DIYdiy projects

DIY Project: Paper Mardi Gras Beads

by Maxwell Tielman

For those who don’t live in New Orleans, the Tuesday preceding Lent is often a relatively uneventful occasion. While our Louisianan neighbors use the day as an opportunity for riotous celebration and pre-Lenten indulgence, Mardi Gras — a holiday that dates back to the seventeenth century — can sometimes go unnoticed by the rest of the world. Still, there are some who love any excuse to celebrate, and Mardi Gras, with its ornate masks and token bright colors, can provide all the razzle-dazzle one needs to shake up the midwinter monotony. These beads, which match the green-purple-gold color scheme of the holiday, are an excellent way to show your Mardi Gras love (they’re also infinitely more attractive than the typical plastic fare strewn from parade floats on the big day). Better yet, they’re unbelievably quick and easy to make! For complete directions, continue after the jump! — Max

Above image: We used decorative papers from Paper Source and Kate’s Paperie in green, purple and gold, the traditional colors of New Orleans Mardi Gras.


  • decorative papers in green, purple and gold
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • wooden skewer
  • upholstery needle
  • twine or string



1. Cut your decorative paper into long, thin triangles (pictured above). Determine the length based on how thick you want your beads to be. Ours were roughly eight inches long.

2. Glue the first few inches of one triangle’s tip with a glue stick.

3. Wrap the triangle, starting at its base, tightly around a wooden skewer. Secure your rolled paper in place by pressing the glued end tightly to the rest of the roll. Carefully slide the rolled bead off your skewer.

4. Repeat steps 1–4 as many times as needed to create several strands of beads.

5. String your beads together with an upholstery needle and string. Be sure to leave enough string on either end of your bead strands to be able to tie it around your neck.

6. That’s it! Now go get your Mardi Gras on!

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  • Could you finish these with a spray sealer to make them more durable?
    These are beautiful, and I look forward to making some! I have seen them but never knew how they were made – thanks for the tutorial!

  • Old wallpaper books are great source for the bead paper. It’s a little heavier which makes a sturdier bead.

  • Susan – if you paint a thin layer of modpodge or watered down Elmers on the paper as you roll they will be more durable. I would then use a spray sealer after they are dry – they will last forever!

  • These are lovely they remind me of http://www.31bits.com. If you don’t have time to make them yourself or want a sealed version that will last forever, definitely check them out. Their stuff is made by ugandan women, and a lot of the proceeds go back to Uganda. I have one that’s off white with gold edges.

  • These are gorgeous. I made some (that didn’t come as quite as well) the other day but they were definitely easy. I need to get my hands on some of those papers!

  • These are beautiful, and not too difficult to make it seems! Mardi Gras is not forgotten here in France, where mostly school children, up through high school, dress up and celebrate. In grade school, they parade through the streets with Monsieur Carnavale, who gets set on fire upon their return to the school courtyard. Afterwards, lots of crepes and doughnuts are eaten.

  • Oh for sure kids can do this! Have them decorate their own paper and maybe use glitter for extra fun! :-) You can also make them out of fabric. Use a little modpodge or watery glue to make them stiffer (after they dry) if you have trouble rolling them. They can be beautiful and fun!

  • Used to make these in high school! I think I still have a few remaining!
    These are gorgeous by the way.