Making paper beads is a craft that dates back to Victorian England and is enjoying a recent resurgence of popularity. The traditional shape for paper beads is a tapered tube in various lengths. These are made by rolling up a long, skinny triangle of paper, gluing it tight, then coating it with a protective finish. You can make a fatter or almost round bead by decreasing the width and increasing the length of your paper triangle.
If you’ve been making paper beads for some time, though, you may be interested in ways to make more unique shapes with your beads. These three paper bead shapes are more challenging to create, but they yield beautiful results.
Hourglass Paper Beads
To make an hourglass-shaped paper bead, you’ll need three paper strips. For our example, we’ll make a one inch long hourglass bead. Cut two tapered triangle paper strips, each 1/2 inch wide. The length depends on how fat you want your bead to be. The third strip should be one inch wide and two inches long. If you’re making a set of beads from a 12-inch square of paper, such as scrapbook paper, you can cut a two-inch strip from one side and divide that into 12 one-inch pieces. Then cut the remainder of the paper into strips 1/2 inch wide and 10 inches long.
For each bead, begin by rolling the two-inch strip into a tight tube. Glue down the end. Glue the edge of one of the 1/2 inch triangle strips against the glued down edge on the left side of the bead, so that it covers the left half of the bead. Roll that strip to the end and secure it. Do the same thing with the other triangle strip on the right side of the bead. Coat the bead in protective finish and let it dry.
Bow Tie Paper Beads
These unusual little paper beads look like bow ties or hair bows. You’ll need two paper strips for each bead. To make a one-inch bead, use one wide strip that tapers from one inch at one end to 3/4 inch at the other end. Your second strip is a traditional 1/2-inch tapered triangle.
For each bead, start with the wide strip, roll it up and glue down the end. Center the narrower strip on the tube bead you’ve made, butting the edge against the end of the first strip. Glue the end of the strip to secure it, roll it to the end and glue the point. Coat the bead in protective finish and let it dry.
Horn Paper Beads
Horn-shaped paper beads make great dangles for earrings. You can also nest them, form them into a circle and shellac it to make an unusual pendant. Each bead is made from a single paper triangle, 1/4 inch wide by 12 inches long.
Roll the strip from the wide end as usual, but after three or four turns around your roller, begin pulling the strip slightly off center so that it makes an elongated shape. By the time you get to the end of your paper strip, the end of your bead will no longer be touching your roller, because the thickness of the bead pushes it out. Wrap the last several turns of the strip directly on top of each other to make a slightly thickened lip at the end of your bead, and carefully glue the end down.
Carefully pull your bead off the roller. Make sure to push it from the narrow end rather than just pulling the fatter end so the bead doesn’t unravel. You can leave it like this for a cone shape, or curve it slightly to make a horn shape. Slip just the tip of the narrow end back onto your roller to hold the bead while you coat it inside and out with protective finish and let it dry.