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How to Make Paper Bead Bracelets

This is an easy to follow tutorial on how to make gorgeous paper beads from repurposed old road maps. It also shows how to then make paper bead bracelets and necklaces.

Old road maps are one of my favourite things to upcycle and repurpose. I often repurpose maps for home decor crafts, but occasionally I also use them to make jewellery.

In the past, I’ve made world map necklaces using broken eyeglasses. This time I’ve used old maps to make a personalized bracelet.

Using Road Maps To Make Paper Beads

There are several reasons why old road maps are great for making paper bead jewellery.

  1. Firstly, the maps make the jewellery more interesting and personal. If you use a road map of somewhere special this instantly gives the item sentimental value.
  2. Secondly, old road maps just look great, they come in lots of different colours. The road patterns on the old maps translate into interesting patterns on the paper beads.
  3. Thirdly, old road maps are a very affordable and environmentally friendly source of craft paper. I get most of my old road maps from elderly relatives, but they can also be found cheaply in thrift stores. Road maps go out of date and most people use sat navs these days, so there is a plentiful supply to repurpose.
  4. Finally, road maps are often printed on high-quality paper and in large sheets. Making them perfect for so many paper crafts, including bead making.
old road maps for crafting

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What You Need

What you need to make map paper beads

How To Make Map Paper Beads

The shape of handmade beads is determined by the cut of the paper strips. To make more rounded beads the paper is cut into long triangle-shaped strips. For this tutorial, I made simple cylindrical paper beads.

Step 1: Once you have chosen the road map, cut it into strips. I used a rotary cutter and mat for this. I cut 20 strips of paper, each 2.5cm (1″) wide and 30cm (12″) long.

Cutting old maps into strips to make paper beads

Step 2: Next, take one strip of map paper, then wrap it tightly around the knitting needle. The size of the knitting needle determines the size of the hole in the centre of the paper bead. I used a 4mm knitting needle to fit the 4mm eyelets.

Secure the end of the paper strip with high tack glue.

If you don’t have high tack glue, then you might need to clip the paper in place with a bulldog clip until the glue dries.

Wrapping map paper around a knitting needle

Step 3: Carry on making map paper cylinders, you will need about 20 paper beads for each bracelet. Then stick a 4mm coloured eyelet/grommet into each end of the bead.

Adding eyelets to map paper beads

Step 5: To give the paper beads a glossy finish, brush them with crystal clear lacquer. The quickest and less messy way to do this is to place the beads on a wooden skewer. Then rest the skewer over a tray. Use a brush to apply the lacquer.

Other varnishes can be used to coat the beads, such as Mod Podge.

Varnishing the paper beads

How To Make The Map Bracelet

Step 4: Next, measure the circumference of your wrist. Then lay out all the map paper beads and measure them. You want the strip of paper beads to be the same size as your wrist.

I have a medium-sized wrist and needed 20 map paper beads for my bracelet.

All the map paper beads for a bracelet
Elastic string to make map paper bead bracelet.

Step 5: Next, cut a length of elastic string about 1 meter long. Thread both ends of the string onto large-eyed needles. Using elastic string makes it easier to take the paper bead bracelet on and off.

Threaded elastic string to make a paper bead bracelet

Step 6: Then, take one of the map paper beads and secure it to a flat surface with some white tack. Then thread it with the elastic string. Make sure that the bead sits in the middle of the elastic.

Threading the first bead

Step 7: Next, thread the needle on the right-hand side through the bead to the left-hand side. Then, thread the needle on the left-hand side through the bead to the right. Then, pull the elastic string tight, so that the threaded beads butt up next to each other.

Threading paper beads
Threading paper beads to make bracelet

Step 8: Carry on adding the map paper beads one by one.

Making a map paper bead cuff

Step 9: After all the map paper beads have been added, thread the needles through the first bead again. This will turn the strip of beads into a cuff. Simply tie off the string and cut away any excess.

Tuck the string knot into the bead hole, for a neater look.

Making a map paper bead cuff.
How to make a map paper bead cuff

How To Make A Paper Bead Necklace

The same paper bead method can be used to make a cool map necklace. To make a necklace pendant, make four paper beads in decreasing sizes from 4cm to 1cm in width.

Then thread the beads together in the same way as with the map cuff above. But this time I use a nice coloured twine. The twine is part of the necklace and the threaded beads are a pendant.

Map paper bead necklace

Both the map bracelet and necklace would make a lovely gift, especially if you use a map somewhere special.

How to make paper bead bracelets

Road maps are great for upcycling into personalised map themed gift ideas. I’ve repurposed my old maps into beautiful map roses and even some cool faux map paper moths. Maps have also been sewn into fun heart treat bags and used to make cool map rock keychains.

I’ve even used my road maps to make some personalized map wall art including a pet portrait and map angel wings.

For more upcycled jewellery ideas, check out these, avocado pit button jewellery, denim bracelet and scarf necklace. The scarf necklace upcycle includes a tutorial for denim beads.

Yield: Map paper beads and then turns them into a bracelet /cuff.

How To Make Map Paper Bead Bracelets and Necklace

Map paper bead cuff

Upcycle your old road maps into paper beads to make a fun bracelet or even necklace. This handmade jewellery would make a lovely gift, especially if you use maps of special places.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 2 hours
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5

Materials

  • Old road map
  • High tack glue
  • Coloured eyelets grommets 4mm
  • Elastic string
  • Crystal clear lacquer

Tools

  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Knitting needle
  • 2 x darning/upholstery needles

Instructions

  1. Using a rotary cutter and mat, cut up the road map into strips approximately 2.5 cm wide. Cut enough strips to make 20 paper beads.
  2. Roll a strip of map paper around a 4mm knitting needle. Secure the end of the paper with glue. Make 20 of these paper rolls.
  3. Stick an eyelet/grommet into each end of the paper beads.
  4. Thread the paper beads onto wooden skewers over a tray. Brush them with a protective varnish, such as crystal clear varnish.
  5. When all the beads are dried make up the bracelet. Cut about 1-meter length of elastic string and thread a needle on each end of the string.
  6. Next, thread the first need into the middle of the string. Secure the bead to a flat surface with white tack.
  7. Then, add the next bead, by threading the right needle through the middle of the bead and the left need through to the right. Then, pull the elastic string tight so that the beads butt up next to each other. Threading the paper beads into a cuff
  8. Carry on until all the beads have been added. Then thread back through to the first bead to create a bracelet loop.
  9. Tie off the elastic string and cut away the excess. Hide the knot by poking it into the centre of a bead.
  10. To make a necklace pendant make four paper beads of decreasing length 4cm to 1 cm. Then secure these together in the same way as the paper bead bracelet. However, this time make the excess twine part of the necklace.

kristie

Saturday 14th of May 2022

Very nice! I like the necklace too.

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 15th of May 2022

Thank you so much. You could even make matching earrings with them too.

Pam

Thursday 12th of May 2022

This is a beautiful project. I've seen paper beads before, but I've not seen these with the eyelets. Love it! I'll be featuring it today at the TFT party. Thanks for sharing with us!

Claire Armstrong

Thursday 12th of May 2022

Thank you so much, I look forward to seeing the feature.

Beth

Monday 9th of May 2022

Awesome tutorial, Claire! We will be featuring you this week on the Creative Crafts Linky Party starting on Wednesday! Have a great week! Creatively, Beth

Claire Armstrong

Monday 9th of May 2022

That's awesome, I look forward to seeing it.

creativejewishmom/sara

Thursday 5th of May 2022

Wonderful! Great to see you on craft schooling sunday, thanks for sharing, and love the embroidered wall art too!

Claire Armstrong

Friday 6th of May 2022

Thank you, Sara. Thanks for hosting.

Marie B.

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

This looks like the perfect craft to do with my grandson. He's big into handmade keychains to hang from his backpack so perhaps we can convert map beads like this into a keychain instead.

Claire Armstrong

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

That sounds like a lovely idea and a fun thing to do with your grandson.

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