Make Paper Worry Beads and Origami Stars

image of star-shaped paper worry beads looped on string

For Mental Health Month, here is a feel-good craft that makes a great gift. It is a combination of Greek worry beads (the OG fidget toy) and origami wish/lucky stars. Worry beads are used by pushing one bead at a time down the empty string, flipping the beads around, and generally just fiddling with the strand. Some people will hope or pray for something on each bead. If you fold 100 origami stars and give them to a friend that lucky person will get a wish and you will get some luck too for the generous act.


image of supplies needed to make paper origami worry beads including a pdf printout, glue stick, string and thread, and scissors
  • Print out the artwork PDF. The strand in the photo uses two printouts.
  • Embroidery thread or twine of a similar thickness
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery needle


  1. Cut between the colored stripes of your print out to get 17 paper strips. My example uses double the amount, but you could make a short strand. Worry beads are meant to go in your pocket and don’t need to fit over your head.
  2. Forget that you normally “fold” and “crease” origami. You want to keep these stars puffy, and any creases will make them harder to inflate.
  3. Set aside one strip of paper to make the bead. Make the stars. Start at one end of a paper strip and tie a knot. Then, wiggle the ends around so you have a pentagon with five even sides. Try not to crease the folds too much. In my example I started with the light end on half the strips and the dark end on the other half.
  4. Fold the short end back. Keeping some tension on the long end, begin wrapping it around the pentagon. It will naturally want to align with one edge of the pentagon. Keep the tension on the tail end and wrap around and around the pentagon making sure the outside edge of the strip is neatly aligned with an outside edge of the pentagon.image of a hand holding a paper strip, showing how to fold a small star
  5. Tuck the last bit of tail underneath the previous wrap, pull it tight, and trim the end.
  6. To inflate the star, press with your thumbnail into the center of one side of the pentagon. Rotate to the next side and repeat, pinching the point of the star.
  7. Thread the needle with at least 36 inches of twine for a double batch of stars. Poke the needle through the inverted center between two points and out the point. String all the stars except for two. Even up the ends of the string tails. Leave about an inch of string bare, put the two string tails together and tie an overhand knot.image of a pile of colorful paper stars getting strung together with needle and thread
  8. Make the charm. String one star with the point side touching the knot. Rethread the needle with the other string tail and go through the same hole so the star is threaded with both strings. Tie a knot. Coil the remaining strip of paper, adding glue to the back at points, to make a bead. Thread it under the star. Then, thread the last star upside-down under the bead. Cut out a charm, keeping the hinge attached. Glue and trim the string ends sandwiched inside the charm.image showing how to roll a paper bead and attach it to a string fo worry beads
image of star-shaped paper worry beads looped on string

Cleo Papanikolas is a painter, author, and educator. Her daily practice classes on Creativebug are Painting Repeat Patterns By Hand: A Daily Practice and Learn to Paint with Gouache: A Daily Practice in Questions and Answers . You can find more of her printable crafts on her website, and while you are there, take a look at her Patreon scarf club.