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Link to Me — Using Wire to Link Beads

by Dwyn Tomlinson


Learning to use wire in your creations opens up whole new fields of creativity. You can link together beads in new ways, combining them to suit your taste and style.

This project uses sterling wire and a wrapped loop to create linked elements as the basis for a necklace. The principle part of the design is at the front, and the rest of the necklace is made up of chain, so as not to overwhelm the wearer with large beads. A chain extender at the clasp makes the length flexible.

Skill Level. Intermediate or Intrepid Beginner. The wire wrapping skills are fairly forgiving. The only trick is to not forget to add the next segment or jumpring before wrapping the loop. ;-)

 

 

 

 

Supplies

  • 9 small (10 mm and under) lampwork spacers
  • 6 medium (15+ mm) handmade lampwork spacers
    ( feel free to substitute your own choice of beads! )
  • 9 Bali-style bead caps/cones (4 x 4 mm)
  • 11 Bali-style 6mm Daisy Spacers
  • 1 decorative sterling headpin (sterling headpin with a large, showy "head")
  • approx. 18 inches sterling wire, dead soft, 22 gauge approx., cut into 4 x 3.5 inches and one piece 3.5 - 4 inches, depending on the size of the beads. Smaller beads will require less wire, larger beads will want more wire.
  • 3 sterling 6 mm closed (soldered) jump rings
  • 1 sterling clasp
  • 1 sterling chain extender
  • 13 inches approx. sterling chain cut in two equal pieces
  • 1 sterling "925" tag

Tools

  • wire cutters - flush cutters
  • round nose pliers
  • chain nose pliers, preferably two pairs
  • crimp pliers (optional)

Let's begin

Start by selecting your main design elements. I have chosen to flank a decorated lampwork spacer with two smaller spacers in one of the accent colors from the bead.

Cut your wire into 4 lengths of 3.5 inches, and the remainder - which is for the center dangle. (3.5 - 4 inches - adjusting as necessary if your beads are substantially larger or smaller than these.) I usually work with longer pieces of wire, but when working with sterling wire, I hate to waste any, and I find that 3.5 inches is the least I can use and still be able to do comfortable wraps.

 

 

Using your round nose pliers, bend a 90 ° in a 3.5 inch piece of wire about 1 inch from the end.
Add a closed (soldered closed) jumpring (so you don't forget) and then bend a loop in the end of the wire by bending around the jaw of the round nose pliers.
Wrap the wire out and over the jaw furthest from you and back parallel to the main piece of wire.
You now have a 3/4 of a loop, with the jumpring in it. (Yes, of course, you can make the 3/4 loop first, add the jumpring at this stage. Just be aware that you might forget the jumpring entirely and wrap the loop, and then half to cut it apart and start again. )
Now you are going to wrap the loop - complete the loop by wrapping the tail (the piece that you formed the loop with) around the main stem of wire 2-3 times.
The loop is closed.
Hold the loop stable with your pliers. Grasp the end of the wire firmly with your fingers and pull it around the main stem of the wire.
Wrap around again (it looks nicest if you can wrap the coils tightly together away from the loop, but sometimes it doesn't go that way. Try and at least keep the wrapped coils tight against the main wire and tight together.)
Two and a half wraps completed.
Three wraps.
Cut off the wire end carefully with your flush cutters.
And tuck in the share end stick out with the outer loop of your crimp pliers. (You can manipulate it and flatten it with your chain nose pliers - but the crimp pliers do a better job.)

Nothing like designing as you go. I decide that this looks much nicer with some Bali-style silver instead of just plain as was my original intention.

So, I have threaded on

  • one cone/bead cap
  • one small plain lampwork spacer
  • one 6mm daisy spacer
  • 1 med decorated bead
  • one 6mm daisy spacer
  • one small plain lampwork spacer
  • one cone/bead cap

Notice how the wrapped coils of wire blend nicely with the coil-shape of the end bead.

Now complete the other end the same way. Bend a 90° angle about 1/8 of an inch from the last bead. Add your jumpring, and complete your wrapped loop.
Now for the second element. Bend a 3.5 inch section of wire, about 1 inch from the end into the start of a loop, add the just finished section, …
and complete the loop with wraps.

Trim your wire and tuck in the end, then add your beads and silver, and complete the wrapped loop at the end.

  • one cone/bead cap
  • one small plain lampwork spacer
  • one 6mm daisy spacer
  • 1 med decorated bead
  • one 6mm daisy spacer
  • one small plain lampwork spacer
  • one cone/bead cap

Don't forget your jumpring in the loop!

Here, I double check my design by holding the lampwork beads in place by threading them on the same steel rods that they are originally made on. (Called mandrels.)

 

 

The center dangle is threaded on a headpin with a large decorative end, and then

  • one daisy spacer
  • one lampwork bead
  • one daisy spacer
  • one lampwork bead
  • one daisy spacer
  • one lampwork bead
  • one bead cap/cone, and

thread through the center jumpring and close the loop and wrap it.

Instead of making this necklace a series of beads that go all the way around the neck - which would make it heavy, bulky and possibly overwhelm the wearer, to say nothing of expensive! - We are going to make the sides and back of straight sterling chain.

 

Instead of adding a jumpring at the end of the fourth element, include the end link of half of your chain in the loop.
Now add the clasp. This chain is heavy enough that I feel confident to cut a single link, open it by twisting side to side, and using the cut link as a jumpring to attach the clasp, and then closing the link again.
Remember, always twist the ends of the cut link away from the center - never pull out. Pulling will weaken the link and make it break, if not now, at some time in the future.

Then add the rest of the chain to the other side of the necklace. As this particular chain has very fat links without a lot of room to hook my clasp to, I added a chain extender so that the clasp could hook onto the smaller links. This also makes the length of the necklace adjustable. If your clasp will hook onto your chain, then this step is redundant.

I also added a sterling hangtag - to indicate that the necklace is made with sterling silver parts. I think this is a very nice touch - especially if you are selling your work. It adds cachet and increases the value in the eyes of the customer.

The finished necklace. Bright happy beads!

Copyright 2005 Dwyn Tomlinson, All Rights Reserved. Used with permission by the Beading Times.

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