Paper Bead Bangle
Roll your own beads to make an awesome safety pin bracelet.
By Stephanie Scheetz
I’m a self-proclaimed paper pack rat. Big pieces, little pieces, nothing gets thrown away. One day I sat staring at a huge stack of paper strips, all the same size. They were leftover remnants from a workshop I had prepped months earlier. “What the heck am I going to do with these?” I thought. And the challenge was made, albeit to myself. I needed to design a project that used up these last bits of paper, which others might have thrown away. What resulted was a fresh spin on a craft project familiar to many, but never seen like this.
Old magazines or other lightweight scrap paper such as newspapers, gift wrap, or scrapbook paper
Safety pins (30-40) all the same size
Elastic jewelry cord
Small plastic or glass beads (optional) as garnish
Clear nail polish (optional)
Step 1: Cut paper into strips.
Cut the paper into 5″-long strips that are the same width as the width of the bar on the closed safety pin you’re using for the project. (If you decide to add extra glass or plastic beads to the pins, take their width into consideration and adjust the width of your paper strips accordingly.) The number of strips depends on how many finished beads you’ll need for your wrist size, so I recommend taking a quick measurement before you begin the project. I find it’s good to start with approximately 30 to 40 strips; you can always create more if you need them.
After you cut your strips, you will need to divide them in half diagonally, from corner to corner. What you’ll get are 2 elongated triangles.
Step 2: Roll triangular strips around skewer.
Starting at the widest end of the triangle, roll the paper around the skewer at least once before applying glue to the remainder of the strip. This keeps the bead from sticking to the skewer. Continue rolling the paper around the skewer, keeping the point of the triangle in the middle.
Step 3: Secure paper beads on safety pins.
After the bead is completed, slide it off the skewer. Place your bead on a safety pin — along with other decorative beads if desired — and close the pin to keep the bead secure. Repeat this step with the remaining rolled beads. It’s helpful to lay them side by side so you know approximately how long your bracelet is getting.
Step 4: Thread safety pins onto cord.
Cut a couple pieces of elastic jewelry cord into 10″ lengths. Thread one cord through the heads of the safety pins and the other cord through the bottoms of the pins. Continue adding prepared beads until you get your desired length. Unless you want a snug fit on your wrist, I like to add 2 to 3 extra beads to make it a little looser.
After you’ve completed threading both cords through the safety pins, tie the ends together. Make sure the knots are secure so the ends won’t pull apart. When everything looks good, you can trim the excess cord from the ends and put the bracelet on your wrist for others to admire and covet!
Alternative Materials and Optional Finishing
If you don’t have old magazines laying around the house, you can easily
substitute some other paper to make the beads. Some wonderful alternative materials might be newspapers, gift wrap, gift bags, or scrapbook paper. The key is to have the paper be lightweight and not thick like cardstock.
Personally, I like the natural finish of paper, but if you prefer having your beads look more polished, you can always apply a protective coat to the surface. This will also help prevent your beads from unraveling. You can purchase a spray or brush-on sealant for the finish, but the most frugal option is good ol’ clear nail polish. Apply an even coat to the surface and allow the bead to dry on some wax paper before handling.
Come play with us at our Maker Faire, the world’s biggest DIY festival, on May 30th and 31st in San Mateo, Calif. Natalie Zee Drieu will be hosting a kids’ workshop, making Paper Bead Bangles, on Sunday morning (the 31st) from 10:30-11:30 in the CRAFT area!
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheetz has been a designer and instructor in the craft industry for nearly 15 years. Some of her hobbies include thrift store shopping, eBaying, and collecting mail art, prison art, and bad art. Check her out at coolcrafting.com.