How To Make Colorful Paper Beads With Junk Mail

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If you’re looking for an easy craft to keep the whole family occupied at home, I recommend you make paper beads with junk mail.

Why?

It’s an activity that helps with all the family “togetherness” that is a direct result of the additional time everyone must spend inside the house.

After all, just when it looked like things were starting to open up again many places are enforcing additional restrictions again due to the rise in hospitalizations. 

Some of these policies include a requirement for wearing a mask in public. In many cities, businesses that were allowed to open at reduced capacity are now closed completely, again.

When it appeared there may to be little bit of relief from the stress of the pandemic, we are all being thrown back into the great unknown.

So, what’s a parent to do when there are limited ways to get the kids outside and expend the extra energy?

Add to that, many parents are already exhausted from a day of multi-tasking. The last thing they need is children (of any age) bouncing off the walls (sometimes literally).

So today I’m going to share an activity that not only will keep hands of all ages busy, but also help you put some of the never ending junk mail you receive to good use.

It is also a great stress reducer because you must focus on the task at hand instead of letting your mind wander.

Paper beads air dry on toothpicks stunk in green oasis

Junk Mail Is Perfect For Paper Beads

You may have already seen tutorials on how to make paper beads by upcycling old magazines.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get a lot of magazines anymore so they’re not always lying around the house ready to be shredded into pieces when you need them most.

Junk mail and unwanted catalogs, however, are still in never ending supply. 

These same paper bead tutorials provide exact dimensions or templates to cut the strips into the ideal sizes. For the purpose of this project, however, “winging it” is just fine.

Since it’s not likely that you intend to start a jewelry business based on the beads you make from this tutorial, exact measurements aren’t necessary.

Make paper beads junk mail Create To Donate

To make it even easier this paper bead tutorial’s supplies are also everyday items you probably have around the house.

So, no need for a massive search through the nooks and crannies of the house to find the perfect tools.

Supplies You Need To Make Paper Beads

Paper Bead Supplies

Making paper beads from junk mail doesn’t required a lot of supplies. Many of these, in fact, are even available at the Dollar Store. This is what you need:

Junk mail – You want to use the glossy ads from local businesses or catalogs with thinner pages. You don’t want the newspaper print flyers. They will just make a big ol’ mess. If you want really colorful beads, you want to look for the most vibrant and colorful ads.

Chopsticks and toothpicks – Yes, you’ll want both because each serves a purpose. So, those extra chopsticks you’ve gotten from takeout over the past couple of months will come in handy. And if you don’t have toothpicks on-hand you could substitute a plastic fork and use the tines.

All-purpose glue – Any brand will do. Well, not super glue, of course. Stick with white glue because you will be using your hands and want to be able to wash it off easily.

Scissors or a rotary cutter – The rotary cutter will allow you to cut a lot of pieces at once. Stack several sheets on top of each other and then start cuting!

Styrofoam cup or bowl, floral foam block, or wax paper. You can buy floral foam block at the Dollar Store wherever they have their fabric flowers.

Clear nail polish (optional). This gives it a nice clear coat finish and adds another layer of sealant to the paper.

Things To Buy At The Dollar Store or Dollar Tree

If you don’t have some of these things on hand then here is your Dollar Store shopping list:

– Floral arrangement block (green foam thing). You could also use one of the white styrofoam balls the Dollar Store typically carries.

– Toothpicks

– Clear nail polish

– All-purpose glue

So, all told, this project would cost under $5 if you don’t already have the items in your stash.

Use These Four Simple Steps To Make Paper Beads

Paper bead triangle slips

Step 1: Cut paper strips.

Cut long, triangular strips from the glossy ads or catalog pages you’ve ripped out of the catalog.

At their widest, they should be between 1 – 1.5 inches.

When you’re cutting the strips, the lines don’t have to be perfectly straight, but you do want to have enough of an angle so when you start rolling the bead, it will include a variety of colors.

Steps 2 – 4: Form the paper bead from the junk mail strip.

Steps to rolling a paper bead

Use a chopstick or a toothpick to help you form your bead.

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PRO TIP

The chopstick will be easier for smaller hands to manage turning.

The toothpick is good for hands that are more accustomed to holding something tight while rolling.

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Now, take one of the strips and fold it over the chopstick.

Then, using both thumbs, start rolling the chopstick away from you to build up the bead.

You want to keep the paper fairly tight so that the bead is strong enough to use once you’re done.

Just before the paper is all rolled up, put a dab of glue. (And yes, in my picture it’s more like a blob.)

Then, take one of your fingers and use it to press down the last bit of paper so that it’s glued down.

You don’t have to use your fingers and could use wax paper instead.

Since the glue is easily washed off with water, however, I find it easiest just to get my hands dirty.

Once the edge of the paper bead is clearly glued down, gently take it off the chopstick.

Put the bead on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil (anything to which the glue won’t stick) for it to dry.

The beads should look like this when you’re done.

Different sized paper beads

Ways To Use The Junk Mail Paper Beads

After you and your children get the hang of making paper beads with junk mail, you may find that you will all want to keep doing it.

It’s always fun to see how the paper bead looks depending on the colors in the strip of paper you’re using and paper beads can be used for a variety of things.

To get your creative juices flowing, try one of these suggestions:.

– Use the beads as petals of a flower for an inspirational card you make to donate to Cardz For Kidz.

– Make a bracelet using some twine or thin string.

– Create a pencil holder by gluing the paper beads to a recycled soup can.

I have been using the beads to make paper bead earrings.

What will you use them for?

Paper bead earrings made with junk mail.

This post originally appeared on Goods Giving Back in 2016 and has been updated to add additional details and reflect current-day situations.

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