Making handcrafted wire and beaded jewelry is a relaxing hobby that can bring you enjoyment and profit. The process of making a piece of jewelry engages your mind and your senses. The rhythmic motions of beading can be as calming as meditation, but at the end of your project you have something tangible that enhances your attire and others can admire. Beading projects can be made from inexpensive decorative materials, or from gemstones and precious metals such as gold and silver. The design of your necklaces, bracelets, pendants, brooches, and earrings is limited only by your imagination.
Supplies and findings:
This particular project uses 24-gauge gold-plated wire, aquamarine beads, fresh water pearls, vermeil beads, and a vermeil loop-and-bar clasp. When choosing your wire, beads, and findings, make sure that the wire will go through the holes in the beads. Heavy beads require heavier wire and should have bigger holes.
You will need several kinds of pliers for wiring work. The most useful are small needle-nose pliers, curved-nose pliers, wire cutters, and round-nose pliers which are shown here left to right. When you buy your tools, choose good quality tools that operate smoothly and that are comfortable to grip. Poorly machined tools will make it difficult to obtain good results, and may cause you to spoil and waste expensive materials. Below, there is a section where you can order jewelry supplies online.
Step 1: Thread the beads
There are many ways of doing a wiring project, but the best way to prevent errors and to avoid wasting wire is to thread all the beads on the wire in the sequence in which they will be joined together. As the loops of a bead are finished, the end of the wire is passed through the last loop to link the next bead on the wire.
Step 2: Making the first loop.
Using the round-nose pliers, hold the wire approximately half an inch (1.5 cm) from the end and make a 3/4 turn loop so that the end of the wire is away from you. Notice that this creates a loop the wire around the bottom jaw of the round-nose pliers. Remove the pliers from the loop and re-insert them so that the main wire is between the jaws of the round-nose pliers. This makes it possible to hold the main wire firmly and use the curved-nose pliers to pull the end of the wire and wrap it around the main wire by pulling from underneath toward you and then over the top of the main wire.
Step 3: Completing the first loop
This illustration shows how the end of the wire held by the curved-nose pliers has been wrapped once around the main wire being held by the round-nose pliers. The end wire is wrapped around the main wire a second time. The remaining piece of end wire is trimmed as close as possible to the main wire with the wire cutters, and the small needle-nose pliers are used to press the cut end so that it does not stick out and snag clothing later.
Step 4: Placing the bead
When the first loop has been finished, slide the next bead threaded on the wire against the first loop. The round-nose pliers are placed on the main wire next to the bead, but with a gap equal to two widths of the wire. This will make it possible to wrap the wire twice between the bead and the round-nose pliers.
Step 5: The second loop of the bead
Holding the main wire firmly with the round-nose pliers, use your free hand to wrap the wire over the top jaw of the round-nose pliers and around the portion of the main wire that is between the pliers and the bead. Repeat wrapping the wire a second time. Tug the wire firmly as you wrap the wire.
Step 6: Completing the second loop
This photograph shows the bead after the wire has been wrapped one and one-half times around the wire between the round-nose pliers and the bead. It is important to have sufficient space between the bead and the round-nose pliers to wrap the wire twice to complete the loop. Judging the distance between the bead and the pliers requires experience and practice.
Step 7: Trimming the bead
When the second wrapping is complete, the wire is trimmed as close as possible to the main wire. Notice that no wire is wasted when the wire is cut for the second loop.
Thread the main wire through the last loop completed.
Step 8: Linking the next bead
Use the round-nose pliers to hold the wire approximately half an inch from the end and make a 3/4 turn loop. This is the same as Step 2, except that the last loop of the previous bead has to be within the new loop being formed.
Step 9: The first loop of the next bead
Wrap the end wire twice around the main wire using the pliers as in Step 3. Trim the end wire, and press the end with the small needle-nose pliers. Slide the next bead toward the finished loop, and proceed as in Steps 4 and 5.
Step 10: The second loop of the next bead
Step 10 is like step 6. The process repeats by linking the next bead until the beads have been exhausted or the proper length has been achieved.
Step 11: Attaching a clasp
A clasp may be attached by shaping the wire into a figure 8 with the round-nose pliers. The clasp is placed in one of the loops, and a loop from the string of beads is placed in the other. The small needle-nosed pliers are used to hold the wire firmly.
Step 12: Completing the clasp attachment
The wire is wrapped three times around the center of the figure 8. Press the wrapping with the pliers, and trim the excess wire.
Supplies for making matching earings
Earrings require 24-gauge gold-plated wire, aquamarine beads, fresh water pearls, vermeil beads, gold-plated earring hooks, and gold-plated flat-headed pins. The pins are used to make a loop only on one side of the pearls in this case.
Making a loop using a pin
This photograph shows the pin being held by the round-nose pliers. Notice that there is a gap approximately equal to two thicknesses of the pin wire. This gap will make it possible to wrap the wire twice around itself to make a loop.
It is possible to create a loop for a single bead using craft wire instead of a pin. This is illustrated in the series of pictures below.
Finishing a loop using a pin
Using the bent-nose pliers, wrap the wire twice around itself as in Step 6, above, and trim the wire as in Step 7.
Make a loop using craft wire
Create a loop for a bead using only craft wire by threading the wire through the bead, and then making a small hook which is trimmed close to the bend. The bent portion of the wire holds the bead in place and the loop is made as indicated previously.
Setting up the beads
Thread all the beads on the wire in the sequence in which they will be joined together. Proceed to loop the wire as in Steps 8 and 9, above.
Linking the pearl
The pearl is attached through the wire loop using the same technique shown in Step 8. This picture shows the pearl after the wire has been bent with the round-nose pliers with a 3/4 turn loop. Hold the short wire with the bent-nose pliers, and wrap it twice around the main wire being held by the round-nose pliers as in Step 9. The process is repeated as for the necklace.
Artfully bent wire in combination with crystals and gemstones can produce attractive jewelry pieces. The wire bracelet above was made by bending jewelry wire using a Thing-A-Ma Jig peg board. Although it is possible to bend the wire using only pliers, it is difficult to obtain the regular spacing required for aesthetic results without a pegboard.