How to: Make Paper Beads out of Junk Mail

junk mail paper beads

So, the kidlets are home from school today, bugging you for something to do, and you are hiding on the computer, catching up on blogs? Why not turn the computer off (after reading this, of course) and work on a junk mail craft together?

Paper bead making is a great craft for your little fashionista and is pretty simple to do. Using only junk mail, a toothpick and glue, this project is an easy way to get in a casual lesson on green living.

First, scour your junk mail pile and old magazines for colorful shiny paper to create your beads. The shiny varnished paper is pretty strong, brightly colored, and somewhat water proof. It is also more expensive to recycle, making it perfect for a project like this. Once your paper is selected, simply follow the following easy steps from HGTV:

1. Along the top edge of the paper, and starting 1-inch from the left side, place dots 1-inch apart.

2. Do the same on the bottom edge of the paper, but this time, draw the first dot 1/2-inch in from the left side.

3. Draw vertical lines between these dots to create long triangular strips, and cut them out.

4. Starting with the wide end of a strip, roll it tightly around a toothpick. Dab glue on the last 1/2-inch of the paper (the pointed end) to hold the coil in place.

5. Remove the toothpick.

6. Apply glaze over the bead (optional).

Junk Mail Paper Bead Tips:

  • To make beads with a larger circumference, use longer strips of paper.
  • Change the width of the strips to make wider or narrower beads.
  • You can also use magazine covers and other slick papers to make beads. Even materials with some printing will do, since only the last inch or so of the bead is visible.

Don’t fret if your fingers grow tired of making junk mail beads, there are pre-made beads available at Junk Mail Gems, along with assembled necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Etsy seller Redbecca has a fun supply of handmade junk mail beads available too!

Happy beading!

[Images credit: Creative Commons photo by Bernie Jersey]

Written by Juliet Ames

Juliet Ames breaks plates for a living. A metals and craft major at Towson University, Ames went on to work for the Howard County Arts Council organizing gallery exhibits. Meanwhile, she kept up her own craftwork. The plate-breaking started with a mosaic mailbox. “There were leftover pieces, so I soldered them and wrapped them around my neck and got a lot of compliments,” says Ames, 28, who just had her first child, a boy.


Leave a Reply
  1. Great article. It’s wonderful to get kids started crafting early. Also, another tip: Sometimes toothpicks get glued to the beads, so if that’s an issue, you can try using high gage (skinny) knitting needles to wrap your beads. Also, you can use larger gage needles for a bigger hole if you want to use your beads for hemp or cord projects. Happy green crafting!

  2. I love this idea. I saw it a few months ago, however they used fused plastic bags. I tried it but I couldn’t get the glue to hold so I guess I should try a stronger glue! The paper should be easier to do than the fused plastic bags so I am going to have to try that this summer.

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