DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads

DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West

It’s Mardi Gras! I’m coming to you today with a fun Fat Tuesday DIY — homemade Mardi Gras beads! This post might be a little late, but you can make them tonight and wear them tomorrow and pretend they were thrown to you during a parade, right? I won’t tell. Or perhaps you’re enjoying a snow day today? All the better.

A few years ago, I visited New Orleans with a group of friends and I learned it’s bad luck to pick up Mardi Gras beads off the ground. (That’s ironic, because that’s where they really seem to end up. Or in tree branches.) Technically, you’re supposed to earn your beads by catching them and it can become quite a game among friends. Catching them from a krewe’s parade is said to bring good luck for the coming year. And yes, perhaps sometimes there is a risque factor too.

DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West

Historically, the throwing of Mardi Gras beads stems from Rex, the king of the first daytime Carnival in 1872, who was also Russia’s Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff. He tossed beads in the royal colors to people who exhibited the beads’ meanings: purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. The beads were originally made of glass, so they were dangerous to be thrown, but now that we have plastic and manufacturing, the sparkly beads are ubiquitous. And they come in every color, shape, size and finish.

DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West

This homemade version is super fun and I love that each bead is unique. I first came across paper beads like this in South Africa (where my mother is from). Some African craftspeople make beads from others’ trashed magazines, newspapers and catalogues, and they are what inspired me to try making these paper Mardi Gras beads.

These beads would be a lovely gift or just a fun activity for a rainy — or even a snowy — crafternoon. Click through to learn how to make them! // susannah

Click below to learn how to make these fun Mardi Gras beads! 

DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West
Materials
Tools
DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West
Instructions
  1. Make the beads. Go through the magazines and pick out pages with the colors you want. Once you make the beads, you’ll primarily see the colors at the top and bottoms of the pages. The colors in the middle of the page don’t matter as much. Text will be distorted, so really just look for color. Pages with primarily one color will make the best beads. Tear or cut out any pages you like and set aside.
  2. Pick a page to begin with. Using a ruler and a pencil, mark every inch along the top of the page. Along the bottom of the page, mark every 1/2 inch. If using scissors or an X-acto blade, draw light lines with a pencil connecting the marks to make long, skinny triangles. Download the template here or click the image below.
  3. Next, line up the wide end of one of the paper strips with the wooden skewer and roll the paper around it very tightly between your fingers. Apply a spot of glue to the tip of the triangle and press it to the bead for around 10 seconds or until the tip stays glued down. Add another drop of glue if needed.
  4. Apply a layer of varnish such as Mod Podge and allow to dry. Slide the bead off the skewer. Repeat process until you have lots of beads.
  5. String the necklaces. Slide the beads onto the string until you reach your desired length. Mine were about 32 to 34 inches. Tie the ends of the string together and trim any tails.
  6. Note: Note that different shapes and lengths of paper will yield different sizes and shapes of beads. If you want your beads to be uniform, cut the paper into identical pieces. If you prefer irregular shapes, you can cut your triangles more freely.

DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads Template // Feast + WestDIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West

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Comments

  1. Kellie Clow says

    Your topics and articles are so wonderfully done! They are also uniquely you! I plan to do your craft ideas with my class. Mr. Clow will make your dirty cinnamon rolls too. Keep creating and blogging!

  2. Haley says

    I hopped over because I saw your chai cinnamon rolls on insta and wanted to eat them right off the screen…but then I kept scrolling down because these beads are SO gorgeous! Geez louise girl, your pictures are stunning!

  3. nyxrider says

    As a rider in a MG Krewe, I am looking for home made mardi gras throws, and your page showed up. So while I’m here : It is absolutely not true that picking up beads off the ground is bad luck, nor is it true catching beads is good luck. Many people are uninterested in beads, many others too lazy to pick up beads off the ground. But there is no luck associated with either.
    Your paper beads are lovely. Sadly, they wouldn’t have enough weight to them for me to throw from the float.

    • Susannah says

      Hey there, Thanks so much for the wisdom! Personally, I’m picky about what I pick up off the ground, but good to know it’s not unlucky outside of any germs you might get. 😉
      On their own, the paper beads are nice and light and do throw across the room, though! I just checked. You could absolutely wrap the paper around an existing bead and use a thicker strand, if you wanted some more weight but a homemade look.
      Hope that helps!

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