How to Customize Wooden Beads with Paint, Stain, and Dye

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to the first post of the Lined Drawstring Bag Sew Along! I'm excited to kick this off by sharing a few different ways to customize wooden beads to use on your drawstring bags! I'll be updating the Sew Along Page each week with all the posts so that you can easily catch up or reference these posts after the sew along ends!

I hope you'll sew along with us! Sew from the tutorial or the patterns:
Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorial
Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern
Lined Drawstring Bag Expansion Pattern

The wooden beads I used in this post are the same ones that I carry in my online shop. Of course you can use any unfinished wooden beads! The methods and tips I'll be sharing in this post are things that have worked well for me when customizing my beads. Please feel free to experiment and play around with different methods to acheive a look that appeals to you!

Shop for beads: Round Wooden Beads

In the process of preparing for this post, I experimented with four different methods for finishing wooden beads. You can of course use them as is! They will develop a nice natural patina over time if left unfinished. I'll be sharing my tips for using acrylic paint, dye, stain and clear finish on the beads.

Before You Start

You'll want to start by prepping your work surface. I used kraft paper to protect my table, but you could also use an old tablecloth or lay down some plastic. I found the easiest way to dry the beads for all four techniques was with some recycled materials. I repurposed some wooden chopsticks from takeout (skewers would work well too!), a piece of styrofoam and some masking tape. I'll show you my set-up:

Cut a piece of tape around 4-5" long. Stick one end to the chopstick.

Twist it up a bit so that it has some volume and wrap it around the stick. Slide the bead over the tape.

You'll want the tape to be around the size of the hole on your bead.

Now you can stick the chopstick into the styrofoam! This allows you to paint/dye/stain all sides of the bead without it getting stuck to your work surface while it dries.

Your beads could probably benefit from a light sanding before customizing them. I used 320 grit sandpaper on mine, but anything above 220 grit would be fine. I didn't spend more than 10-15 seconds per bead. Wipe beads clean before continuing.

Painting Wooden Beads

- Round Wooden Beads
- Paint (I used acrylic craft paint)
- Paint brushes

This customization was the most time consuming because for my beads I did multiple colors per bead. You could keep things simple and just use a single color! I painted two thin layers on each bead in one color. Then I painted a second color on top using a few different designs: simple stripes, dots (stamped on with the end of a chopstick), and splotches made with a paint brush. After completely dry, seal with a clear finish of your choice.

Dyeing Wooden Beads

- Round Wooden Beads
- Rit Liquid Dye
- Small plastic containers
- Plastic spoon
- Rag or paper towel

In a small container, mix 1/2 Tablespoon of liquid dye with 1/2 cup of hot water. Add beads to the dye mixture, they will float. Careful flip beads periodically to ensure that both sides dye evenly. Let beads sit in dye for 15-20 minutes. Remove and let dry completely. They'll lighten in color as they dry. Repeat as necessary to acheive desired color. (I did two dips in dye for my beads!). After completely dry, seal with a clear finish of your choice.

Rit has a dedicated post on using their dyes to dye wood and wicker. You can find it here.

Staining Wooden Beads

- Round Wooden Beads
- Wood Stain
- Rag
- Foam brush (optional)

Apply wood stain to beads with a foam brush or clean rag. Leave stain on for several minutes, then wipe away excess stain with a rag. Let dry competely. Repeat as necessary to acheive desired color. After completely dry, seal with a clear finish of your choice.

Sealing Wooden Beads

- Round Wooden Beads
- Clear finish of your choice (I used Shellac)
- Small brush or rag

I recommend applying a clear finish to any beads that you customize with paint, dye or stain to lock in your hardwork. Or apply clear finish to the plain beads! It is a great way to add a little shine to them. The finish you choose will have different application instructions, be sure to follow them for wood. Personally, I prefer Shellac because it dries quickly and applies easily. You could also use a spray-on finish. Be careful with water-based finishes because it may smear your paint job!

I hope this post is helpful and has given you some ideas for customizing your bags with beads! I can't wait to see the bags you make! Please share them with me on instagram @jenib320 + #lineddrawstringbag or via email (jenib320 @

Happy Sewing!


  1. What a fun idea!! Can't wait to try it.

  2. What a great post Jeni. Thanks ever so much.

  3. Your painted beads are lovely - you must have lots of patience!

  4. Neat Ideas with Beads! Like the natural ones, go with all projects! Thanks for your HINTS ! 👩‍🎨

  5. Have some very pink beads that were given to me. Can i redye them black? How should I do this?

    1. If they don't have a finish on them, you should be able to redye them. I'd follow the same steps as I share in this tutorial.

  6. Is it possible to dye finished wooden beads? I bought some that were all blond, but I'd like to add some color.

    1. I am guessing the finish will prevent the dye from penetrating the wood, but you could try! You could also try sanding away the finish before trying to dye them.

  7. If your after like a matte finish after using the coloured dye, what finish coat would you recommend using to seal?

  8. Most big-box hardware stores carry clear finishes that are matte, that's what I would use!

    1. do you recommend any ?

    2. My favorite clear finish is Shellac, but it's not matte. Otherwise I've used minwax polycrylic, which I believe does come in matte.


Thanks for keeping this blog a positive place, I appreciate the time you are taking to leave a comment! I will answer any questions here in the comments section.

All comments are moderated to filter out spam. Your comment will appear after it has been approved.