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Paper Beads
Ages 5 to 9
Make unique jewelry for your family to enjoy and share.

What You Need
Paper Beads

  • Scissors
  • Different types of paper such as plain white paper; used greeting cards; wallpaper; paper colored with crayons, markers, or colored pencils; or pages from comic books, magazines, or store catalogues
  • Craft glue
  • Toothpicks or knitting needles
  • String or wire

What to Do

  1. Among the oldest beads discovered in Africa, India, and China were those made from ostrich eggshells. Those found in Africa date back 37,000 to 39,900 years ago and were located in Kenya's Rift Valley. Beads can be made from just about anything, including seashells, clay, wood, glass, and precious stones. Even common, household items such as paper can be used to make beads.
  2. From your paper collection, select one piece that is about the size of a greeting card or larger.
  3. Now cut long, slender triangles from the paper. The longer the strip, the thicker the bead. The base, or large end of the triangle, can range in size from 1/2 to 1 inch. The entire strip should be no longer than 8 to 10 inches.
  4. Spread a thin coat of glue over the plain or undecorated side of the triangle. Be sure to leave a small area (at the tip of the triangle) without glue.
  5. Place a toothpick on the base of the triangle with the decorated side facing down.
  6. Carefully roll the paper around the toothpick. Keep the paper tight and the edges even.
  7. Just before you finish rolling the paper, place a dab of glue on the triangle's tip and seal the end in place.
  8. When the glue has dried, remove the toothpick from the tightly rolled paper. You have now made your first bead. You can decorate it with paint or apply clear fingernail polish to give it a shiny finish.

What Else You Can Do

  • Make beads of different shapes. Rectangular paper makes cylindrical beads. Triangular paper makes rounded beads. If you use a rectangular strip of paper with a triangle cut out of the middle, your bead will be spool-shaped.
  • Make a bunch of beads and string them together for bracelets and necklaces. For a necklace, make at least two beads of each shape and size in order to give the necklace a balanced look. Put one large bead in the middle.
  • Try your hand at creating beads from other materials such as play dough or modeling clay.

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