Clear Coating Paper Beads

One of the first necklace and earring sets I made for myself with paper beads had become a little bit sticky. The coating on the outside of the beads had worn off some and had been handled by a few sticky fingers. I decided it was time to freshen them up a bit.

Sometimes if the beads are not yet used in finished pieces, I will have my husband spray a clear coat of paint on the beads to give them a smooth finish. I don’t necessarily use a gloss spray but just something to protect and seal them a bit more. However, some beads are used they way they come to me from Africa, and in time may need a little attention. Or they may already be in finished pieces, like mine, and spraying them isn’t an option (I didn’t want to get clear paint on the metal parts so that it would stick together, chip apart and possibly get discolored). Taking the time to tape off the metal components would take way too much effort and leave behind a sticky tape residue.

So, here’s what I did and I’m pretty happy with the results:

I wiped them off gently with a damp cloth (I used my Norwex microfiber cloth but any soft, damp cloth will do). After they dried overnight, it was time to give them a clear coat.

Paper beads before coating – wiped off and dried overnight – they don’t look too bad but to the touch they were a bit tacky

Then I used clear nail polish to liberally brush on the beads. Carefully I covered only part of the necklace and let it hang and dry well. Then I came back the next day and did some more. I didn’t want to do only half of each bead and try to lay it down on waxed paper just right so it didn’t stick or make marks in the finish. I also didn’t want to do too many beads at a time and have them get stuck together as I was trying to brush more of them. So, I did it in 3 sittings. The end result is awesome!

Earrings after they were coated with clear nail polish and dried overnight – now they’re shiny and smooth

They do have a super shiny gloss to them now, so that may be a consideration to you if you’re thinking about doing this and would prefer a matte finish, but they feel so smooth and look great. It’s a great way to use up a half full bottle of clear nail polish that’s getting just a little too sticky to use effectively on your nails. I applied it fairly thick and then just walked away. I even tried dumping a small amount out onto a small paper plate because it was getting difficult to tip the bottle and hold the bead at the same time. I found that pouring out too much at a time can get tacky in a hurry and difficult to use but in small batches it works nicely. My brush also got tacky after awhile and that was my cue to stop for now and do more later. The brush softened up again once back in the closed bottle overnight.

I have not tested this in the long run so don’t know if the nail polish would eventually yellow some on lighter colored beads. If you have any other comments or suggestions I’d love to hear them.

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4 Responses to Clear Coating Paper Beads

  1. kenneth says:

    Try using super gloss Mod Podge as your top coat. It makes your bead harder, it drys faster. And less oder.

  2. Nancy says:

    I used the MP when I first started, but then found the finished products sticking en mass, it was awful trying to separate them. Then realized that when the rainy season came upon us in Florida was what caused the stickiness. Called the company and they agreed that was what it was. I also tried the magic dimensional MP and the same thing happened. So now have been trying Americana’s polyurethane varnish gloss, but boy does that leave a layer wherever it touches on your hand, so am pealing but a double coat looks pretty good.

  3. Kathy says:

    I am having a ‘sticky’ situation too, just finished all my jewellery pieces for a craft fair and find that when worn on warm skin my beads are becoming stickyish and loosing its shine, Im scared if I sell them so that they are going to be yucky and people will not buy from me again. I dont know what to do as the fair is tomorrow and another is next week. Im using a german brand which is called Marabu aqua clear gloss. Do other varnishes do the same!!! anyone else had this problem!!!???? feeling very desperate and scared that all my work has been for nothing

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