DIY Jewelry Craft: How to Make a Bib Necklace Using Recycled Beads Made From Magazines, Catalogs, and Maps
Your friends will never guess that this fun and colorful necklace is handmade with paper beads, created from recycled mail, maps, and magazines.
There are many ways to make paper beads. I used the method I learned at camp long ago to create a dangling beaded fringe for this stylish bib necklace. Old magazines, catalogs, and maps are handy sources and great materials for paper beads, and add rich color to this bib necklace project!
Materials for Making Paper Beads
The materials for making paper beads are pretty basic - you probably already have on hand!
- 6 to 10 full page images from magazines and catalogs (or you can use old maps!) - clothes catalogs and fashion, design, or travel magazines are all great sources of images. They usually have full page photos or illustrations with rich color, and are printed on thicker paper. You can usually make at least 20 beads from an 8 1/2 x 11 inch photo or image.
- glue stick that dries clear
- pencil or a pen and ruler
- scissors or paper cutter
- a paper clip (handy if you are doing this project with small children)
- a few sheets of scrap paper to glue on
Materials for Making Paper Bead Bib Necklace
- 60 to 80 paper beads - I used 40 inch-long beads and 20 half inch beads (see directions below)
- smaller purchased beads - these beads can be all one color and style to pull your design together, or different colors, styles, and sizes to add more variety and texture.
- package of head pins - head pins can come in a variety of lengths. I always buy the longest I can find (about 3 inches). You can always cut them shorter with wire cutters if needed.
- a necklace chain with open links and a fastener - you will be attaching your beaded fringe through the links of the chain. You can either buy a length of chain or use an old necklace. I used a necklace with large links that I could attach multiple dangling beads from, but you can use a smaller link necklace too.
- needle nose pliers and wire cutters
How to Make Your Paper Beads
To Make Inch-Long Beads
1. First, choose about six to ten images to use for your beads. I wanted my necklace to have an overall blue design, so I chose images with blue in them. However, it is impossible to guess what color each bead is going to be when finished unless you use paper that is just a solid color. I would recommend using images with colors that you like, make A LOT of beads, then choose the beads for your necklace from your collection of finished beads.
2. Working with one image at a time, measure and mark up the right hand side of your picture at inch intervals (1 inch, 2 inches, 3 inches, etc.). Start at the bottom of your image and work toward the top. See diagram for reference. You can mark and cut your image across either length-wise or width-wise. Longer triangle pieces will create wider beads.
3. On the left hand side of your image, working bottom to top, make your first mark at 1/2 inch. Then mark the rest of the sheet at 1 inch intervals (1 1/2 inch, 2 1/2 inches, 3 1/2 inches, and so forth).
4. Using a ruler, draw lines connecting the markings on the left hand side to the markings on the right hand side. You should create a series of pennant-shaped triangles.
5. Use scissors or a paper cutter to cut out your triangle shapes. Throw away the top and bottom paper pieces that are not evenly sized.
6. Continue marking and cutting your paper pieces on all your images.
7. Working with one piece at a time, take your triangle paper piece and place it face down on some scrap paper. Roll your glue stick over the last 3 inches of your pennant piece's pointy end.
As you glue your beads and your scrap paper gets sticky, replace it with a fresh sheet.
8. Then starting at the wider end of your triangle, slowly roll your paper as tight as possible. It may be a little difficult when you first start rolling your beads, but you want to make the hole down the center as small as possible. Try to keep the ends of your bead even so that the point will roll up to the center of your bead.
It may be helpful you roll your paper around a pencil before you put any glue on it just to get it to start curling. If you are making beads with small children, you can use an unfolded paper clip as a tool for them to roll the paper around to form the bead.
9. A perfectly formed bead will have the center point roll into the exact middle in the length of the bead. This will created an evenly rounded side on your bead. However, if your beads comes out uneven, they are still beautiful and interesting!
As you roll your beads, you should notice how the colors in your images are displayed on your finished beads.
To make the most of the designs in my images, I marked my photos for inch-long beads at the bottom and half-inch beads at the top of each page. This left some unmarked paper in the middle that I threw away.
10. Some people use acrylic spray finish or acrylic liquid varnish to seal, harden, and protect their paper beads. I think this can be messy and is unnecessary. I have jewelry that I made from paper beads years ago, and the beads still have held together and look fine. Just be sure that your pointy ends have glued down firmly and completely.
Making Half-Inch Long Beads
1. To make shorter and rounder beads, follow the instruction above however mark the right hand side of your image at 1/2 inch intervals (1/2 inch, 1 inch, 1 1/2 inches, 2 inches, etc.).
2. On the left hand side, make your first mark on the bottom at 1/4 of an inch. Then make the next markings every 1/2 inch (start at 3/4 inch, then 1 1/4 inches, 1 3/4 inches, 2 1/4 inches, etc.). Follow the illustration for marking and cutting your smaller beads.
Continue to follow the directions above for cutting, rolling, and gluing your beads.
Making the Beaded Fringe for Your Bib Necklace
I chose to make about 40 longer beaded fringe pieces and about 20 shorter pieces for my necklace.
For each piece of beaded fringe:
1. Take a head pin and place a small purchased bead on the bottom. The hole in your paper bead will probably be larger than the end of the head pin, so you need this smaller bead to keep it from sliding off.
2. Choose beads that compliment each other to create each beaded fringe piece. Again, you can use all the same purchased beads to create a more uniform color theme for your necklace, or you can mix it up to add more interest. I chose mainly blue and green beads to make my fringe.
3. You can layer your purchased beads with your paper beads, or use two smaller paper beads together to make a longer fringe piece.
4. Be sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of length on your head pin to make a loop attachment for your necklace.
5. Once I was finished with each piece, I put a slight bend in the wire to keep my beads in place and to stop them from rolling off.
6. As you make your fringe pieces, separate the longer ones from the shorter ones. It might be helpful to line them up by length for when you are putting your necklace together.
Assembling Your Bib Necklace
1. If your length of chain does not have a clasp, attach your fastener before connecting your beads.
2. Then lay out your chain, count the links, and find the center point of your necklace.
3. Taking the longest beaded fringe piece (or two longest pieces), hook it through center link of your necklace. My necklace links were large enough to place two fringe pieces in each link, but you can also just put one in each link.
I always connected my fringe to the bottom side of each chain link, so they all hung in an even line.
4. Use your needle nose pliers to make a loop with the end of your fringe piece's wire, and twist it around itself to connect it to your necklace chain. This might be tricky, but after attaching a few pieces, it gets easier.
The head pin wires are quite malleable and I found it easier to twist the wire with my fingers. I then used my pliers to cut any excess wire and squeeze the ends in place.
5. Continue to attach your beaded fringe to your chain, working both sides out from the center point.
6. I added two shorter fringe pieces to each end of my line of long fringe to give the edge a rounded curve.
7. Then I connected one shorter piece of fringe to the top edge of each of my chain links. This created a double row of fringe on my necklace.
I'm not sure all this detailed placement really mattered in the end. When I wear the necklace, the fringe hangs where it wants to hang, and moves with me as I move. But I think that's part of the design of this necklace.
These paper beads are extremely lightweight and fun to wear!
Copyright © 2014 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.