Getting Loopy: How To Make The Perfect Wire Loop (after a bit of practice)

Beading Daily contributing editor Sandi Wiseheart offers some advice about making wire loops:

Even though it may be invisible, the type of string, wire, thread, or cord you choose to make your jewelry is critical to the overall success of the piece. Heavy beads require heavy-duty stringing material that won’t stretch or snap; certain jewelry styles require stringing stuff that is as beautiful as the beads themselves. If you choose stringing materials carefully, then your jewelry will last longer and be more professional in appearance.

What you need to practice: Several 6" lengths of 20-gauge jewelry wire. Round-nose pliers. Pencil. Beads that will fit on the wire. 

  1. Make a mark on one of the tips of the pliers with the pencil, about a third of the way from tip to base. This is your guide-mark; you're going to try to make all your loops at this point on the pliers, in order to help keep the loops all about the same size.
  2. With the pliers in your dominant hand and the wire in your other hand, make a 90-degree bend about one-half inch from the end of the wire. Be sure to make a sharp bend, not a rounded bend—but don’t make it so sharp that you break the wire!
  3. Hold the bent wire with the long "leg" pointing down and the short "leg" pointing right at you.
  4. Grab the tip of the short leg with the pliers, so that your palm faces away from your body. Position the pliers so that the wire is at the guide mark you made in step 1. You are going to be rolling that short leg into a curl, rolling it away from you and towards (and above) the bend.
  5. Start rolling the pliers away from you, trying to keep the wire always centered over itself in the same plane. Follow your guide mark around the tip of the pliers.
  6. At the half-way point, your arms will start complaining that they don't bend that way, no matter how great your pliers are. Humor them (your arms, not the pliers). Stop rolling, open the jaws of the pliers a bit, roll the pliers back a half-turn or so, and double-check to make sure the wire loop is still centered over the rest of the wire and also over the guide-mark on the pliers.
  7. Keep rolling until the loop is closed. Slide the pliers out, and admire your loop!

    If it wasn't your perfect Barbie dream loop, don't worry. You're going to make some more right about now, so you'll get lots of practice.

  8. Slide a bead onto the long leg of the wire and snug it up against the loop.
  9. Use your thumb to push the long leg over your bead, creating another 90-degree angle at the point where the wire exits the bead hole.
  10. Snip the bent end of the wire so that it is about one-half inch long, or the same length as the original short leg of wire. This helps the loops on each side of the bead match up, size-wise.
  11. Hold the bead so that the bent short leg pointing straight at you, with the bead below the bend. Again, you will be rolling the the short leg away from you, towards and above the bend.
  12. Repeat steps 4-7 above.

    Look at you! You looped! You not only looped, you beaded, and you ended up with a lovely hand-made beaded link thingie. If you repeat the steps above, you will end up with lots of beaded link thingies, all in a happy pile in front of you. Play with them for a while until you decide how they ought to fit together, and then connect the links, opening and closing the loops the same way you would open and close jump rings. Add a clasp, and guess what: you're a wire-working star!


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