One of the best things about making jewelry with rolled paper beads is the huge number of sources to get your paper. Almost any type of paper that is flexible enough to roll into a cylinder is can be used for making paper beads. Once you start looking around, you’ll notice sources for paper beads everywhere!
Experimenting with different types, weights, colors, and thicknesses of paper is a great way to expand your creativity.
Types of Paper for Making Beads
- Magazines – Magazine paper usually has shiny colors from all the photos. It usually has a glossy coating on it that is a little bit more water resistant than regular copier paper. Because the paper is usually very thin and lightweight, it requires longer strips to get a thicker diameter bead.
- Newspapers – Newspapers often have a lot of text and be fun for getting beads that have words on them.
- Notebooks – Blank or used. This can be interesting for getting beads with handwritten text on them.
- Wrapping Paper – When the birthday party is done or the holidays or over, this is a great way to get brightly colored beads. I find it a little harder to use because some inexpensive wrapping paper is so thin and sometimes the colors crack or come off if it gets too wet when you are making the bead. You’ll want to seal these to protect them.
- Printer/Copier Paper – I like using this type of paper because it is pretty sturdy. However, because it’s not shiny, if you want glossy beads, you’ll need to varnish it or coat is with something that will add gloss after you make your beads.
- Scrapbooking paper – Scrapbooking paper comes in lots of different patterns and colors and can make really interesting beads. There is even glitter scrapbook paper that can make really exciting looking beads for jewelry. Make sure you are using the thin paper and not cardstock. Cardstock scrapbooking paper is too thick and won’t roll well.
- Tissue Paper – Tissue paper is too thin to use on its own to make paper beads. However, if you combine it with a sturdier paper or make layered tissue paper before you use it for beads, it can make gorgeous paper. See my tutorial on using tissue paper to make beads.
- Paper Grocery Bags – Bags that you bring home from the grocery store can make great sturdy beads that have a very natural look to them.
- Old books – Old books (especially kids books) are a wonderful source for beads with text or interesting colors on them.
- Origami paper – I’ve seen some absolutely gorgeous beads done with origami paper. Rather than making an oval bead, you may want to consider making a cylinder bead with origami paper so that you can see more of the design.
- Junk Mail – One of my favorite sources for paper beads. It is a free and never-ending source of paper.
- Tracing paper – If thin and flexible enough, this can make an interesting translucent bead.
- Catalogs – Catalogs get out of date quickly, but can make wonderful beads. The paper is often shiny and coated like the magazines.
- Old Schoolwork - Rather than throwing last year’s schoolwork papers away, roll some of them into beads.
- Flyers – Flyers for old events are not needed anymore. Turn them into jewelry by making them into beads.
- Posters – Old unwanted posters can make great beads. They are usually heavyweight paper and have lots of colors.
- Wallpaper – I’ve never tried wallpaper, but I have heard of it being used. The patterns would be great for making pretty beads. Supposedly Victorian women used wallpaper to make beads.
- Handmade Paper – Handmade paper has an interesting rough texture and can make beautiful beads. (Make sure that it is flexible enough to roll.)
- Dust Jackets – These usually fall off of books, and if you’re the type of get rid of them, consider using them for paper beads. They are very study and often shiny and colorful and make great beads.
- Used Coloring Books - If your child has gotten tired of the book, this would be a great way to recycle it.
- Phonebooks – Lots and lots of paper these!
- Brown Paper Lunch Bags – If the paper is still clean, recycle them into beads.
- Paper Towels – I’m planning on trying this, but I bet this makes a really interesting textured bead. However, since it is so absorbent, I would guess you would have to seal it pretty well if you want to use it in jewelry.
- Ultrafine Grit Sandpaper – Again, never tried this, but this could be an interesting experiment!
- Movie Tickets – These might be a little thick, but they would make an interesting commemorative bead.
- Maps – Lots of cool text for the beads.
- Napkins – Probably would have the same issue as the paper towels, but might be worth trying.
- Old Calendars – Colorful photos. Flexible, sturdy, coated pages. These would be great for beads.
- Paper Placemats – Children’s menus from restaurants.
I’m sure I haven’t covered all the sources, but that’s all I can think for now. I’d love to hear about other sources for paper!