Beading Basics

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Paper Beads

Paper beads are also easy to make. This is a super recycling craft, too, since you can use scraps of gift wrap, junk mail, newspaper comics, and old magazines to create colorful and unusual beads.

Just cut long triangles out of any interesting paper. Experiment with different papers to see what kind of effect you get once your bead is wound.

Coat the surface of the paper with glue using a small paintbrush. Roll it up on a toothpick, skewer, or drinking straw, depending on the size of the hole you want. If necessary, add a bit more glue to secure the end of the paper and hold for a few seconds to make sure it's set.

If you're using a straw, just cut it off on both sides of the bead. If you're using a skewer or other item, gently pull it out. Let the bead dry. You can also use contact paper or self-adhesive wallpaper, and you can cut your paper in a rectangle instead of a triangle to get a cylindrical bead.

Ribbon Beads

Get some grosgrain ribbon in the colors you want (you can try other ribbons, too, but grosgrain seems to work the best), a knitting needle or wooden skewer in the size you want the hole to be, and some craft glue.

Cut off about eight inches of ribbon for each bead. Trim both ends of the ribbon straight across for clean edges. Roll the ribbon tightly around the skewer to make a bead. Spread some glue along the end of the ribbon on the underside and press the glued end down. Hold for a few seconds to set the glue. Carefully slide the bead off the stick and dab glue on both ends of the bead. Let dry.

String your beads on a piece of ribbon or sneaker laces. Add purchased beads in between, if you like, or make knots.

Glass Beads

Making glass beads in the traditional manner takes patience, practice, and more than a few dollars in equipment. However, you can make glass beads at home. Some interesting molded beads or pendant pieces can actually be made in your own microwave oven.

See Glass Painting for more ideas.

Store-Bought Beads

Send away for some catalogs and visit some bead stores in your area (or when you're traveling!) to get an idea of all the varieties of beads available.

You can also paint store-bought wooden beads. Just clean them with white vinegar, let them dry, and then paint with acrylic paints. You can use permanent marking pen, too, especially for outlining to give definition to your designs.

Air-brushing works well, too. After the beads have dried completely, spray them with fixative.

Be aware that beads come in different sizes, which are expressed in millimeters (mm) even in the United States. This usually indicates the diameter of the bead, or the distance through the bead hole.

As you and your child become more involved in beading, you may want to make beads out of items that aren't beads to begin with. Buttons, pieces of shell or bone, and other objects can all become beads if a hole is introduced. A small electric drill like a Dremel is handy to have (or you may be able to borrow one from another crafter).

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More on: Crafts for Kids

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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