What To Make With Paper Beads? (Not Just Jewelry!)


I started making paper beads because I’ve been trying out new crafts for this website. I love paper and I love making paper beads, but it does create a problem. What am I supposed to do with all of the beads that I’ve been making?

There are a lot of options for using paper beads, including the obvious things like necklaces, earrings and bracelets. In addition, paper beads can be used to make other types of accessories for personal use and home decorating. They can also be used in assemblage art and paper craft projects to embellish junk journals, collages, and other artwork.

I decided to do a roundup of ideas, because the beads that I’ve been making are starting to stack up. Here are some ideas for ways to use the paper beads that you make, and I’ll be adding to it as more ideas come up.

Ideas for things to make with paper beads

Table of Contents

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1. Make jewelry with your paper beads.

This is the obvious answer to the question of how to use your paper beads. Paper beads can be used to make necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, and can be combined with beads made from other materials to add interest to the piece.

Paper beads can be made with different types of paper, paints, glazes and metal accents, so using them as unique focus beads will give jewelry pieces a one-of-a-kind look.

I would be careful about what kind of glaze you use on paper beads that will be worn against the skin, though. I’ve been watching a lot of videos about making the beads, and some of the types of glazes that people use to waterproof them seem to be pretty toxic, or questionable at best.

I personally would stick to water-based sealers that are labeled non-toxic if you’re going to be using the paper beads for jewelry. Just my opinion!

What to do with paper beads, things to make include a wine glass marker.
Paper bead wine glass marker.

2. Make drink markers for your party guests.

If you’re going to be having a party, or even if you’ll just be having a few guests over, making decorative drink markers to wrap around the stems of wineglasses will help your guests keep track of their drinks.

I’ve seen these types of markers made from glass beads, so why not paper? And if you’re having a themed party you can create beads in the same colors to match your occasion.

If you don’t want to make the beads yourself, you can buy them on Etsy, including from Squeakerchimp. Click here to see her selection of beads and supplies.Opens in a new tab.

3. Make table decor for table settings.

You can use paper beads to make napkin rings or other decorations that you can use to match the theme of your dinner. Just string them on flexible wire that you can wrap around the napkins.

For Thanksgiving, use orange and brown beads for autumn colors, and for Valentine’s Day you can make them red and pink. The beads could be glazed or unglazed for this.

The good thing about this idea is that the paper beads can be reused later by taking them off the wire when you’re done!

4. Wrap vases and containers.

Using the same idea of stringing the beads onto flexible wire, you can also make a longer wired paper bead garland to wrap around vases or containers.

These could be a temporary decoration, or you could glue them to the container. If you’re going to glue them on permanently, I would leave them unglazed until they’re all set up in place, then apply the glaze. That way the glue will grab the paper better instead of being applied to a glazed surface.

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5. Use paper beads for other types of personal and home accessories.

I’ve seen glasses cords like the ones that Karen of KalxDesigns makes (click here to see her shop on EtOpens in a new tab.sy) that are decorated with beads. Paper beads could be used to make these yourself if you have teeny beads that you can use. (Or just go get one from Karen, sometimes it’s easier to buy them!)

You can also use the paper beads to make keychains or lanyard cords. Adding one-of-a-kind paper beads to a lanyard would really set it apart.

Spider made from paper beads
Spider made from paper beads.

And you can make home decor accessories too…This Halloween spider was made by Zoe of Squeakerchimp using paper beads that she made.

6. Use paper beads to make hair accessories.

You can hot glue paper beads to a barrette, or wrap them on wire onto a hair comb to create a unique design.

They can also be attached to a rubber band that’s used to hold a ponytail or braids to match the hairstyle to a child’s outfit.

7. Make paper bead garlands for holiday decor.

Stringing paper beads and using them for garlands on a Christmas tree or mantle is a fun way to incorporate your bead making hobby into your holiday decorating.

Mary of Lil Fox Designs on Etsy (click here to see her sOpens in a new tab.hop) said that her mother had a garland that was made from her wedding announcements that she used as a Christmas decoration, which I think is a really nice idea and keepsake!

Now that I think about this, I just discovered a use for all of those Christmas cards that pile up every year…

Bowl made from paper beads.
Bowl made from paper beads.

8. Weave the paper beads into baskets.

You can get woven baskets really inexpensively at thrift stores, or just poke around in your own house to find some.

Use paper beads to weave or sew into the gaps in the baskets to give them a visual upgrade and add some color to them. Baskets that have large-ish gaps between the woven areas will work best unless your paper beads are smaller or flatter shapes.

Or make your own basket completely out of your beads!

9. Use paper beads to make the ultimate 1970’s beaded door curtain.

This would be an ambitious project, but think about it…How awesome would it be to have a beaded curtain made from paper beads somewhere in your home? Okay, maybe it’s not for everyone, but this could be a real showstopper.

You could also use smaller strands of paper beads to hang in windows as a curtain. Not quite as ambitious as filling an entire door, but it would still be pretty sweet.

You wouldn’t have to glaze the beads, either. One step eliminated!

what to make with paper beads, supplies package from Squeakerchimp on Etsy.
Paper Bead supplies from Squeakerchimp on Etsy.Opens in a new tab.

10. Use paper beads for crafting, assemblage art, and junk journals.

Adding paper beads to junk journals or collages will give some surface interest to your assemblage art.

Depending on the project, the beads could be larger or smaller, and these could be glazed or unglazed depending on whether you plan to paint them after they’re attached to the collage surface.

This could also be a good way to use up extra paper and save money on craft supplies if you have kids who go through those like crazy. Older kids will be able to use paper beads in their crafts, and they might even like making them themselves.

11. Make ribbon or cord bookmarks.

You can use paper beads as a decorative element on a piece of cord or ribbon that can then be used as a bookmark. Very fancy!

These would be good gifts to give to people who like to read, obviously, but also for people who cook and keep track of multiple pages in cookbooks. Ribbon bookmarks work well when you have to have a bunch of page markers in the same book.

What to make with paper beads- Put them in a bowl for a centerpiece
Centerpiece bowl full of paper beads.

12. Make a party centerpiece from paper beads.

This idea combines a couple of the other ones. A large decorative bowl that’s full of paper beads can serve as an fun centerpiece on a table, and after the food is served, the kids who are there can be sent off to make some crafts with them.

Make sure that the kids are old enough to use the beads safely, because paper beads are a choking hazard for little kids!

This would be a good activity for a birthday party, and the beads could be made in colors that coordinate with the party theme. Or they could be all white and the kids could decorate them with markers or paint.

You could even do a paper bead party, and send each kid home with a bag of beads and a roller to make some themselves.

Check out Squeakerchimp on Etsy for paper bead supplies and printable templates by clicking here: Paper bead suppliesOpens in a new tab.

13. Create a theft-prevention system for pens and pencils!

If you or someone you know always has people stealing their pens, you can make a large bead that’s attached to the pencil. Make it large and obvious enough that if it’s stolen, it will be pretty clear who took it!

Kids will like the decorated pencils, too. You can also add their names onto the pencils to personalize them.

14. Sell your beads.

You can sell the beads that you make to clear them out, but don’t expect to get rich from them. The time that they take to make isn’t reflected in the price that people are charging for them on Etsy (which means it’s cheap for the buyer but isn’t a good profit for the seller.)

If you do want to sell your beads, you might want to look into local sales to avoid having to deal with shipping and Etsy fees, which will decrease your profits!

Check out the paper bead selection on Etsy here: Paper BeadsOpens in a new tab.

15. Donate your beads to a local high school art program.

I promise you…Art teachers in middle and high schools will appreciate the donation of a bunch of handmade paper beads. This is the kind of thing that kids will find really interesting, and if the teachers don’t have to buy the supplies to make them, that’s a bonus.

The reason I suggest donating to the schools for older kids is that it’s just safer as far as the choking hazard risk goes.

Because paper beads can be used for so many different types of artwork, a big bag of donated beads would be very much appreciated by most art teachers.

Paper beads Christmas ornament made by Zoe of Squeakerchimp.
Christmas ornament made by Zoe of Squeakerchimp.

16. Make Christmas ornaments.

You can wire paper beads on shaped frames to create beaded ornaments or snowflakes for your Christmas tree.

You can also glue them to a round wooden disc or another shape to make a decorated shaped ornament.

17. Make beaded mosaic signs for your house.

If you’re really crafty, you can glue paper beads onto a piece of wood in a mosaic pattern, then seal the completed sign with polyacrylic sealer.

This could be a house number sign, or any other sign that has a word or number on it. You would have to plan it out and get the right number of beads in the correct colors to use, but this would be a really cool project if you can pull it off.

This kind of thing should be used indoors or in a protected area so that the paper doesn’t get wet. Sealing the beads can make them water-resistant but it’s not guaranteed to make them waterproof.

What to make with paper beads- Glue paper beads to a picture frame or the glass to customize the frame
Glue paper beads to a picture frame or the glass to customize the frame.

18. Make decorative picture frames.

Use a plain picture frame and glue paper beads onto it to upgrade the design.

If you start with a plain wood frame you could paint it first, then add one row of beads, or just put the beads on the frame in a random pattern.

This is a fun way to personalize a room and make a keepsake frame.

Paper beads have a lot of potential uses that aren’t jewelry-related, so don’t limit yourself to making jewelry with them!


Kara Buntin

Kara Buntin has run a profitable home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 51,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO. She founded the Artisan Shopping Directory website to promote the artisans who are members of her EShop Success marketing program.

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