Fast Wire Wrapped Bead Chain

  • 01 of 08

    Making Bead Chain the Quick Way

    Turquoise Bead Chain
    Wire wrapped bead chain made with turquoise heishi beads and 22g wire. Lisa Yang

     Making wire wrapped bead chain is satisfying and enjoyable. The completed chain is very versatile and can be used for bracelets, necklaces, earrings, to make tassels or as a component in a design like this hand chain bracelet. Bead chain is made by creating and linking beads surrounded on either side with wire wrapped loops. Once you have learned the basic technique, you may wish that you could make the process go more quickly, with less time spent constantly switching tools. That's what this step by step will show you - how to make bead chain more quickly by using an assembly line methodology.

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  • 02 of 08

    Steps to Make Bead Chain

    Fast Wire Wrap Bead Chain
    The various stages of making wire wrap bead chain in an assembly line method. Lisa Yang

      The key to an assembly line process is to repeat each step a number of times before moving on to the next step in the process. The reason an assembly line process is quicker is because you make the most of using the same tool or process before moving on to using the next tool or process.  It saves you the time you would ordinarily be looking for and switching tools and materials.

    To make bead chain in this manner, you will first cut all the wire, make the open wire loops, make the first wrap, add the beads, make the second loops, connect the components and close the loops.  Refer to the following slides for details of each step.

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  • 03 of 08

    Cut the Wire for Each Bead Link

    Trim Wires
    Cut pieces of wire to the appropriate size for each wire link. Lisa Yang

     In order to cut the wire for each link in advance, you need to know how much wire is used for each link.  I described the method I use for figuring out the amount of wire for each link when making a simple loop as part of the bead link bracelet instructions.  I use a similar method when I'm making wrapped loops. 

    Before I make the first link, I cut a piece of wire that I know is longer than I need.  In this case, 2 inches of 24 g wire.  I make a wire wrapped link and when I trim the extra wire on each side of the wrapped loop, I save and measure the cut off.  In this case, my extra is just under 1 inch - so I know each link takes just over 1 inch of wire.  BUT, you can't actually cut the amount of wire you need.  There needs to be a little extra to account for variation in the size of the beads and loops, plus you need a little extra to grab onto and make your wraps.  Since this wire can get marred and flattened by your pliers, it's always best to plan to trim a little on every wrap.  

    For each of my wire bead links, I cut 1.5 inches of wire. Before I cut a lot of wire that size, I make sure that it is the right length by making a few links with that size piece of wire.  Once I make adjustments and find the right size, I will just line up a piece cut to the right size with the wire on the spool, and cut, line up again and cut, line up again and cut, etc.

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  • 04 of 08

    Make the Loop for Each Bead Link

    Make Open Loop
    Form a loop using your round nosed pliers. Lisa Yang

     After you have cut the wire for each bead link, you are going to make the loop for each link.  The quick method for making bead chain uses each tool to finish as many links as possible before putting down that tool and moving on to others.  In this case, you will use your round nose pliers to make all of the loops for the links.

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  • 05 of 08

    Wrap the Loops for Each Bead Link

    Wrap the loops
    Complete the first wrapped loop by wrapping the wire end around the main wire. Lisa Yang

    Wrap the loop for each bead link using one pair of pliers to hold the eye of the loop and another to grasp the wire end and wrap it around the neck. I use flat nose pliers and chain nose pliers or bent nose pliers.  In general, it is best to use pliers with smooth jaws so the wire doesn't get marred while you are holding it and wrapping.

    Repeat until you have finished all links.

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  • 06 of 08

    Add a Bead and Make Another Loop

    Make Second Loop
    Add a bead and make the second loop without wrapping it closed. Lisa Yang

     Make another loop above the bead using your round nose pliers. Make sure you leave the loop open so you can connect them to the other chain links. Repeat with all links.

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  • 07 of 08

    Join Bead Links, Close the Loop and Trim the Wire Tail

    Connect Links
    Add links to the chain, close the wraps, trim wire and tuck the ends to finish. Lisa Yang

     Slide the open link into a closed link and then wrap the second loop. You can choose to add all the links and then close them as you see in the picture or add them one at a time.  When I first started this method, I definitely found it easier to do them one at a time. Since I have been making wire wrapped bead chains for a while, I find it easier to connect them all and then make the wraps.

    I usually trim the wire tails as a final step - although you could trim the tails after making each wrap.  The reason I wait is just in case my second wire wrap ends up a little short, I can compensate by adjusting the first wrap as long as I haven't trimmed the tail of the first wrap yet. I prefer to have my loops snugged close to the bead so it doesn't slide around on extra wire.

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  • 08 of 08

    Enjoy Your Bead Chain

    Wire wrap Bead Chain
    Turquoise heishi bead wire wrapped chain. Lisa Yang

     How much quicker is it to make your bead chain this way?  It really depends on how familar you are with each step.  For me, I think it is much quicker since I can easily fit one of the steps in while I am doing other things like watching TV.  Doing the same step takes less concentration than making an entire link.

    When I make the complete links, I sometimes forget not to complete the second wrap until I've connected it to the chain. It's not a huge mistake, but then I have to remember to make links that are open on both sides to connect the links I made that are closed on both sides!