Mad Mim's blog by Miriam Tribe has a great tutorial on how to make homemade paper beads using recycled / upcycled magazine paper. Magazine paper really is one of our favorite materials. There really are so many things you can do with it once you've finished reading it.
What you’ll need:
-magazines, colored paper, tissue paper, toilet paper (ok, maybe not) but really. Just get yourself some paper.
-Elmer’s glue, Modge podge, and some kind of varnish. I used spray polyurethane. One lady said she used Future Floor Finish, and another said she used nail polish.
-scissors, or a rotary blade, quilting ruler and cutting mat (way faster)
-something to stick your toothpicks in like a styrofoam tray or packing materials, or cardboard box.
Before you start cutting, I’ll say a word about paper choice. For beads that are mostly one color, choose an image that is mostly one color. Ok, so that’s logical, but just play around with different kinds of images i.e. colorful, more solid, mostly solid, monochromatic etc), and you’ll quickly get an idea for what kind of image creates what kind of bead.
Cut your strips: Measure 3/8″ from the bottom edge and mark.
Measure 3/4″ away from top edge and mark.
Now cut from the very top corner to your bottom mark. This prepares your next cut to be centered and the right size.
Cut from your top 3/4″ mark to the bottom corner.
Repeat until you have what you need. At first I just was going for an assortment of colors, but then for a subsequent project I was looking for very specific colors, and only cut out as many strips as I needed to complete that certain project. You don’t have to use the full-length of the page either, and you can measure or longer than I have to make shorter or longer beads. Not a science here. You can also make rectangle strips to create tube beads, which I am using for another project.
Start rolling a strip at the wide around a ROUND toothpick. You can use anything here, just as long as it’s pretty slender. Tooth picks are nice though because they’re reusable, yet disposable. Some people have special paper bead rolling machines.
Keep rolling until you reach the very tip,
and then add a dab of glue (anything type of glue will work here, I just liked elmer’s because it was easy to squeeze right onto the tip),
and then wind the last bit of paper around the bead and hold until it stays. I usually rolled two beads per toothpick, and rolled all my beads to this point before I started mod-podging/varnishing.
Coat the beads in Mod Podge,
and then stick into your styrafoam tray or box or whatever. Recoat after a good 4-8 hours. Or don’t wait that long, I won’t judge you.
Now varnish. I just took my tray loaded with toothpicks outside and sprayed (two coats) of my polyurethane. I had semi-gloss, and wished I had high gloss. The more shine the better I say. If you use nail polish, you’d just paint again. If you use that floor finish or something that came in a tub or can you could just dip those suckers in. Just allow lots of drying time in between coats, and let them thoroughly dry before you use them (only judging you a little bit if you can’t wait).
Remove from the toothpicks