Here are just a few samples of what I have done. Right now, for the most part, I use, a very bright white copy paper for the majority of my paper beads. This is the paper that my "Paper Bead Generator" is meant for. According to the package of copy paper I have, it is 20lb Multipurpose bright white paper with a brightness of 92.
My Secret for Printouts that Don't Run!
I use Hammermill Bright white copy paper with a brightness of 92. It has ColorLoc technology in it so the colors are not supposed to run. I also print out the sheets at the 72ppi that you see on browser screens. Sometimes I print out at 96ppi which also works fine. I try not to print out at a higher resolution because it is not really needed and the extra ink can run.
Here are other papers you can use to make your beads.
Brown Paper Bags
Brown paper bags give your beads a really rustic woodsy look. They look great in jewelry that has natural beads such as wood, bone and natural shells. You can also use them with hemp and other natural cords for bracelets and jewelry.
I have used brown bags alot! Just cut the bottom out, cut down the center back, along the seam and you have a large piece of brown paper you can decorate how ever you want! I like to use colored pencils or crayons for decorating the brown papers. Remember the thicker the brown paper, the thicker your beads will be. For example, if you use a brown lunch bag, the brown paper will be thinner than if you used a brown paper bag from the grocery store. Don't be afraid to experiment with different marking mediums. Water colors paints will bleed when you glaze the beads but thinned acrylic paints and permanent inks will not. If you use permanent markers like sharpies, they may develop a fuzzy edge to your marks since the paper is really absorbent. If that is the effect you want, then go for it!
I have actually cut brown paper bags to an 8.5" x 11" size and printed on them in my printer! The ink did not run and really created some great effects!
This is one of the most popular papers for making paper beads! The greatest advantage to using scrapbook paper is you don't have to decorate the paper yourself and there are thousands of different designs out there for you to choose from. Plus it comes in many sizes giving you a wide array of sizes of beads you can make from one strip of paper. Another advantage is the pre-printed papers will never run when you glaze your beads! If you buy solid colored scrapbook paper, the color can bleed so before making a whole bunch of beads with one solid color, drizzle a few drops of water on your paper and see if the color will run.
One thing to keep in mind with just about all scrapbook paper, is the paper core is white so you could end up with white lines on your beads. You can fix this by coloring the edges of your paper with a color that will match the paper you are using. I would use a sharpie or some other permanent marker.
I have used gift wrap for a lot of beads when I first started out making beads back in 1997. One thing I found out is not all give wrap is created equal. There are some where the print will rub off, some are really thin and not really worth making beads from and others are great to use but also thinner than copy paper so you need to use really long strips or layers of them. Plus the paper core is white so you could end up with white lines on your beads.
This paper is really thin but works great for beads when you use really long strips or layers of strips. It glues well and takes on glaze really well. Also since it is so absorbent, it is a good paper for using acrylic paints on after your beads are made. This is a great way to recycle. Expect the beads to yellow over time since newsprint does have acid in it. That is one reason to apply nail polish or paint to your beads after you are done rolling them. That way they will stay the color you want.
Magazine and catalog paper comes in different thicknesses but there are so many out there, it's a good idea to make beads from them. You can treat them the same as you would newspaper if you want. It will take several layers to make larger beads but if you want tiny beads, you can use one layer. It's totally up to you! Be creative!
There are so many choices out there for cardboard boxes. I am really talking the colorful cardboard packaging you get when you buy cereal, tissues, cookies, crackers and anything that is consumable where you would normally just throw the box in the recycle bin when you are done with it.
I don't like to roll this type of cardboard into beads without separating the backing from the front first. When you roll up the cardboard as it is, you get a clunky thick bead and the edges of the strips are tend to fold instead of bending smoothly. The cardboard is made in layers and the layers can be pulled part! I like to roll the separated layers and roll them up. The ugly inside layers can then be painted or colored to make them look nicer and the outer layers can be rolled up for some really pretty beads!
This is the paper that was used first to make paper beads back in the Victorian era! Wall papers are and have been always very expensive so to not waste it, women would make beads out of left over wall paper and use knitting needles to roll them up. They would then make paper bead curtains and other items to decorate their homes with.
Today wall paper is just another paper you can use to make your paper beads with but remember, not all wall paper is created equally but all are somewhat thick. Some have plastic coating, some have metallic coating. So not all wall paper is suitable for making paper beads. Experiment with it and you will learn what works for your and what does not.
You might be able to get some wall paper samples from your local home improvement store and I know big box stores have wall paper boarders that might make great looking beads!
I have used cat food can labels, Campbell soup labels, Progresso Soup labels to make beads but think of all of the other cans out there that have pretty labels! One thing to remember, the paper is thin so one strip of paper from these cans will make really thin beads so keep your wide end narrow and use the smallest size bead roller you can find to get best results from rolling these papers.
The little inside gold and silver wrapper that comes inside a box of cigarettes is what I am talking about here. No I don't smoke but my husband does. When I ask him, he will save me the inside wrapper from his boxes of cigarettes so I can make beads with them. Generally I like to use them as outer wraps for tube beads. I cut them up into sizes that will fit around a tube bead core made of plain solid colored or white copy paper. I have also used a core of news paper and construction paper with these wrappers. They make for some interesting looking beads.
Construction paper is fun to work with but when glazing them with the dip method, they can come undone really easily. For this reason, I like to use them for cores of beads that I intend to cover with copy paper or some other paper that really stays glued well. This makes great looking two toned beads. The possibilities are endless when using the different colors of construction paper. Make sure you use fresh new construction paper because over time, the paper can fade. If that is the look you are after, then go for it!
Gift Bag Paper
Gift bag paper is thicker than gift wrap so it makes better beads. Now I am not saying, go out and buy gift bags just to make beads with it but use gift bags that are no longer usable for giving gifts in. I am saying, recycle those bags that have tears in them so they don't have to go into the trash!
You can make great paper beads with handmade papers! Some papers are thick so they will produce a larger bead than say, copy paper of the same size strip. The possibilities are also endless here to because you can decorate the paper before cutting it into strips as you can for any paper you use! Have fun and be creative!
Card stock is great paper for making paper beads! It is thick but not so thick that it creases like cereal boxes but it is thicker than copy paper and comes in a wide array of prints and colors! Like scrapbook paper, most of your colored cardstocks have white cores so you may want to color the edges of the strips before rolling them. Some solid colored cardstock has solid color cores the same color as the surface and some of those sheets of cardstock can bleed so drop some water on a piece to see if the color bleeds before using it.
There is so much junk mail that the possibilities for making beads with it is only limited to your imagination! There are magazines, catalogs, flyers, post cards from politicians, security envelopes and so much more! Just think about it! I never ending supply of papers to work with!
This paper is really thin and it comes in a wide array of colors and prints! I like to use the prints as wraps for tube beads so I can really see the prints! You can use the solid color paper as cores and wrap the printed origami paper around the cores. This paper is really absorbent so it may take an extra coat or two of an under-glaze before topping it off with your topcoat to get the desired finish. I think real origami paper is made from rice paper.
This paper works best when you back it with either copy paper or tissue paper. I have a video on how to use tissue paper with newspaper to make beads. The resulting beads come out really pretty and can be thick if you use copy paper as your backer. Give it a try and be creative! You can use regular white all purpose glue to glue the end down. Again, the possibilities are endless with tissue paper and other papers as backers.
I saved this one for last because this can really be a seasonal thing and really for more advanced bead makers out there who want to venture out beyond recycling paper. When I made beads with birch bark, I had to use super glue gel to keep my beads from unwinding if I didn't apply a really tacky glue to the whole strip first. The way you use it is you go find yourself a birch tree that has fallen and and peel the largest sheet of bark you can from the log. Pull the layers apart and cut the layers into strips. If you allow the bark to dry too long, it will get brittle and you will have to soak the bark in water for about an hour, allow to dry to the touch, then cut it into strips. I would apply glue all the way down to the end and then roll it up and apply the super glue to the end if needed. Experiment with it! It is possible to make really pretty beads with birch bark but it does take patience.