One of the things I’ve been trying to be more mindful of + better at while cutting up books + magazines + use up my free junk mail art supply stash is to really USE as much of the magazine as possible.
While yes, there’s nothing wrong with just throwing the scraps in the recycling bin – I really feel like with everything in the world being so crazy expensive it is worthwhile to use what we have as much as we can instead of buying craft supplies.
Also, I’m in stashbusting mode – which means I need to USE as much stuff as I possibly can before the end of the year is up!
Paper beads are an awesome solution for this because you can either just cut out strips for paper beads as you go through magazines cutting out images for glue books and journaling and collage, or you opt to make a big stack of pages + cut a bunch of them out in one go with a rotary cutter, sizzix or even a paper cutter.
Watch a Video of Me Making Paper Beads
I made a video on YouTube for how to make paper beads. You can watch it here if you like or open the video How to Make Paper Beads in a new tab on YouTube.
All the Many Awesome Things to Make With Paper Beads
Really, you can make a ton of awesome things with paper beads – you can use them for making jewelry, you can use them to decorate paper clips, you can add them to tassles or book marks – if you really want to get crazy + let your inner hippie shine through you could even bead a whole strand of curtains with them!
(Although, as I learned while flipping through an old antique needlecraft book published in 1893 – the whole beaded curtain thing was popular way before the 1960’s + 1970’s! They called it a portière back then, because it was the fancy Victorian era.)
I want to hopefully try to make some paper bead ornaments for Christmas this year also – I don’t know how quite that will work out yet – or what I would even make – but I bet it would be fun to try, wouldn’t it?
Paper beads are one of those awesome portable couch/bed projects you can do too – grab your paper bead rollers, cut out magazine papers, and a bottle of glue and you can watch a movie, listen to an audio book or even catch up talking with a friend while you make them.
It’s the perfect thing to make when you want to keep your hands busy but your mind doesn’t need to focus too much on what you’re creating!
What I Use to Make Paper Beads
There are a lot of ways to make paper beads, and you can make these with just a toothpick and some scissors but I’m getting to be an old lady and so I actually use paper bead rollers and a couple of other nifty tricks to cut the paper.
Paper Bead Rollers Are Awesome
This set of paper bead rollers is the one I purchased and while they are kind of an investment, I use them enough + find making the beads addicting enough that it was worth it!
They are especially great if you do a lot of typing or other work that’s sometimes brutal on the wrists + joints like I do!
And, if you are really concerned about any kind of stress on your hands or wrists in making these, Craft Innovation on Etsy also offers a really awesome paper bead rolling machine.
I have the machine and love it – but I have to admit I don’t use as often as my paper bead rollers just because the rollers are so much smaller + more portable. The machine though is great – especially if you’re trying to make a LOT of beads!
Cutting Tools for Paper Beads
The other thing that I use for making paper beads are the different cutting tools I use.
Cutting them out with scissors is totally possible – and a lot of times I will do that if I have some extra scraps while I’m cutting out magazine images for collage or gluebooks – but there are a couple of things that make it very easy to quickly cut out your strips!
Rotary Cutter + Stack of Magazine Papers
When I have junk mail magazines that I know I’m probably not going to read or even cut anything out of, I will make a stack of maybe 10-12 pages and then position them so I cut them at an angle with my rotary cutter, quilting ruler and my cutting mat.
I’ve used a lot of different rotary cutters over the years + my favorite + the one I use the most is probably my Fiskars 60 mm Titanium rotary cutter. It’s great for quilt batting if you’re ever cutting that for slow stitch projects, and it’s also great for paper! You’ll probably want to invest in some replacement blades though!
Paper Bead Sizzix Dies
If you have a Sizzix machine (and I LOVE my Big Shot Plus! – if you don’t have one yet, get the Starter Kit! Watch for sales!) – I recently discovered + ordered some paper bead cutting dies from The Stamp Doctor.
I haven’t even used them all yet (I was pretty enamored by just the first one I tried!) – but they have a ton of options + shapes available which I am definitely going to have to make a video on eventually because most of them can be used in several ways!
The thing I really like about these dies is that they are the PERFECT size for cutting up those Value-Pack junk mail mailers we get in the mail every so often.
Again, really need to make a video of these things!
Not Really Recommended: Silhouette or Cricut
If you are a wizard with these cutting machines, you honestly deserve an award. I can’t do it after trying unsuccessfully after multiple attempts, so while I can’t recommend it, I’m sure there are people who have done it successfully.
I suspect in my case the magazine paper seems to be a little too thin for the various paper bead shapes + so it’s really, really hard to weed off your mat. Maybe my mat is too sticky?
I don’t know, but I don’t recommend it for cutting out paper beads unless you are really good at using your machine on all kinds of materials or you have the patience of a saint.
How to Roll The Beads
After you have the tools + the strips are all cut up, rolling the beads is actually pretty self-explanatory. You wrap your paper around your roller (can also use toothpick or skewer), roll it up, put a dab of glue on the edge + it’s made!
I don’t usually varnish my beads, because I never make anything with them that needs to be able to stand up to getting a lot of wear or tear.
There are lots of people who DO varnish beads though, and I’ve watched several videos on this on YouTube. It seems the best way to go about it is to dunk it into some kind of varnish + then drape them in a cardboard box to dry.
I would give you more advice here, but I haven’t done it + so don’t want to recommend anything I haven’t personally tested out – if you do have a method you use or type of varnish recommend (or even some failure experiences we can use to learn from) – please DO tell us in the comments section below so we can learn from you!
Paper beads are awesome, I love making them, and they are a great way to quickly use up old magazines or junk mail – not to mention there are endless ways to actually use them + different things you can make with them!
I keep mine in a plastic container that used to house the cat’s treats. 🙂