DIY Paper Bead Tutorial: Tube Beads From Magazines & Catalogs
Updated: May 6
Today's tutorial is about the second type of paper bead that I make frequently, and which makes a terrific companion to the bicone beads you've seen: tube beads! Aka tubular beads, aka cylindrical beads.
A LOT of the steps are very similar to or the same as making bicone beads, so there will be substantial overlap between this tutorial and the bicone bead tutorial. I will make a note of the differences with a ** as we go to help you keep things straight. Also I didn't get photos of every single step using the tube bead strips, so some steps may show the bicone bead strip--sorry, I hope that's not too confusing!
Updated 5/6/23 with paper bead dip glaze tutorial link at end.
OK, let's get started...
Stage 1: Cutting the Paper Strips
--Magazine or catalog paper
--Ruler + X-acto knife + self-heating cutting mat OR ruler + pen + scissors
--Optional: Paper cutter
Step 0: Understand what section of the paper will show when the bead is rolled.
**One great thing about tube beads is that you only need a small amount of a good image/print/color on your sheet to get the desired effect. Unlike with the bicone beads, in which the tip of the triangular strip and both edges will show in the final bead, the only part of your paper that matters for a tube bead is one end! This makes tube beads a terrific option for when you don't have a nice large image to work from.
Step 1: Select your paper.
For my paper, I selected Lands End catalog page with a red/navy/white fleece dress image. If you have a full page image, go for it, but you can use a moderate sized one like this. **Unlike with the bicone beads, you do not need a large image, just a wide one.
Step 2: Cut the image from the paper into a rectangular shape.
If you are using an image that is already rectangular, like the coral image from the bicone bead tutorial, just cut around it and you're good to go.
But if you have an irregularly shaped image like this one, you will need to create the rectangular shape yourself. First, cut a straight edge at a point where the desired print (in this case, the dress) shows along the edge.
Now the extra paper to the right has been cut away and we have a clean edge.
Second, cut off the extra paper at the bottom, beyond where the desired print is.
Third, clean up the other two edges of the page as needed. (In this case, the left side and top of the page were already clean edges from how the catalog was laid out.) Now you should have a nice rectangular sheet to start cutting your strips. Remember from Step 0 that the only part of the image that will show is one end of the bead strips. Here the dress area will be the ends that show and the white background with text on it will be covered as the bead is rolled
**Another great thing about tube beads is how easy the strips are to cut! Instead of the triangular strips of the bicone bead where you have to get your angles right, here you will just be cutting straight rectangular strips from the rectangular sheet.
There are many ways to cut your strips. You can basically replicate the drawing above using a ruler and pen (on the wrong side of the image) and then cut the strips out. That's what I did at first. But I found it was faster, plus I could see how the strip would look before I cut, lining up my paper using the ruler on the self-healing mat, placing my ruler where the drawn line would be, then cutting along the edge of the ruler with an X-acto knife.
**For this example, I am making 0.5" tube beads so I'm creating rectangles that are 0.5" wide. But you can use any size you like.
**Step 3: Cut rectangular strips that are the width of your desired bead. Remember that you need to line up your sheet so that the good part of the image is at one end of the strips; so you want to cut up and down as shown below, with the plaid dress along the top or bottom of the sheet.
**Step 4: Continue cutting your rectangular strips until you have the number you need or you reach the point where you no longer have your desired print on the edge of the sheet. In this case, I kept cutting strips until I ran out of the plaid dress on the bottom end of the paper.
**Here are the rectangular tube strips made from my catalog dress image. They are 0.5" wide and about 6.5" long.
We have our strips so it's time for Stage 2!
Stage 2: Rolling & Gluing the Beads
**--Rectangular tube paper strips
--Paper bead roller or a toothpick, bamboo skewer, etc. for rolling. I strongly recommend a paper bead roller! You can find ways to DIY your own, but I bought mine...I got ones from PaperBeadRollers.com. (Some of their items are also available on Amazon.) For typical, somewhat thin magazine and catalog pages, I recommend the red (3/32") or green (5/64") size. However, the blue (1/8") works fine with magazine/catalog covers or thicker magazines (like my alumni magazine). You can also fold the edge of your paper strip over to fit more securely in a larger roller if you need to.
--Glue. I used regular Elmer's glue and put together this fancy set up of glue in a paper spoon on top of a piece of cereal box with a toothpick for applying. Some people put glue into little needle-nosed bottles to apply, but the glue was so thick that it didn't work for me.
--Damp and dry paper towels for cleaning excess glue off your fingers. Trust me, you'll want this. I put the damp towel in a random plastic thing something was packaged in.
--An area for the rolled beads to dry. You can put toothpicks into a block of styrofoam, an old pie tin (as I show below), or a florist foam block. **For bicone beads, I just put them on the blue butter package lid to dry because there isn't much glue involved. But for tube beads, there is more glue and you will want to leave the beads oriented upright on the toothpicks to dry. I found the pie tin a bit awkward to futz with so I have since replaced it with a floral foam block in which the toothpicks sit more securely.
--Large piece of cardboard, paper bag, or whatever else you have on hand to protect your workspace and minimize clean up.
I recommend Kelly's beginner's video tutorial (under 9 minutes long) for rolling paper beads so you can see the rolling in action. **For a nice short look at how to roll tube beads in particular, I like this tutorial from Squeaker Chimp; the video from 4:00 to 7:00 shows the rolling of the bead.
But I am going to lay out the steps below for a couple reasons. (1) If you're like me, you might want to revisit the steps for your reference. And (2) I handle the gluing step just a bit differently so I want to show the photographs for that. I'm also going to add some extra commentary on using magazine/catalog paper vs. the thicker cardstock that Kelly demonstrates.
Step 1: Insert the end of the strip into the slit in the paper bead roller with the image side down.
Step 2: Twist the roller toward yourself to get the bead started. If your paper is too thin and pops out of the slit in the roller, fold a tiny bit of the end of the strip over to double thickness and try again.
**Step 3: Guide the paper as you continue to twist the bead roller toward yourself and roll up the paper. You want to keep the strip centered as it rolls so that both edges are the beads are lined up to create a tube/cylinder. If you find that the bead is getting lopsided, loosen up the paper to unroll it a bit and start rolling again with better alignment. This will quickly start to feel natural to you with a bit of practice.
**Step 4: Keep rolling the bead with the top and bottom aligned as you go. The tube shape is starting to become apparent now.
Step 5: Stop rolling when you get to about an inch from the end of the strip and prepare to add the glue.
This is where my technique differs from those I've seen other people use. Instead of moving the roller/bead from the right hand to the left to apply the glue, I keep it where it is in my right hand and apply the glue with the left hand. It's not difficult, so I recommend you try it out. But if you don't like it, you can easily follow one of the other methods (as in the video above).
Hold the paper in place on the roller using your right index finger, applying pressure from behind, with the loose end of the strip facing you.
Step 6: While continuing to hold the paper in place with your right index finger, use your left hand to apply a small amount of glue on the last 0.5-1" of the paper strip with a toothpick. You don't need a lot of glue and you don't need to be super neat about applying it.
Step 7: While holding the rolled strip in place with your right hand, start guiding the end of the strip upward with your left index finger.
Step 9: Roll the end of the paper up with your left finger while twisting the roller toward you. Your left finger guides the loose end of the paper and keeps it close to the rolled bead as you twist.
**Step 10: When you've reached the end of the strip, secure the end of the strip carefully, keeping the paper aligned, and clear away any extra glue. This is different from the bicone bead tutorial where we rubbed the extra glue onto the grooves of the bead. In the case of tube beads that are smooth, any extra glue just makes a mess on the surface!
**Step 11: Remove the bead from the paper bead roller carefully. Check the alignment of your bead. Is there extra paper at the top or bottom of the bead? If so, push the end of the bead down against a hard surface to straighten it up.
**Step 12: To help the tube bead keep its shape, I like to put the bead onto the end of a bamboo skewer and apply glue to the top end of the finished bead, covering the tightly rolled edges of paper. You don't need to use a ton of glue; just apply a thin layer all over the top end of the bead.
**Step 12: Remove from the bamboo skewer and place onto a toothpick with the glued end still upward. Let your bead dry. How long this takes depends on the glue you're using, but I found that mine were dry in 20-30 minutes.
This is a good time to mention that there are several pieces to consider when figuring out how big your beads will be. I would advise not to sweat the details on this because you're not going to be able to easily predict the exact size of your finished bead, experimentation will teach you a lot, and the sense of "ooh how is this going to turn out" is part of the fun of making paper beads. But there are some general concepts to keep in mind that I've summarized here.
One part that's a bit counter-intuitive is that the width of your strip determines the length of your bead (measured hole to hole) and the length of your strip determines the...I don't know what the term is, but the fatness or chunkiness of the bead. It's not complicated once you've thought it through...the longer the strip, the more layers of paper build up on the bead and the fatter it gets...but I have read about people finding this confusing, so I want to take a moment to let that sink it.
I will note that some people have success making fatter beads by rolling multiple stripes of paper at a time, but I think it's best to master the basic technique before trying that. For a beginner like me, it's not as easy as it looks to keep all those layers lined up right.
**Stage 2.5: Painting the Ends of the Tube Beads
Once your paper strip is rolled up, the ends of the bead will almost assuredly need some touch up of color! People often use permanent marker or acrylic paint (just as we saw in bicone examples part 2) to cover the ends. I prefer using metallic acrylic paint because it is not as opaque and thus results in a softer wash of color...which has the added benefit of still looking great even if you don't apply your paint in the absolute neatest way (which describes me).
Here is another video tutorial that shows how to paint the ends of the bead starting at 2:00. (But this is a good tutorial overall if you'd like to see another person's technique. You will see that she adds glue all along as she rolls instead of adding glue to one end after the bead is rolled. I haven't tried it that way, but it's an option.)
I don't have photos of this part, but here are the basic steps I follow.
Step 1: Put the bead onto a bamboo skewer.
Step 2: Paint the top end of the bead using a small paintbrush, going slightly inside the hole and painting a bit around the edge where it will show on rounded part of the bead. It doesn't have to be super neatly applied with an edge that is perfect! I mean, you can try to be perfect if you want, but I actually like the organic look of it not being perfectly tidy.
Step 3: Put the bamboo skewer into a floral foam block/styrofoam block and let the paint thoroughly dry (so it doesn't get smudged all over your bead...unless that's the look you want, in which case, go for it).
Here is an example of some tube beads with black metallic acrylic paint applied to one end and the other end not yet painted. You can see that my beads are not all perfectly aligned on top and bottom, but when the ends are painted, that will not be obvious. Also note that I did not apply the paint perfectly neatly and consistently around each bead. And they still turn out great when they're done!
Step 4: Paint the other end of the bead the same way and let it dry.
Stage 3: Glazing the Beads
You absolutely need to glaze your beads to toughen them up. There are a lot of different methods you can use, but I tried the Diamond Glaze technique shown by Kelly at Paper Bead Rollers, described below.
5/6/23 update: I can also recommend a dip glaze method for glazing a larger number of beads. See my tutorial here.
--Dry paper beads
--Judikins Diamond Glaze (which can be a bear to open; I have dedicated that green gripper thingy to it)
--Something to hold your glaze...I just tear a piece of cardboard from our recycling so I can just throw it out when I'm done instead of having to wash something, but a little paint dish works too
--Bamboo skewers and a floral foam or styrofoam block to hold them
--A flat-edge paintbrush and jar of water (not shown...oops)
Kelly has an under 10-minute video that shows the exact technique that I use. It's very straightforward...you're basically just painting the glaze onto the beads...so I'm not going to set out the steps here. Just watch the video and it will make sense! I do two coats of Diamond Glaze on my beads. I will admit that it's a kind of tedious process but I like how quickly the Diamond Glazed beads dry compared to other sealants and the final beads look great.
**One thing to remember for tube beads is that you want to be sure to completely cover both painted ends of the bead when you add the glaze. (Not the hole of the bead, of course, but the entire painted paper part.) The way I keep it straight is that I apply the glaze to the body of the bead and the top end, then put the skewer in the foam block to dry. When it's time to do the second coat, I flip the bead over on the skewer, then apply the second coat of glaze to the body and coat the not-previously-glazed end. I actually do that flip between the first and second coats for bicone beads, too. Getting good coverage with glaze is critical for the tube beads with the wide blunt ends.
You can use your paper beads a million different ways, just like you would any other beads. I've been using mine to make bracelets using 0.5mm Stretch Magic and spacer beads, with a double knot reinforced with GS Hypo Cement. (There are a billion tutorials out there on Pinterest.) **It didn't take long for me to settle on 11-12 0.5" tube beads plus 11-12 5-6mm spacer beads to make a bracelet that is about 8" in circumference. I make typical beaded bracelets about 7.75" but go up a bit when using paper beads for two reasons. (1) The paper beads are a little stickier to the skin when putting them on, and (2) the longer beads make a bracelet that isn't as easily moldable to the shape of your hand when rolling the bracelet on and off. (Definitely roll the bracelet on and off if you don't want your elastic to break!)
**One thing to note about both bicone and tube paper beads made into bracelets: paper beads are incredibly lightweight, more so even than you might expect. That means that when you make a bracelet with spacer beads (almost guaranteed to be heavier than paper), a bracelet like the one above that doesn't have a spacer bead between the paper beads where the knot is, will have a slight tendency to roll around on your arm when you're wearing it. I have learned the hard way that if at all possible, you want to have another spacer bead there on the back to keep the weight balanced correctly. It's not a super huge deal, but it is a bit annoying when your bracelet has turned itself around on your arm so that the side without the spacer bead is on the top!
In my next paper bead post, I will share some examples of how catalog and magazine paper looks when made into tube beads.
Blogs I link up with are listed here.