What’s there not to love about paper beads? They are low-budget, a comfortable weight, eco-friendly, and highly customizable.
You get the freedom to personalize them into something spectacular by playing around with shapes, colors, patterns, and sizes.
But we all know paper to be flimsy, especially when wet. Unfinished paper beads easily get limp, lose their adhesion and form, and can unravel or even tear when introduced to water.
That’s not the fate you would wish for your little handmade cuties. Unless, of course, you are making temporary crafts with young kids and want to keep things basic.
To create durable jewelry out of your paper beads; pieces that are wearable in all conditions, you need to make them waterproof.
How do you make paper beads waterproof? You can make paper beads waterproof by sealing them. A sealant acts as a protective barrier that prevents water, body oils, sweat, and dirt from ruining your paper beads. It also adds to their attractive appeal and boosts structural strength.
If you are unsure about making your paper beads waterproof, this post is a great source of help. We provide an easy to follow guide on how to do it, plus tons of other invaluable tips.
Let’s get started!
What Do You Use To Make Beads Waterproof?
To make paper beads waterproof, you will need a sealant of some sort. You can get away with different kinds of materials, including glazes, finishes, varnishes, Mod Podge, or even some types of wood hardeners!
The Best Sealants and Finishes for Paper Beads
The product you use depends on your personal preferences and the kind of finish you desire. Here are some of our favorite products with a variety of uses. Each of these should work great for your paper beads (and still come in handy for your next project):
1. PC Petrifier Wood Hardener
PC Petrifier is among the best waterproof sealers for paper beads. We know it is labeled as wood hardener, but if you are looking for the ultimate water resistance, it works wonders on paper beads. The hardness of the coat and protection it offers is unmatched.
2. Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish
Another clear, solid-drying protective formula is Minwax Polycrylic. The water-based polyurethane forms a thick water-tight coat that dries quickly and offers your paper beads superior protection against wetness.
3. Deco Art Americana Triple Thick Gloss Glaze
You might also consider Triple Thick glaze. It forms a tough waterproof shell once fully cured, and unlike the PC Petrifier that dries matte, it has a high gloss option if that’s your desired finish.
4. Judikins Diamond Glaze
The diamond glaze is another favorite among avid crafters for its high shine, lightweight consistency, and rapid drying time. The adhesive-cum-glaze is a perfect sealant for paper beads both as a base and final coat. It seals in the ridges and locks out everything else, including moisture.
5. Mod Podge Gloss
Mod Podge is an excellent decoupage glue and sealant for this kind of craft. You’ll need to build up a couple of layers though, for guaranteed protection.
Home Alternative: Nail Polish
Do you have some nail polish lying around the house? That could work too, as the enamel coating is waterproof.
It is an alternative for anyone looking to completely transform the beads’ color and even add a hint of glitter in addition to sealing them. However, the film won’t last much longer than it does on your fingernails and is therefore not a permanent solution.
Other Materials Needed
Other materials needed are a bead handler and a drying station that suspends the beads in the air to dry untouched.
Luckily, this is stuff you probably already own if you’re used to making your own beads, but if you don’t, your creative juices can help you find whatever you have that works as a substitute.
How To Make Paper Beads Waterproof – Step By Step Guide
There are myriad ways to make your beads waterproof, but we shall focus on the three simplest, most effective methods.
Method 1: Brush-on Method
You can protect your paper beads easily by applying the protective material on your beads with a brush.
This is a pretty simple and straightforward method. However, it can begin to feel tedious when doing an endless number of paper beads. It is ideal for a small bunch of beads, but if you intend to churn waterproof paper beads en mass, you might want to look at the next two methods.
Here is what you’ll need:
- Sealant of choice
- Styrofoam block
- Soft bristle paintbrush
- Petri dish or bowl
Now let’s get on to the magic. Here’s how to make your beads waterproof by brushing on the sealant:
- Insert a toothpick through the bead hole. Now you have a “handle” with a beaded end. If the diameter of the center is too large for the toothpick allowing the bead to roll around it, you can opt for something thicker like a bamboo skewer or even knitting needles. Do this for each bead.
- Pour a small amount of sealant into a separate dish. Mix it with water if recommended to get a workable consistency.
- Take one bead at a time by the handle with one hand. Using your other hand, pick the paintbrush, dip it in the sealant and apply a thin coat around the bead until every inch of it is covered.
- Try to pay particular attention to the edges such that the sealant doesn’t end up on the toothpick or skewer and stick the bead to it.
- Once satisfied with the coverage, stick the pointy end of the toothpick into the styrofoam block. Allow the bead to dry.*
- Repeat steps 3 through 5 for the second and third coats, leaving enough drying time between them.
And voila! Your paper beads are waterproof.
*Pro Tip: You can use a piece of the packaging foam from your old electronic boxes. Some crafters also utilize a colander.
Method 2: Dip-in Method
If brushing the sealant on isn’t easy enough, you can always dip your beads straight into it.
Gather your materials:
- Sealant of choice
- Fishing line
- Jar or deep bowl
- Shoebox (or any average-sized box)
- Pegs or clips
Here’s how to protect your beads by dipping them in your protective coating:
- Using a craft knife, make corresponding slits about an inch or two deep on the shorter sides of the box.
- Measure and cut a piece of the fishing line the length of your shoe box plus a few inches extra.*
- String your paper beads and secure/tie a knot at one end so the beads won’t fall out.
- Pour the sealant in a jar or deep bowl.
- Let down the string of beads gently into the jar until they are fully immersed.
- Swirl the string around a bit just to make sure the sealant covers the bead completely.
- Remove after a while, dragging the string of beads slowly against the edge of the jar or your cupped fingers. This will help catch the excess sealant liquid and keep it in the jar.
- It is time to hang the beads. Hold the string vertically, secure that top end using a binder clip. Turn string horizontally and insert the clipped end of the line in one of the slots such that the clip provides anchorage.
- Insert the opposite end to the corresponding slot on the other side of the box and secure with a clip.
Do the same for the next batch of beads until done. Once dry, repeat the procedure for a second and third coat, ensuring complete dryness between coats.
Once fully dry, your beads are now waterproof. You can release them, separate any that appear stuck together and sand any rough edges.
*Pro Tip: A fishing line is the best choice for this project because it doesn’t glue to the paper beads with sealants. They’ll slide right off when dry.
Method 3: Spray-On Method
If your sealant comes in a spray, you can still apply it quite easily to your beads. Though this is probably intuitive, we’ll walk you through the steps just in case.
What you will need:
- Spray sealant
- Styrofoam block
To spray on your sealant, just follow these super easy steps and tips:
- Insert all the beads into toothpicks or skewers for larger beads.
- Secure the sharp ends firmly into the styrofoam block.
- Take the block outside and spray the beads from various angles while maintaining a good distance. Please avoid spot spraying to prevent drips.
- Allow drying time, then spray a second coat and a third or fourth.
Make sure you are spraying outside or in a designated craft area so any extra spray or splatter doesn’t hit anything important!
How Do You Make Paper Beads Look Like Glass?
Glazing your paper beads gives them a reflective glass-like appearance. And the best part is: most glazes double up as sealants. They do both the job of making your paper beads waterproof and also looking glassy.
But not all glazes meet your exact expectations. Highly dimensional glazes like Judikins Diamond Glaze and high gloss urethanes have the potential to mimic a glassy appearance with a couple of coats.
Still, UV resin beats them with a landslide. It is a cut above the rest and yields the most outstanding real glass looking results.
How to Make Paper Beads Look Like Glass
To make your beads look like glass using a UV resin, you’ll need the following materials:
- DecorRom UV Resin (premixed and ready to use)
- UV torch or light
- Small paintbrush
Follow these steps to make your paper beads look like glass using UV resin:
- Insert your bead into the skewer and hold the handle with the non-dominant hand.
- On the other hand, squeeze a dollop of UV resin onto the paper bead and spread it around using the paintbrush.
- Once fully covered, put the brush aside and pick your UV torch. Turn it on and focus the beam of light on the paper bead.
- Turn the skewer around so every part of the paper bead gets the light. Do this for about 2 minutes and put aside to dry.
- Repeat the procedure with the remaining beads and enjoy rocking the marvelous glassy paper beads.
Note: UV resin soaks into paper except for the gloss surfaced type. Therefore, you may want to seal your paper beads with a base coat using Diamond Glaze or Mod Podge first.
If doing massive rolls of paper beads, shining light on individual pieces is almost impractical and will wear you out quickly. The good news is, this product cures with direct sunlight as well, so that’s another option.
Making your paper beads waterproof does not warrant showering or splashing at the pool while donning jewelry created out of them. It just means an accidental dunk in water while cleaning or getting rained on should not be a big deal. They’ll hold up beautifully.