Make Your Own Beads From Paper or Bread
Recycling and Repurposing
I love creating my own everything, including jewelry, and just for the fun of it I checked into making my own paper beads. I love the idea of recycling and repurposing instead of contributing to the already overused landfills. In one video I saw how to make them using white paper colored purposely with permanent markers. These look great and are uniform. It seemed to me that the paper was cut rather wide and made HUGE beads, which isn’t what I was looking for really.
Then I tried recycling magazine and catalog pages. They are colorful, usually printed on nice weight glossy paper and are certainly plentiful. The results were very exciting. Although they weren’t all uniform in color, they were pretty and interesting and fairly uniform in size and shape. I created 34 to 36 beads from each piece of 8.5”x11” paper magazine page. That means one magazine can go a long, long way.
First, cut the pages in half-inch strips. Each of those strips should be cut in half from corner to corner creating two long wedges from each half-inch strip. For kids projects, it may be prudent to cut the paper for them and then let them do the rolling and gluing. I like to use a large paper cutter but scissors would work just find too. The paper cutter makes the job neater and faster. I got to where I could eye-ball it rather than measure exactly.
Triangular Shape Strips
This triangular shape gives you a nice oval-shaped bead. You can make a more cylinder shaped bead by just leaving the paper rectangular. I cut several at ¼ inch strips for these beads. None of the colors in the magazine pages will show on this shaped bead until the last half to ¾ of an inch; so focus on that last little bit being the color you want your bead to have. For me, this meant that I would sometimes cut off the last half inch white border on a piece of paper in order to purposefully have color in the last bit rolled into the bead.
Next, color the edges with a marker if desired or leave the paper as it is, with magazine pages especially. I look for pages with less text and more photos to get the best beads.
Roll the strips of paper using a round toothpick or a special notched tool made especially for the purpose of paper bead making. I got mine for a very reasonable price at a craft store. They often sell several millimeter sizes for beads with larger center holes or smaller ones, as you like.
Roll the strip wedges up from the wide end to the point, keeping the point in the middle of the roll. At the end, add a small dab of white glue to the last half-inch to an inch and finish the roll. To dry, place them on a toothpick standing up in a piece of foam or corkboard, or just drop them into a bowl.
When the glue is dry, paint a thin layer of Diamond Glaze to give the bead permanence and a glossy sheen. I like the Diamond Glaze for its glassy finish but if you want a more matte finish, buy some other glaze. After the first layer of Diamond Glaze is dry, add another coat and a third when I want a very shiny glassy bead.
Remove the beads from the toothpicks and string at your pleasure.
Variations On A Theme
Add a little glitter then add the Diamond Glaze over the glitter to seal it.
Add a few dots of colored nail polish for added flair and design. Cover this with the Diamond Glaze to seal it. You can even put the nail enamel over the Diamond Glaze. Nail enamel has its own permanence.
Add some embroidery thread or string for added texture. Seal the thread once it is dry with the Diamond Glaze.
Add some craft wire for fun. Seal the wire and bead together with Diamond Glaze.
These make perfect little projects for small fingers. The stringing is fun too.
Bread Clay Beads
Another recipe for homemade beads for jewelry is bread clay. The clay is made from old or stale white bread with the crust removed. I add 1 tablespoon of Elmer’s glue to every slice of white bread broken up in a bowl. When I used this recipe in large classrooms, I mixed up 1 cup of glue for a whole loaf of white bread.
Mixing Bread Clay
Mix this up with your hands and knead until a smooth ball is formed. Halfway through the mixing, it will be sticky and lumpy, making you feel you must have done something wrong. Don’t worry. Keep mixing. The bread will eventually absorb the glue and will form a neat little dough ball. To this ball, I like to add a drop of food coloring or watercolor paint and mix until thoroughly distributed in the ball of dough. As the white glue dries it becomes clear, so the color you have added will become more intense and bolder.
Smells Like Bread
The children loved this clay. It smells like a sandwich and probably won’t hurt anyone if they should take a bite of it, but I always discouraged children from eating the clay because of the glue content.
To Make Beads
To make beads, you can roll long thin worms and roll them up on a toothpick, or roll little marbles and skewer them with the toothpick. Don’t leave the toothpick in the bead overnight as it shrinks as it dries and you won’t be able to get the toothpick out the next day. Make sure the hole is large enough for the string and needle to go through, remembering it does shrink.
Make Great Gifts
Allow the finished beads to dry overnight depending on the thickness. If you have made something larger than a ½ inch thick allow it to dry for a couple of days. It dries rock hard and should be varnished with something like Diamond Glaze when it is thoroughly dry. I found over the years that little grain moths will lay eggs and the larva will eat little tunnels in the bread clay if it isn’t varnished. These make lovely Mother’s Day gifts and are easy enough for the youngest of children to make something successful with.
Store Clay In Refrigerator
This is one of my favorite creative clay recipes because it is so versatile. The children can safely play with it and make all kinds of little things with it. Keep the clay in a plastic bag while working with it. It starts to dry right away. It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week before it begins to mold. It is, after all, just bread.
Let me know if you have created something with this recipe. I’d love to hear about your project.