Up Cycling Plastic Bags into Colorful Beads

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Plastic: It Changed Our World


Whenever I talk to anyone about being green, our environment, our health and that of Mother Earth, I first gauge how old that person might be. Fifty plus, and I know they’ll most likely know what I’m talking about, when I ask if they  remember that scene in The Graduate - 1967, where Mr. Maguire approaches Dustin Hoffman’s character – Ben Braddock at Ben’s college graduation party and offers him some advice…? Remember what he says to Ben standing outside near the pool?  Mr. Maguire says, “One word, are you listening? … Plastics … there’s a great future in plastics.”

Mr. Maguire was correct. The plastic production pendulum was already making it’s lopsided move one way.  And it stayed there, year after year, decade after decade until now, when we’re all starting to realize what a huge mess we’ve all made. We’re all guilty … even Green Divas are guilty of keeping the pendulum firmly off to one one side. There’s a great documentary out there called,  Addicted to Plastic. It is so, SO worth watching because YOU WILL BE AMAZED at just how much plastic enters and exits our lives EVERY DAY!

I will argue, some things made of plastic has improved our quality of life; plastics in hospitals and medical care, plastic bags holding saline solutions for breast augmentations (yes, for some folks, this counts), the right type of plastic protects our food, helps build better – more insulated homes, cars, cameras, computers and SO much more stuff — and it’s disposable — and that, folks is the flip side of the argument. Too many disposable things are made out of plastic. We simply use and throw away too much!

Seems Mr. Maguire was right … or was he?

What to do, what to do with the plastic coming into my house? Hmm? Those ubiquitous Chinese food containers are washed and re-used to send left overs home with Mom or party guests. When I entertain, I cook a lot.  There are plenty of leftovers; what I don’t freeze walks out the door. If it’s plastic and not re-used, it’s recycled.

Up Cycling Plastic Bags into Colorful DIY Beads

Colorful_Fused_BeadsSome of you may know, I love beading; making earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, wine glass charms, and so much more … and my favorite thing to do when creating something, is re-using bit’s and pieces of old jewelry, buttons and other doo-dads I’ve collected. Which making beads out of plastic bags such a perfect fit.

Heres what you’ll need:

  • Clean plastic bags
  • Parchment paper
  • Iron — I have an old one I kept just for my craftprojects
  • A strong crafting glue like E60005
  • Toothpicks or something simliar
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

Here’s how:

1. Fuse the Plastic

Place two layers of your plastic bag – I chose purple. Why, do you ask? Because it’s Green Diva Meg’s favorite color! I also used light blue plastic and I tried fusing bubble wrap AND fusing a piece of tissue paper in between 2 sheets of clear plastic. Place the plastic between the parchment paper. Better to do this on a hard surface as your ironing board might have too much “give.” With your iron set at low-medium and the stream setting off, run the iron over the parchment paper.

ironing plastic to make colorful beads illustration of fused plastic bags v. not fused plastic bags


fused bubble wrap to make colorful beads making colorful colorful beads using plastic bags and tissue paperI actually like the way the tissue paper fused in between two sheets of clear plastic turned out.

2. Rolling the beads

  • Cut long triangles out of the fused plastic. You can get creative with the size of the bead … the wider the triangle, the longer you bead will be. I’m partial to the shorter, fatter beads. I cut several triangles at a 1/2″ wide at the base, some at 3/4″ wide and others at 1″ wide. All are bout 4″ long. The longer the triangle the stouter the bead.

Fused Beads 4

  • Cut out a triangular shape that is about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide at the bottom. You can play around with the sizing. The wider the triangle, the longer the bead and the longer the triangle, the fatter the bead.
  • Apply a small amount of glue up one side of the triangle, starting about 1/4′ from the base. Do not put glue at the along the bottom. Roll the bead onto the the toothpick, wide end first. and Extra dab of glue at the tip will secure the whole thing. Stick your toothpicks into something firm. Yes, what you see there is a very ripe banana — Bananas Foster for dessert tonight! Let the glue dry thoroughly. Tah-dah! Beads. Even the tissue paper fused beads worked.
  • I sprayed a layer of clear acrylic laquer on each bead, just to give it a little more luster. It also makes them feel a little stronger.
  • As a “beader,” I know there are a ton of projects out there which you can make with your newly rolled, re-purposed plastic bag beads.
  • Here’s a thought — If you are making beads for smaller hands, cut the plastic into triangle with wider bases to make them larger. The roll them onto a thicker dowel … a pencil, a chopstick or what have you works. Little hands need the bigger opening to successfully string beads.

colorful plastic beads made of up cycled plastic bags

About the author / 

Green Diva Mizar

Green Diva Mizar is a former co-host of the GD show. GD Mizar is also dedicated to providing safe, clean water to all through her company Pur2o Water Filtration & Purification.

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  1. orcus@live.co.uk'
    Orcus February 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm -  Reply

    places to buy beads

    Such a brilliant use for rubbish! Thanks for a super article.

  2. liketaralee@gmail.com'
    Tara February 19, 2014 at 5:10 pm -  Reply

    I am sooooo excited to try this out! I need beads and I hate the thought of plastic going into the landfill so this will be perfect!!!


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