How to Make African Beads

Written by jennifer lynn tavernier
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How to Make African Beads
Recycled paper beads (By schatzi9876 at

Jewellery is the one common item that everyone has treasured since the beginning of time. You can find it in every culture dating back thousands of years. The survival of many cultures has depended on the making, wearing and trading of beaded jewellery. Beads are created out of everything including stones, crystals and bone. These individual works of art are then turned into prized pieces of jewellery. In Uganda, women create beads out of recycled pages from discarded magazines and posters. This project will create a similar bead that can be made into bracelets, necklaces and to adorn clothing. You could even become an entrepreneur and start your own handmade "green" jewellery line.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Recycled magazine pages with any colour scheme or picture
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • 3.2mm x 7.5 inch long mandrel or any small dowel
  • Tacky glue
  • Lacquer with brush to apply or thick clear fingernail polish
  • Cord in any matching colour

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  1. 1

    Look for pages that are dominantly one colour or random prints and pictures. The whole page blends together when rolled and the pictures becomes part of the colour design.

  2. 2

    Use a ruler to draw triangles on the magazine page. They start out 3/4-inch wide at one end and then taper down. If you draw the triangles next to each other, alternating the wide side, you can fit many triangles on a single page, giving uniformly coloured beads.

  3. 3

    Cut out the triangle strips.

  4. 4

    Lay the mandrel on the wide end of a triangle. Fold the wide edge of the triangle over the mandrel and start a tight roll. Continue to the tapered end, keeping it tightly rolled. Apply a small dab of glue to secure the end. Let dry. Slide it off the mandrel. Continue making beads until the amount needed for your design have been made.

  5. 5

    String the beads onto a cord.

  6. 6

    Cover the beads with lacquer or fingernail polish to seal the paper and make it shiny. Apply more then one layer for a hard shiny seal and they will last longer.

Tips and warnings

  • This is a wonderful craft to teach to children about recycling and creating art. You can use different beads in between the paper beads for added sparkle. Posters also make great beads. Experiment with different sized triangle for many bead shapes.

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