Paper mache is one of the most forgiving materials to work with, and these easy beads make great crafts for children. Because paper mache is only newspaper dipped in a flour and water paste, it's completely non-toxic and safe for even the youngest members of the family.
To make these paper mache beads, you'll need flour, water, newspaper torn into strips, thin wires (unbent jumbo paper clips work excellently for this) and non-toxic paint if you wish to paint your beads. If you prefer to dye the beads, adding a few drops of food coloring to the flour-water paste works very well.
To make your paper mache, put one cup of flour into a large mixing bowl. Add water until it reaches the consistency of thick soup; not too pasty, not too runny. Mix well to remove any lumps of flour, and voila; your paste is finished.
Each bead will require one wire, so be sure to have plenty on hand. Dip a newspaper strip into the paper mache paste, and run it lightly between your fingers as you lift it out, to gently remove the excess paste. (Expect to get your hands very messy doing this; kids love it for a reason.) Wrap the newspaper around the wire in a ball, to form a round bead, or a long oval shape, to form a bugle bead. Add other strips directly on top of that one, until the bead reaches the desired size. Set it aside onto a sheet of wax paper.
Now comes the hard part; the bead will need to dry for 24 to 48 hours, longer if you live in a humid climate, to completely remove all the moisture from the paste. Large beads may take even longer to dry.
Once the bead is dry, the wire should slip right out, leaving you with a hole to thread the bead. If you chose to paint the bead, you can paint it either before you slip the wire out, or after. However, the bead must be completely dry, or the paint will lock the moisture in, and the bead will mold.
These beads can then be strung together to make fun necklaces and bracelets. They make a great project for a rainy Saturday afternoon.