What you need
- Some junk mail (there’s no shortage of it!). Junk mail with colourful photos works best
- Scissors or Paper Cutter
- Glue? I use watered down PVA or Modge Podge
- Thin Metal or a straw for rolling and drying the Beads? Long needle, straightened out, clothes hanger, knitting needle, etc. (don’t use a wooded needle, the glue will stick to it)
- Varnish (Optional for a shiny finish) Mod Dodge, Spray Acrylic, Clear Nail Polish
- String for Stringing the Beads ? You can also use thin plastic covered electrical cabling for a different look
How to recycle junk mail into beautiful beads (this is so easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making paper beads for ever)
- Cut your paper into long triangles (wide at one end, narrow at the other). The longer the triangle, the thicker the bead will be when rolled up. You can also layer several different coloured triangles before rolling for added design. Make these thinner and shorter, since the extra paper triangle will add bulk.Different shaped triangles will make different beads. If you make the base of the triangle wider, the bead will be rounder. For long, thin beads, make a wider base, and a shorter triangle.
- Pick up your paper and roll it tightly around your straw, starting at the wide end. You can make different shaped beads based on how your roll the paper on the straw.You can roll the paper more to one side for a tear drop shape. Try to roll the paper directly in the middle for a symmetrical shape.An interesting twist is to make a cut a long, thin rectangle out of the paper. Then, cut a triangle from one end of the rectangle, so that your paper shape resembles a pair of pants. The bead will be thicker on each end and thinner in the middle (for a thinner middle, cut the triangle higher into the rectangle).
- As you roll, paint some glue onto the bead to help it to stick and harden.Apply a tiny dot of glue at the end of triangle to secure the roll.With your fingers, gently move the bead to the end of your straw and begin rolling another bead on the same straw. I get about five beads to a straw.
- At this point, you can varnish the beads to make them hard and shiny (I paint it with a mix of half PVA, half water…or coat it with the excess squeezed out when I roll the beads). The bead will last longer if coated. Apply the clear nail polish, glue mix, varnish or spray acrylic and let dry.For a painting and drying rack, I use my kitchen forks and dish drainer. My husband loves it…NOT!You can also stick the needles or straws into a piece of Styrofoam….but leave enough free straw space to do that…maybe you’ll only get four beads to a straw doing it that way.The beads dry quickly and you can store them until ready to thread.
- Now string the beads for necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and earrings.You can use thin wire, copper wire, elastic string (great for kids), or even dental floss to string the beads.I used nylon cord off a fancy plastic shopping bag (yes, I recycled the plastic bag into plarn).