Above you can see why I haven’t been knitting much lately. I needed to do a craft with second and third graders as part of a job interview, so I pulled out this old favorite. These beads are easy and almost always beautiful, and I underestimated my ability to get badly addicted to this project. To say that I made hundreds is not an exaggeration. I even have a bead-making injury: the tip of my right index finger got a callus on it, and I picked the callus off, so now I have to wait until it heals before I make more.
This is a great project for families because everyone from about 7 years old on up can participate and the end products are beautiful. Here’s how they’re made:
Magazines and newspapers
Nails (medium-sized are best, but you can experiment)
Thread or fishing line for threading
- Cut out LONG, SKINNY triangles from magazines or newspapers. You can experiment with a variety of sizes, but the base of the triangle must be SHORTER than the nail you are using. At minimum, the triangle should be about 7-8 inches long, though ideally it should be much longer. The longer the triangle is, the wider the bead will be at its middle.
- Align the base of the triangle with the nail. Holding the paper in place with the thumb and forefinger of one hand (this is how I got the callus), use the other thumb and forefinger to rotate the nail so the paper is gradually wrapped around the nail. The bead will grow and thickness as your wrap it around the nail.
- When there are about two inches left on the “point” end of the triangle, put the bead on the table and cover the remaining paper with glue. Then finish wrapping the paper around the nail, pressing the point firmly in place. Carefully slide the bead off the nail. The glue will dry quickly.
Clearly any jewelry made from these beads is not suitable for rainy days, but in other ways the beads are much sturdier than they look. On my to-do list is to stop into an art store to see if they have a fixative spray or other product that will make these beads slightly more waterproof than they currently are. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know!
And no, I haven’t completely stopped knitting. I did some work on my English rib sweater and am almost ready to start decreasing for the sleeves. I am still finishing up both The Year of Lear and The Winter’s Tale, but I’ve also started Welcome to Braggsville and am enjoying it so far. More details to come!
Yarn Along is hosted by Ginny on her blog, Small Things.
I’m glad you left the instructions for the beads! I haven’t seen this done before, but we are finishing up our homeschool work for this year and will be filling our time with crafts and baking until the new year, and I think my kids would LOVE this 🙂 Your sweater is looking great too!
Thanks! I’m glad you like the project — it ‘s perfect for mixed-age groups (like families). I hope your kids love it!
I just love it all! So sorry about your poor finger! When I was growing up we lived over the hill (a mile away, our closest neighbor) from a gypsy orphan lady who taught me to make these beads. At the time I didn’t appreciate it because they were “just trash and glue.” I sorely miss her now. Thanks so much for sharing!
Wow, great story! I’ve had people tell me these beads are a traditional African craft (I don’t know if that’s true or not), but this is my first gypsy. I’m boring — I learned how to make them in an art class. 🙂
What a fun project and a great way to recycle paper that would otherwise go to the landfill! Thanks for leaving instructions…my granddaughter is coming for a visit this weekend!
I hope she loves it!!
Those are amazing. Wish I had known about that one when I was a Girl Scout leader!
This project would be fantastic for Girl Scouts, but it’s great for solo adults too! 🙂
I’ve never seen the beads before! Brilliant! thanks for the tutorial
You’re welcome! I hope you love it!
My SIL has made those beads before with my daughter and they are addictive AND beautiful! Your sweater is looking great as well.
So cute!!! Thank you for sharing the tutorial! 🙂
I will have to try the beads just because, since I am not a teacher, grandmother ( until June!), or Girl Scout leader.
Your jumper looks to be very cosy, perfect for winter. I have owned such a bead chain once, it as beautiful. Thanks for noting down the instructions.
You’re welcome! I’m loving the sweater too.
What a great post, these beads look so pretty and quite easy…perfect for a cold wet winter evening💕
Ooh bead making sounds fun (and slightly painful!)
As always, moderation is the key. 🙂