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Paper Bead Making
Applique Paper Beads

How to Make Applique Paper BeadsLearn how you can make applique paper beads that look like ceramic or porcelain beads that have flowers and other designs painted on them after the bead is made.

I have been making paper beads since around October 1996 and through the years I have been wondering how I could add pretty designs to the beads after they are rolled. I have made wrapped beads by cutting small pieces of scrap paper to the same size as I needed to go all the way around the bead but that is not exactly what I was after. Finally, I was flipping through some YouTube videos, just for fun, and came across a video about applying decals to fingernails. I thought to myself, hey, that may be adaptable to making paper beads. So I watched a few videos on how the water transfer thing is done and it reminded me of a water transfer project I did with my Aunt, as a teenager and thought to myself, how clever to use this same technique for fingernails. The project I made with my aunt was applying a flower design to a small ceramic planter. That was my very first experience with the water transfer technique.

Now that I make paper beads, I figured if water transfer can be done with fingernails, why not paper beads! So I ordered my first pack of water transfer decals through Wish.com, waited a few weeks for them to arrive, let them sit in my office for at least a couple more weeks before I got started. Once I got started, I could not stop! Even though they were difficult to do at first, I was determined to get better at it since they were coming out so stinking cute! They are the most adorable paper beads I have ever made! They are not easy and you have to have patience and a steady hand but the effort and time it takes to make them is so worth it!

This technique can also be used on wood, clay or any other type of bead with a hard smooth surface that you can adhere the tiny images to.


Watch the Video Here!

Materials Needed

  • Plain White 110lb index weight cardstock in white for best results.
  • Paper Bead Template, size of your choice, optional. I used 1/2" x 1/8" x 8.5" strips
  • Extra scrap paper to make waste beads if not using template paper.
  • Water Transfer Nail Art Designs - Link Below
  • Small amount of water
  • White Glue for gluing bead as you go.
  • Glaze of your choice for glazing rolled beads. I use 2 coats PC-Petrifier and 2 Coats of Janice Mae's Vibrance.

Tools Needed

  • Tools for cutting your cardstock into strips
  • Paper Bead Roller, your choice of size hole. I used 5/64"
  • Toothpick or needle tool to use to apply glue to strip as you roll
  • Small container to keep your beads in until they are all rolled.
  • Small bottle for holding water.
  • Small dish to pour water into for dipping the decals into.
  • Small nose Tweezers - important
  • Small nose scissors- important
  • Paper Bead Drying Rack and supplies to go with it: ie-50lb fishing line, 2mm crimp beads, needle nose pliers

Cut your cardstock into strips first.

  1. Layer your cutting template on top of your white cardstock. You are going to use this template for your waste beads once they are cut. Clip them together on the opposite side of where you will start cutting the cardstock into strips. Using the template does 2 things for you. It prevents unwanted, ugly, marks on your finished beads and it gives you paper strips for your waste beads, when you glaze them.
  2. Following the cutting lines, cut your cardstock into strips and separate the template strips from your cardstock strips.

Roll your Waste Beads

  1. Using a 5/64" bead roller, roll the template strips into waste beads and set them aside.

Making your Applique Paper Beads

NOTE: Make each bead one at a time, applying your appliques as you finish rolling each bead. Do not take the bead off of your bead roller until the appliques are on your bead.

  1. Pick up one strip, have your glue ready, start rolling your strip and apply glue to your strip as you roll. Normally I would instruct you to only glue the end down but you don't want the rolled bead to shift on you once the applique is on your bead. Roll slowly to keep your strip centered. I use a needle to tool to apply my plain white glue on the strip. I don't use glue stick but you could if you wanted to.
  2. Once the bead is rolled. Prepare your water decal applique. Follow the water transfer part of the instructions for applying your little nail decals. If you don't have instructions, with your decals, follow the steps below.

Water Transfer Instructions

Watch the video so you can see me actually doing these next steps if the instructions are not clear enough.

  1. Pour water into a small shallow dish. Use just enough to dip a very small piece of paper into it. I use about 2 tsps of water at a time. I use a teabag holder to put my water in. It's shallow and easy to work with.
  2. Pull the protective plastic layer off of your decal sheet. Cut a decal out of your decal sheet, cutting very close to the image itself. Leave a space on one edge so you have a place to hold while sliding off the image from your transfer paper.
  3. Drop the cut out decal, face down, in the water and let it soak for up to 30 seconds. You want to completely saturate the backing paper.
  4. With the narrow nose tweezers, pick up the decal, place it in your non dominant hand with the image facing up. Then with your dominant hand, hold the tweezers closed and use them to slide the image off of the backer just a bit, just enough so you can lift it off the rest of the way with your tweezers.
  5. Lay the image on your bead, face up, and with your finger, smooth it down on your bead, slightly burnishing it with your fingertip so it will stay. There is an adhesive on the back side of the decal so it should stick.
  6. Repeat these steps for each decal until you have the desired number of decals on your bead.
  7. Take your bead off of your bead roller and repeat for the rest of your strips.

Glaze Your Beads

When you are finished rolling your beads, you will want to glaze them to protect them. I glaze my beads by dipping them. Follow the steps below to glaze these beads.

  1. Cut a piece of fishing line the same lenth as the clearance height you have in your bead drying rack or what ever space you have where you will hang your beads.
  2. Make a loop at one end of your fishing line securing it with a 2mm crimp bead.
  3. Add one or 2 waste beads at this first end of your fishing line. Normally I would not use waste beads, I would accept the fact that the bead at each end would not be usable because of the excess drips into the hole but since I am only able to get 5 or 6 beads from each small sheet of decals, I use waste beads at each end to make sure the holes in my pretty beads are clean all the way through.
  4. String on your pretty applique beads, then one or 2 more waste beads at the other end.
  5. Make another crimped loop at the end so you can invert your strands after each dip.
  6. Dip your beads 2 times into PC-Petrifier and 2 times into Vibrance to glaze your beads. Allow your strands of beads to dry one hour between dips. After each dip, invert your strands and break apart the beads, they will be stuck together. Allow your beads to dry overnight, after the last dip, before you use them for making jewelry.