Art Project: African Magazine Beads

The book can inspire a host of art projects, from making African style masks to musical instruments to beads. The children in Jumping Jenny contributed to the fundraising fair in all different ways. One of the fun things that they did was make beaded jewelry. Uganda has a tradition of making beautiful beads out of magazines called Mzuri beads. These are fun to make with your children and with some advanced planning, you can even control the color schemes of the paper you use. It is also a great way to recycle your old magazines. Depending on the amount of time you have, and the age of your children, you might want to prepare some of the magazine strips in advance.

Materials Checklist:

  • old magazines and catalogs
  • glue
  • cup
  • paint brush
  • juice box straw or coffee stirrer
  • string
  • varnish (optional)

1. Cut triangles from your paper approximately 2 inches or less across the bottom and about 10 inches tall. Each triangle will make one bead.  Twenty beads will make a necklace, but it really depends on how long you want your necklace to be. Cut as many as you need. Depending on the age of your children, you might want to pre-cut the strips. If you pay attention to the colors on the page you are using, you can somewhat control the color of the beads.

2. Place the triangle wrong side up (the side that you don’t want to show) on the table. Lay the straw along the wide end of the triangle.

3. Tightly roll the strip around the straw twice, starting with the widest side.

4. Put glue on the remainder of your triangular strip and continue to roll the paper evenly, until you reach the pointy end of the triangle.

5. To finish the bead, glue down the narrow end and hold it in place until the glue sets.

5. Slip bead off of the straw and let it dry for about an hour. You can continue to make as many beads as you like, by following steps 2-5.

6. String the beads on heavy thread, a shoe lace or wool. Remember to ties a knot at each end so the beads don’t slip off.  Then tie the ends together and you’ve got a necklace.

7. If you want the beads to look shiny, you can use a non-toxic varnish.Follow the instructions on the bottle to allow enough time to dry.

This website site had a video tutorial that shows how to make the beads a well as a store for buying the real thing from There is also this. which outlines a program for raising money with Uganda beads

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