Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sixth Make for Christmas - Cardboard Bead Tree Decorations

One of the things I love about St Helena is that because resources can be scarce, or you might have to wait a long time for them to arrive on the ship, people make do and mend a lot more than they do in the UK. They also look at waste, which cannot be recycled in the conventional way, as a resource and use it to make beautiful things. I was pootling around the Arts and Crafts Centre a few weeks ago looking at the cardboard bead necklaces, which I have talked about before here, and I thought rather lovely tree decorations could be made out of those same cardboard beads. They turned out even better than I had hoped. They make me grin stupidly because they are so pretty. I think they look like a cross between expensive glass baubles and exquisitely wrapped toffees. Not bad for something we would usually throw away.

Cardboard Bead Tree Decorations

Difficulty: Not difficult but a little fiddly.

You will need: cardboard packaging in Christmassy colours  (own brand teabag boxes and tissue boxes make great reds and greens, breakfast cereals come in lots of great colours. Also think about cereal bar and bread stick boxes), pencil, ruler, scissors, kebab skewers, pva glue, bent wire (a paper clip would probably do), 0.75-1cm wide ribbon.

Open out your chosen boxes so they are flat. For the big beads you need the full length of card you can get from a cereal box.

Mark 5cm intervals along each end and join up the marks to give you long thin triangles. Cut them out.

Use the side of the ruler or one of the skewers to soften the underside of the card in the same way as you pass curling ribbon over the edge of scissors. Be careful at the thin end as it is easy to pull the tip off in a heart-breaking moment. Pay particular attention to the wide end as it will make rolling the beads easier.

Roll each triangle around a skewer, starting with the wide end. Try to roll quite tightly.

Put glue along the last 10 - 15cm.  Continue rolling and hold tight for a couple of minutes so the glue can start to dry.

Leave on the skewers to dry completely. Depending how much glue you used this can take a few minutes or a couple of hours!

If you want to you can varnish the beads as you would for a necklace, but since it is very unlikely that your decorations will get caught in the rain this is not really necessary.

To make little beads use a smaller piece of card, an old birthday card or the back of a tissue packet is plenty.

Mark the ends at 1cm or 1.5cm intervals. Or a mixture as I have here.


and roll.

By pushing the bulge from the centre of the bead to one end you can make an oval, a tear drop or a cone.

Admire how pretty your beads look. (Once again, I cannot stress how important this step is.)

Choose ribbon in pretty colours that complement your beads.

Cut about 30cm for each decoration.

Bend a piece of wire to form a makeshift needle - if you use a real needle you can't get it off the ribbon at the end.

With the ribbon doubled so there is a loop at one end, thread three or four beads on in a combination that makes you grin stupidly because it is so pretty and so simple.

Remove the wire and: Ta da!

Make lots! Give them to your friends, sell them for charity, attach them to presents, or go wild and hang them on your tree.

I love love love them!

I gave all these away, to be sold to raise funds for the Arts and Crafts Centre, but I might just have to make some more because I love them so much!



  1. Wow, what a fab idea! Very innovative indeed and they look fab. Can't wait to see your tree - please post a pic :-)
    Have a lovely week,