Honestly, this was a little project for me – I have wanted to try this since I first found out about paper beads a few years ago. I was not sure that M would be at all interested, especially since the process includes the possibility of glue touching your fingers (oh the horror!). But, as it turns out, he LOVES to make paper beads and happily kept at it long after I was finished.
I picked a few pretty pictures and cut them into long triangular strips. I did not measure these in any way, just eyed them and cut. The main thing to keep in mind here is that the broad end will be the width of your finished bead, so keep it fairly small. You could also cut (or tear, for a bit of texture) simple straight strips. The triangular strips allow you to see colors from the whole piece in the finished bead, though, so we chose to do it this way.
Once these were dry, I did take them outside and spray a finish on them, just because I happened to have some. But M continued to make beads, and I did not spray them all (it was way too cold to go out and do it more than once!). I don’t think we can tell the difference between the finished ones and the unfinished. If you want to seal them and don’t have a spray finish, you could simply brush another coat of glue on the finished beads.