Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

We’re going to make an artistically messy wire-wrapped bead chain, and then turn it into a bracelet.

Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Although you could join the wire-wrapped beads together with jump rings, we’re going to make our bead chain without jump rings between the beads.

Close-up of messy wire-wrapped links - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

You can also make a longer bead chain to create a necklace.

Supplies:

  • Beads – I like using medium to large beads for this project.
    Your bead holes should be able to accommodate 18 or 20 gauge wire.
    I used 5 round, flat vintage lucite beads, 1″ (25.4mm) in diameter.
  • Artistic Wire / Craft Wire – 18 or 20 gauge round, soft wire that will fit through your bead holes.
    I used 20 gauge Artistic Wire in “gunmetal” color.
  • Wire cutter.
  • Sharpie marker – to mark your wire and your pliers.
  • Round nose pliers.
  • Flat nose pliers.
  • Chain nose pliers.
  • 2 heavy gauge jump rings – mine are 9mm size.
  • A clasp for your bracelet – I’m using a 1″ (25.4mm) artistic S-hook clasp from my Spiral Wire Hook Clasp Tutorial.

Tip for a Better Bracelet Fit:

You may find that using all large beads for your bead chain will make your bracelet length either one bead too long, or one bead too short for your wrist size.

In that case, you may want to wire-wrap enough large beads for the “one bead too short” fit.

Then add a couple of extra jump rings (or a slightly longer clasp) when you finish the ends of your bracelet.

That way you’ll end up with a finished bracelet size that’s a good fit for your wrist.

What Length Should Your Wires Be?

We’ll need one piece of wire for each bead.

Each wire should be the length of your bead, plus 6″ (152mm).

For example, each bead I’m using is 1″ (25.4mm) from hole to hole.

So I’ll add 1″ + 6″ = 7″.

That means for each 1″ bead, I’ll need to cut a wire that’s 7″ long.

I have a total of five beads, so I’ll cut five wires that are each 7″ long.

How to Make a Messy Wire-Wrap
Bead Chain Bracelet:

We’ll start by marking your pliers, so you can make all of your bead loops the same size.

(Later you can remove the mark from your pliers using a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a small piece of paper towel.)

Use your Sharpie marker to make a mark partway down one jaw of your pliers:

Marking pliers for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now it’s time to cut your wires.

Figure your wire lengths from “What Length Should Your Wires Be?” above.

Then use your wire cutter to cut a wire for each bead:

Cutting wire for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Since we’re making messy wire wraps, we don’t need to straighten the lumps and bumps out of our wire.

Now use your Sharpie marker to make a mark on each wire, 3″ (76mm) from one end of the wire:

Marking wire for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now use your round nose pliers to grasp one of your wires.

The wire should be on the spot your marked on the pliers jaw.

The spot you marked on your wire should be just to one side of the pliers jaw, on the long end of the wire (as in photo 1 below);

. . . then bend the shorter wire end upward at an angle, as in photo 2 below:

Bending wire for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your wire should look like this, with the Sharpie mark on the longer end of the wire:
Wire for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now use your round nose pliers to grasp your wire at the bend you just made in the wire (photo 1 below);

. . . then wrap the shorter end of the wire around one jaw of your pliers, making a loop (photo 2 below):

Bending wire for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your wire should look like this, with the Sharpie mark on the longer end of the wire, just below the loop:

Making a wire loop for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now we’ll make our first messy wire wrap.

Use your flat nose pliers to grasp the wire loop you just made:

Starting the messy wire wrap - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Wrap the tail of the shorter wire end tightly around the longer wire end once, just below the loop:

Starting the messy wire wrap - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your wire should look like this:
Starting the messy wire wrap - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now the rest of the wraps below this loop will be more free-form, with no need to make neat, tidy wraps.

With your flat nose pliers still grasping your wire loop, wrap the shorter wire end around the longer wire end with one or two free-form wraps – ending on the Sharpie mark you drew on your wire:

Making messy wraps for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your wire should look something like this:

Making messy wraps for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now make a couple of free-form wraps – but this time, wrap your wire back up toward the loop:

Making a messy wire wrap for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

With the remaining length of the shorter wire, wrap messily over your existing wraps, working away from the wire loop – and ending on or before your Sharpie mark on the wire:

A finished messy wire wrap for Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your first messy wire wrap loop should look something like this:

A finished messy wire wrap - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your chain nose pliers to squeeze down the end of the wire so it can’t scratch or poke anything.

Now string one of your beads onto your wire, with the bead resting snugly against the wire-wrap you just made:

Bead with one messy wire wrap - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now let’s make a second messy wire wrap, on the other end of your wire.

Use your round nose pliers to grasp the straight end of your wire, just above the bead. Your wire should be on the wire mark you made on your pliers jaw.

Bend the straight end of the wire at an angle over one jaw of your pliers:

Making the second loop - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your wire should look like this:

Making the second loop - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Wrap the wire end around one jaw of your pliers, making a loop:

Making the second loop - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your wire should look like this (both wire loops should face in the same direction):

Making the second loop - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Wrap the remaining wire tail around the wire below your wire loop to create messy wraps, the same way you did below the first loop.

Your wire-wrapped bead should now look like this:

Bead with two messy wire wrapped loops - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

You now have two options for joining your wire-wrapped beads into a chain:

Option 1: You can wire-wrap each bead individually, and then join them together with jump rings through the loops if you wish.

This makes it easier to add or subtract wire-wrapped beads later to adjust the size or design of the bracelet, by simply opening the jump rings.

Option 2: You can wire-wrap each bead to the previous bead without jump rings between them.

This means the only way to separate the wire-wrapped beads will be to cut the wire.

I’m going to show you how to do Option 2 – wire-wrapping each bead to the previous bead without jump rings between them.

When you wire-wrap your second bead, stop when you get to this point:

Making the second loop - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now string one loop of your first finished bead onto the unfinished loop on your second bead, as in photo 1 below;

. . . then slide the first bead around the unfinished wire loop of the second bead, until it rests as shown in photo 2 below:
Attaching the second bead to the first one - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use the tips of your chain nose pliers to hold the unfinished loop of the second bead.

The finished first bead should be hanging down from the unfinished loop of the second bead:

Attaching the second bead to the first one - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now on the second bead, wrap the wire tail around the wire between the unfinished loop and the bead – making the same type of messy wrap you made on the previous loops.

Your two joined wire-wrapped beads should look like this:

Two beads joined into a chain - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now add another messy wire-wrapped bead to the chain, in the same way you attached the second bead to the first one.

Continue to add as many beads to the chain as you need for your project:

Five beads in a chain - Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now twist open your jump rings.

Thread one jump ring through each end of your wire-wrapped bead chain:

Attaching jump rings to Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Twist your jump rings shut.

Attach your clasp to one of the jump rings, and fasten your bracelet.

Your messy wire-wrap bead chain bracelet is finished:

Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Want to Learn the Basics of
Designing Your Own Wire Jewelry?

Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components Class In my Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components video class, you’ll learn how to get great ideas for wire jewelry designs – and then follow my easy system for turning those ideas into successful pieces of jewelry.

By the end of this online video class, you’ll be designing and making your own artistic earwires, clasps, connectors, and pendant bails.

You’ll also learn my tips for making wire jewelry more easily, with more professional looking results.

 

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Comments

  1. I love the way you turned a bead into a larger (and more interesting) bead by adding the messy wire-wrap at each end.

  2. I really love those big beads. The way you linked them together adds a really nice touch of texture to the whole design.

  3. Julie White says:

    I’m not a fan of wire wrapping as a rule, but this ” messy wrapped” bead grows on me! Rena, your tutorial is really GREAT! Explains the process very well with super photos. Very nice, and helpful.

  4. I’ve always shied away from wire wrapping because it always looked messy when I did it, and I thought that was “wrong.” I see now that I may have been wrong about being wrong, cause this is super cute!

  5. Oh, I love this!! It’s so nice and a good idea for my bracelets with flat paper beads! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  6. Sue Shade says:

    I love the messy wrap, it really adds to this design.

  7. I do love this tutorial and have some flat, round, natural shell beads that a dear friend gave to me. I wasn’t sure what to do with them but this tutorial is perfect. I just have some questions… If you don’t mind my asking, after making the first completed messy wrap, threading the second bead and completing that messy wrap, how am I to do the rest? If I make these in sets of 2, I’ll be left with several pairs of messy wrapped beads that still need to be attached to each other. Do I attach them with jump rings? I’m sorry if this question seems silly, but I would really like to make this project and I’m not fully grasping the instructions. Thank you so much for all of your free newsletters and tutorials, Rena, I hope to be able to afford your classes in the future

  8. Hi Jami, thanks for your question! The chain is formed as each bead is attached to the previous bead – threading the next bead into the previous bead’s messy wrap. Here’s a step by step:

    (1) Start by making messy wrap Bead One.

    (2) Then thread Bead Two into Bead One’s messy wrap (which you mentioned, and as I showed in the photos above). Then complete Bead Two’s messy wraps. Now Bead One and Bead Two have finished wraps and are attached to each other.

    (3) Then thread Bead Three into Bead Two’s messy wrap. Then complete Bead Three’s messy wraps. Now you have a bead chain of 3 messy wrapped beads: Bead One + Bead Two + Bead Three.

    (4) Now thread Bead Four into Bead Three’s messy wrap. Then complete Bead Four’s messy wraps. Now your bead chain has grown to a total of 4 messy wrapped beads: Bead One + Bead Two + Bead Three + Bead Four.

    (5) Next thread Bead Five into Bead Four’s messy wrap. Then complete Bead Five’s messy wraps. At this point, my bead chain was as long as I needed for the bracelet, with a chain of Bead One + Bead Two + Bead Three + Bead Four + Bead 5. (Depending on your bead size, you may need a total of fewer or more beads for your bracelet.)

    Each new bead is attached to the previous bead’s messy wrap in the same way as I showed in attaching Bead 2 to Bead 1.

    I hope this helps, Jami – but please let me know if it still isn’t clear.

  9. Jami,
    Yes, you can also make them in pairs and attach the pairs together with one or double jump rings for extra texture and interest, but this might work better for a bracelet with smaller beads or a necklace, because adding jump rings will make the finished piece longer.

  10. Hi there! What a great tutorial! Beautiful pictures. I love the beads you chose! Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Great pictures! I like the close-ups to really get in there and see how it’s done. Thanks!

  12. I’m loving this! I’m always so impressed by your masterpieces. Pinned and tweeted. Happy Mother’s Day! Lou Lou Girls

  13. Cute bracelet. This is a fun project, and a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  14. It’s beautiful!

    xx
    Mila

  15. You Make such pretty things and great tutorials!

  16. This is such a thorough tutorial. Love all the step-by-step photos. Thanks for sharing. Pinned.

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