads and then dying them! Ill have to try this some time soon.

    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 2 years ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      I discovered paper beads when I began caring for my Dad. I needed a distraction and a way to relax. It was delightful and I was addicted. My eyes are always open for various colored papers. I have to make myself throw stuff out because everything I see looks like it could make beautiful beads. And it's such a great way to recycle too.

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