How to Make a Wire Bead Chain!

Great Wire Jewelry Deserves Perfect Loops

Early efforts in wire work

I was doing some domestic spelunking and found a rosary I made before I knew much about wirework. It was a gift I'd made for my son when he was little. I'd invested in stone beads, made the cross in metal clay, and chained it all together with silver wire. My son loved it because it made him feel like a big boy to have such a special, non-plastic gift. I was very proud of it at the time. But now when I look at it, I’m more than a little embarrassed. The loops are all so uneven! 




I know our learning curves all start somewhere, but that “somewhere” usually has better results if it begins with instructions in a class, book, or magazine. For instance, I could have learned how to make consistent loops in a magazine like Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry. Beading Daily is a good place to learn, too, of course. Here’s how to avoid my beaded chain-making mistakes and learn the proper way to do it.    

Step 1 mark pliers' jaw

1. Use a permanent marker to draw a line on one of the jaws of your round-nose pliers. This will help you make all bends in the same spot, creating equally-wide loops.

Step 2 chain loop

2. If necessary, use nylon-jaw pliers to straighten the last few inches of wire on the spool or roll. Don’t trim any wire off the spool yet. Flush cut the end of the wire, then slide on a bead. Grasp the wire end with the round-nose pliers at the spot you previously marked on the jaw.

step 3 wire loop

3. Roll the pliers until the wire touches itself, forming a loop. The wire will be shaped like the letter P.

step 4 wire loop

4. If your wire is 20-gauge or thinner, you can just press your thumbnail firmly into the base of the loop and pull the pliers back against your nail, so the wire looks like a balloon on a string. If your wire is thicker, you’ll probably want to grasp the wire at the loop base with chain-nose pliers instead.

step 5 wire loop

5. Snug the bead against the loop and flush cut the wire 3/8" from the

top of the bead.

Step 6 wire loop

6. Grasp the wire end with round-nose pliers at the marked spot. Pull the wire against the top of the bead at a 45° angle. 

step 7 one link complete

7. Roll the pliers to form another simple loop. The loops should be even and scroll like the letter S. Set the link aside.


Step 8 open link

Step 8b link first wire loop8. Make another link. Use flat- or chain-nose pliers to open one of the loops as you would a jump ring. Connect the loop to one of the loops of the previous link. 



So, there it is–consistent and clean work, so you’ll still be proud of it years from now.


Got any other tips for making beaded chain? Have you made some great jewelry using this technique or fashioned your own prayer beads? Share your thoughts and comments below!


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