Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Making Paper Beads - resource list

Many of you have asked me for a list of resources for getting started with making your own paper beads, so I've compiled my favorites here. I also have several brand new cutting templates and files in my Etsy store, and will continue to add more as I design them!

This has been a really fun hobby for me, from start to finish... from designing and tweaking templates to creating finished jewelry to wear! Bead rolling is very relaxing and inexpensive, and it's very portable as well. I hope this post will be a helpful resource for you!


Use it all! In the photo above, there are beads made from a college brochure, colored cardstock, printed cardstock, cheap white cardstock, acrylic painted papers and more. I've used magazine and book pages, scanned keepsakes, watercolor paintings... there are so many possibilities.

Different weights of paper will yield different results. Some of the beads above are made with more than one cut piece rolled together (either at once or end to end). Part of the fun will be experimenting to find out what works best for you.

Most of the cardstock I use is 65# - 80# cover (176 - 215 gsm). I bought this pack of 72 sheets (12"x12") and I've been really pleased with the quality and results - great price too. If you use cardstock, you'll get best results if it has a solid core (same color all the way through - like the red and yellow beads above).

Printed cardstock with a white core will show a little white at the cut edge. It's not a bad look and some of the white will fade when the beads are sealed, but you may prefer not to have it showing. You can use an alcohol or acrylic marker to color the cut edges, if you want to take the time. I bought some Posca acrylic markers (I like the 8mm broad chisel tip) that make a nice edge. (Some sealants may cause solvent markers to bleed, so if you use them make sure your color matches the paper well.)

Patterned papers may not give you the results you expect! Check out Kelly's video here for a sampling of what patterned papers look like when they're rolled up. Also, sometimes ugly papers make pretty beads!

Junk mail and catalogs can make great bead papers! Look for pages that have a top-to-bottom print, a gradient, or a wide border at the top and/or bottom. These were made from a college brochure.

For the gel printed beads, I use a clay coated cardstock. It is 210gsm, so a little less than 80# cover weight. These ones are generally my favorite, just because of the handpainted look and custom colors.

If you're going to paint your beads with craft paint, you can use cheap white cardstock. These ornament beads are done with the 110# index weight (199gsm) cardstock from Walmart and painted with 2-3 coats of craft acrylic paint. You can also use alcohol inks or acrylic inks or watercolors to color them - lots of options! Just be sure to use a medium that won't bleed when you glaze the beads.

I started off using an 1/8" dowel rod as a roller - you can really use anything cylindrical. I chose 1/8" because I have a large number of eyelets in that size which make perfect cores! If you want to use something you already have as a roller, you can try toothpicks, knitting needles, bamboo or metal skewers, coffee straws, etc. I did have trouble with the dowel pieces snapping after a while, but they're not expensive to replace.

Google research led me to, and I will recommend that site as a wonderful resource for all things paper beading, from tools to templates and tutorials! The bead rollers Kelly sells (above) are handmade and very sturdy. They have a wooden handle and a pin for rolling - the pin has an narrow slit where you insert the end of your paper strip to hold it in place while you roll. There are a variety of sizes and sets to choose from.

I've also got this set of rollers and tools made in Germany by PaperBeadPatty - these are also handmade, and come in a variety of sizes and sets! I highly recommend both of these companies!

From both sets, I used that smallest 5/64" or 2mm roller the most, followed by the 1/8" or 3mm.

There are other rollers on the market which I have not tried - a machine style with a ball handle for easy gripping and turning, one with a shaft that easily pushes a finished bead off the pin... and variety of others that have smaller barrels. If you have issues with your hands or wrists, I'd stick with the ones pictured above, which have larger, shaped handles.

Eyelets or grommets can be pushed in to the bead holes before or after sealing for a finished or more decorative look. I've purchased the 1/8" size at Eyelet Outlet and they have excellent prices there.

They carry other sizes as well - the only guideline for these is matching the core size to the size of your bead roller. Note: Pandora style beads have a 5mm core.

The tool set from PaperBeadPatty I showed above has a pair of tools (the 2nd two from the left) that are used to help press an eyelet into a tight hole.

My go-to adhesive for beads has been Elmer's Glue-All (I have this extra strength one). I keep the Elmer's in a needle tip bottle and add a little water for better flow. It dries matte and pretty quickly, and doesn't make your fingers sticky.

Glue sticks are another great option, whichever brand you have on hand. I just grabbed one of the kids' school glue sticks (the purple washable from Elmers) and it worked nicely.  I just have a tendency to leave the cap off a glue stick and ruin it completely, so that's why I don't use it all the time!

Many bead makers use PC-Petrifier to harden and seal their beads. This product is actually a wood hardener, and it can either be brushed on the beads or you can dip the beads into it directly.

I buy the gallon size and keep a smaller amount in a pint jar. I dip strands of beads directly into it, then hang them to dry. The manufacturer recommends letting the product cure overnight.  For me, five coats of the PC-Petrifier is perfect. I dip my strands quickly the first time to coat and lock in any loose dye in the paper, and let them dry overnight. I wait 3-4 hours between the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th dips, and then let them dry overnight again after the 5th dip.  After several dips it builds up a nice gloss.

I do not use any other products to finish my beads. Others prefer a couple of coats of Minwax Polycrylic or another brand of polyurethane gloss (either alone or over the hardener). You can brush on the finish, or dip the beads into it and allow them to drip dry. If you use both the hardener and the gloss finish, 2 dips in each one produces a nice finish.

Another product that is highly recommended is called Vibrance Glaze, and it's sold by Janice Mae - her site is another good one for supplies and inspiration. You can follow her on Facebook here.

Another option for sealing is a heavy embossing enamel - like a chunky embossing powder. I tried the Ranger brand (UTEE) - I liked the smoothness of the coating, but found it a little hard to get an even coverage. It also seemed to dull when handled.



The shape of the finished bead will vary based on the shape of the strip, the thickness of the paper, the diameter of the roller, the length and width of the strip, and the number of layers rolled at once.

A long triangular strip is the most common shape for beading, as it's very easy to cut by hand or with a trimmer. When rolled, the tip can be centered for a "bicone" shape, aligned to one side for a cone, or offset to one side for a teardrop. The beads above were made with identical triangular strips. Here's a video showing how you can get several different finished bead shapes using the same strip. The strips I used in the video are 1" wide by about 12" long, cut from 65# printed cardstock.

I hope that is helpful!

Here's a graphic I found online showing how different bead shapes can be achieved using different shaped strips. Once you master the triangles, it's fun to branch out and try other styles!

Even the non-triangle shapes can be varied... one of the cutting templates I designed includes a corset shaped bead - here are several different results using the same shape!


Triangles are very easy to cut by hand or with a guillotine cutter. Determine the width you want to cut, and mark that increment down one side of the paper (for example, if you want your beads 1" wide, measure in 1" increments all the way across). On the opposite side, measure in at half your increment, then proceed as before (so measure in and mark at 1/2", then mark at 1-1/2", 2-1/2", etc).

Other shapes may be more difficult to cut. Check Etsy or do a Google search for printed or downloadable bead templates for sale. These can be traced, printed or photocopied right onto your bead paper and cut out by hand. Stencils are also available.

If you have an electronic cutter, you can purchase cutting files for your bead strips! 

I have a brand new collection of my own unique templates - you can find them in my Etsy store here! Each of my designs comes in 3 formats, so you can use them on any electronic cutting machine or print a pdf as a manual cutting guide. Instructions are included as well. I hope you like them! The Corset Combo set is a favorite, since it cuts 3 different shapes on one sheet of paper.

I ran across a set of cutting dies from The Stamp Doctor that are designed specifically for paper beads - they're a great option for scraps or printed papers, since the outline style die allows you to perfectly center a design element or pattern for your bead before cutting. I've varied these slightly by adding a straight rectangular core to the center. I'll share more about these dies another day! Most of them are 1" wide and 6" long.

On that same page you'll find other dies that can be used for flat style paper beads or pendants (tutorial here). The prices are great, and bundle pricing can be requested!

You can also purchase paper strips for rolling into beads - check out my friend Gina's store Bellie Beads for lots of shape options!

If you choose to brush glaze onto your beads directly, you'll probably use toothpicks or skewers to prop them up to dry in a foam block. Since I dip my beads to glaze them, they need a place to drip dry.

My dipping station is a little rustic, since it was made from scraps we had around the garage. Many of the designs you'll find online are similar in structure - they have a bar at the top with several dowels or hooks to hang strands. There is a drip tray at the bottom.

My station is tall enough to accommodate up to 14" of beads on each strand. Each of my fishing line hangers is about 18" long, and has a fishing weight on one end. I fill the strand, and then put a binder clip at the top to hold the beads on - the clip also acts as a hanger while the beads are drying. The finished beads shown here are below

Dipping stations can be made from something as simple as a cardboard box, or out of PVC pipe. There are lots of ideas and instructions on Youtube.

For now I'm storing my beads in these containers by Darice. The sections have a rounded front, so the beads are easy to remove and you're not chasing them into corners. Others store their beads in strands on fishing line, or in small baggies.

I have really enjoyed working paper beads into my jewelry designs. Memory wire wrap bracelets are fun to make... well as earrings...

For inspiration, search Pinterest for paper bead jewelry, or follow #paperbeadjewelry on Instagram!


Believe it or not, there is a really amazing community of paper bead rollers online! Here are some groups I've joined on Facebook.

Paper Beads Born Pretty

The membership spans the globe, which I love. Lots of questions and answers and photos and compliments are exchanged - such a kind group of crafters!

There are lots of beading tutorials on Youtube! Here are a few of my favorite dedicated channels:

I hope this collection of information has been helpful! If you have more questions or if additional videos from me would be helpful, please let me know in the comments and I'll do what I can! Happy rolling!

Thanks for stopping by!

Ideas, Supplies, Machines, Paper & More


  1. Very informational, Easy to read and follow. I love your blog it is straight to the point and you can find what you are really looking for.

  2. This is just what I was looking for. All the info in one place. Thank you

  3. Really good information. I’m having trouble with the glue always sticking to my fingers and ruining the look of my paper beads. I’ll try your suggestions. Thank you.