Living in New Orleans for four years, I collected a lot of Mardi Gras beads, but when I moved back to Minnesota I only brought a small box back with me. I saved the ones that were rare or special (parade medallions, extra long or large beads, unusual shapes), and gave the rest away. Luckily I had a friend who was riding in a parade my senior year, and float riders always need beads!
Reusing beads as parade throws is great, but if you're planning to throw a party, why not recycle some of those beads to make these coasters! Great for Mardi Gras or any other holiday (use red, pink, and white for Valentine's Day...green and gold for St. Patrick's Day...red, white, and blue for the 4th of July). So round up some beads and laissez les bon temps roulez!
Mardi Gras beads
felt (cut into 3-4 inch circles)
Lay your beads out before cutting to measure them. Beads that are 24 inches long are the perfect size for making 4 inch coasters like the white one in the picture above. A 16 inch string of beads will make a 3 inch coaster. The smaller ones are fine for soda cans and plastic cups, but the 4 inch coasters are best for larger, more fragile glasses.
1. Find the point where the string of beads is joined together - usually two beads melted and mashed together to make one. Cut this deformed bead off the string.
2. If your string of beads has a small medallion attached, use a pair of pliers to remove the medallion and reattach near the end of the string.
3. Cut a felt circle for each coaster and add a drop of glue in the middle.
4. Wrap the beads around the circle adding glue as you go.
5. Continue until you run out of beads; then lay on a flat surface and allow to dry overnight.
6. Once the glue is dry, add a few stitches to secure the beads to the felt backing. This step is optional, but it will prevent the beads from being pulled off accidentally, especially if you add a stitch at the beginning and end of the string of beads.
7. Trim the felt backing, if necessary, and your coasters are done!
If you live in New Orleans and would like to recycle/donate your beads, ARC (www.arcgno.org) has four drop-off locations:
925 S. Labarre Rd. - Metairie
5700 Loyola Avenue - Downtown
333 Sala Avenue - Westwego
3406 Hessmer Avenue - Metairie
ARC packages and sells the donated beads and other throws. If you are riding on a Mardi Gras float, consider purchasing some of your throws from ARC! For purchasing information or more recycling information call 504-837-5105.