Making rolled paper beads is so easy, and they turn out so beautiful, that you will find that you can easily get addicted to this nifty past time. What do you do with the beads when you are done? Anything you would do with any other beads. The durability of the bead really depends on how the beads are finished. So, let's just jump in and get started.
Paper – I love using colorful catalogs. My favorite are Fossil Catalogs. Usually they have beautiful theme colors. You can also use used wrapping paper, newspaper, or use regular printer paper and color your own. If you do that, however, make sure to use markers that will not bleed with wet.
Pencil and ruler – optional
Glue – I like using glue sticks but any of the crafting glues are fine
Rolling bar – You will be rolling strips of paper around something. You can use skewers, round toothpicks or small sized knitting needles. (Note: the needles may be damaged by glue so only use old needles : ) Obviously, the smaller the diameter of the rolling bar, the smaller the hole in the bead. I used size 4 knitting needles. This left a bigger hole making it easier for the wee ones to thread.
Finishing/Sealer – Optional – You can use Modge Podge, clear nail polish, crafting glue watered down about half and half, polyurethane or leave unfinished.
Begin by cutting the paper into long triangular strips. I simply eyeballed the process. I'd take a piece of paper, say an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper or magazine page, and starting at one side, cut across to the other side. Then I'd make another cut, about 1" to 1 1/2" from my last cut, but angling my cut so I'd be down to a point on the other end. I'd flip the paper over and go back the other way. My triangles were about 8 1/2" long. The triangles weren't perfect, but when you rolled them, it really didn't matter. If you prefer, you can actually use a ruler and pencil and mark the paper giving yourself cutting lines. I tried that once, but it dramatically slowed me down so I just cut willy nilly : ) The paper can be cut wider and narrower and longer and shorter to change the size of the bead.
When you have your strips, begin rolling one at a time on your rolling bar. Start at the wide side. You want to roll them tight so the beads are solid, but not so tight you can't get them off the bar. TIP: If you are having trouble getting the end to stay in place as you begin to roll, you can moisten the very end SLIGHTLY. (Barely moistened.) Uh, would I totally gross you guys out if I told you I just stick the end between my lips for a second? If I did gross you out, umm… I was just kidding 🙂
When you get down to the last couple inches, put glue on the end. This is really easy to do with a glue stick.
Let the glue dry. (With the glue stick, I was able to take the beads off almost immediately.) You can now remove the bead. Try twisting the bead as you remove it from the rolling bar. If you pull it straight off, sometimes the bead will unravel.
Finishing the beads: If you decide to finish the beads, which I do recommend, simply coat the bead with your sealer of choice and allow to dry completely. If you are using a hard finish like polyurethane or clear nail polish, it works well to use toothpicks. Instead of removing your bead, leave it on, and put on the finish. You can push the toothpicks into Styrofoam so the beads do not touch one another. When dry, remove. This will give the hardest finish that should not stick together if moist. (Humidity or skin moisture.)
Using glue or Modge Podge is faster and children can help, but it won't give you as tough a finish. I found I could string the beads side by side on a knitting needle and coat several at a time with Modge Podge. When they dried, I slipped them off the knitting needle and they easily popped apart.
Now, simply decide what you want to do with your beads and string them together 🙂
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