Wire Focal Bead (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Wire can make stunning beads.

Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

In this tutorial we’ll wrap wire around a knitting needle or dowel to create a focal bead – and then embellish it with seed beads.

Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Just one of these wire beads, strung on a cord or chain, makes a striking necklace.

Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Supplies:

  • Seed beads – size 6/0 or 8/0.
    Make sure the beads fit on your wire.
    I used 11 of these 8/0 beads (you might use more or fewer beads):
    Seed beads for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg
  • Sturdy mandrel with a diameter of about 3mm to 4mm, to wind your wire around – you might use a size 4 knitting needle, or thin wooden dowel, or a chopstick, or good-sized round nail, or similar item.
    A mandrel of this size will make a focal bead that can be strung on most cords and also many chains.
    I used my grandmother’s size 4 knitting needle:
    Knitting needle mandrel for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg
  • Craft wire / Artistic wire – 20 or 22 gauge.
    I used 20 gauge Artistic wire in gunmetal color:
    Wire for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg
  • Wire cutter.
  • Round nose pliers.

How to Make a
Wire Focal Bead

Quick Tip:

Before we get started, here’s a handy hint.

If you find it difficult or uncomfortable to hold onto your wire that’s been wrapped around your mandrel, try this.

Cut a small square of rubberized, non-skid shelf liner, and fold it over your wirework:

Comfortable, easy way to hold your wire on the mandrel - Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

The shelf liner grips the wire easily, and also provides a bit of a cushion between the wire and your fingers.

As your wire bead grows, move the position of the shelf liner as needed.

(And be careful not to wire-wrap it to your bead! 🙂 )

Now let’s get started wrapping the wire around your knitting needle, dowel, or other mandrel.

We don’t know exactly how much wire we’ll be using to create this bead.

So instead of cutting a piece of wire, we’ll use the wire directly from its spool.

Lay the end of your wire across your mandrel, and hold it in place with your thumb:

Using wire directly from the spool for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now we’ll make the first layer of wire wraps.

This layer of wraps will create the bead’s hole, which we want to be smooth and even.

So we’ll start wrapping the wire around the mandrel with nice, tight, even wraps.

Hot Tip: You’ll make the best wraps by pulling the wire taut as you wind it around the mandrel. Don’t push the wire around the mandrel; instead, pull the wire firmly and wind it tightly:

Making wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Keep making your nice tight wraps:

Making wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

. . . until they’re somewhere around 2 to 2.5cm (0.75″ to 1.0″) long:
Measuring wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now that the first row is done, we don’t have to be quite so neat and even with our wraps for the rest of this project.

From here on out, the wraps don’t have to be tightly together, and it’s okay to make interestingly messy wraps, or slanted wraps, or however you feel like wrapping!

Also, since we’re making a bead that’s widest in the middle and tapered at the ends, each row of wire wraps will begin and end a little farther in from the previous row’s ends.

Now we’ll make the second row of wraps, right on top of the first row of wraps.

So start in a little way from the end of the first row of wire wraps, and begin wrapping back over the top of the first row with your messy wraps:

Starting the second row of wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

. . . and keep going:

Second row of wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

. . . and stop wrapping a little way before you get to the end of the first row of wire wraps:

End of second row of wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now let’s wrap row 3 on top of row 2, beginning and ending a little farther in from row 2’s ends:

Third row of wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now let’s wrap row 4 on top of row 3, beginning and ending a little farther in from row 3’s ends:

Fourth row of wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now let’s wrap row 5 on top of row 4, beginning and ending a little farther in from row 4’s ends:

Fifth row of wire wraps for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now we’re ready for row 6 (the final row of wraps) and adding the seed beads.

It’s time to cut the wire from its spool.

Measure a long tail of wire, about 8″-12″ (20cm – 30cm) from your last wire wrap, and cut the wire there:

Cutting the wire for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now string one of your seed beads onto the long wire tail:

Adding seed beads to Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

. . . and start wrapping the long wire tail to make row 6:

Adding seed beads to Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

String a second seed bead onto your long wire tail, and continue to wrap the wire tail for row 6:

Adding seed beads to Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Keep adding beads and wraps till you finish row 6:

Adding seed beads to Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now use your wire cutter to trim off the remaining end of the long tail of wire that’s left over at the end of row 6:

Trimming wire ends for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Then use your wire cutter to trim of the remaining short tail of wire that’s left over from where you started row 1:

Trimming wire ends for Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your round nose pliers to curve and tuck the wire ends into the nearby messy wraps of your wirework.

Now your wire focal bead is finished!

And because of your tight wire wraps on the first row, your wire focal bead has a smooth, sturdy hole structure that will make stringing easy:
View of the hole in Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

And the hole is large enough to accommodate cords up to 3 to 4mm size, as well as many chains and other stringing materials. (I think these beads look smashing on satin cord!)

Your finished wire focal bead should look something like this:

Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Wire Focal Bead - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Wire Focal Bead - 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 these, Rena!! I think this is my kind of wire-wrapping, lol! It would also be a good way for me to use up the wire I have laying around that I’m not using. It occurs to me that the technique is the same that I was using with my thread-wrapped pieces, where I wrapped tightly first, then went back over with messy wrapping, adding beads. I’ll have to try the beads … thanks! 🙂

  2. I am thinking these would make neat earrings!

  3. Thanks for this idea, Rena. I enjoy your site very much and appreciate what you share with us.

  4. These are great! You can make them out of sterling and copper as well and add Swarovski crystals or tiny gemstone beads. Great idea. Thanks Rena! 🙂

  5. I love this!

  6. Julie White says:

    This is a great idea with infinite possibilities! Thank you Rena. I never would have thought of this. I’m a bit averse to ” wire wrapping, caging,etc” but I can make all kinds and sizes of inventive beads this way using different wires and small beads and crystals.

  7. Thanks Rena, great tip on using the shelf liner!

  8. kim michaels says:

    I love working with wire.But these wire beads look fantastic…Already made 1.
    Just to see how i went,used copper wire.Its not the best,but still turned out really nice…Thank you kindly…hugssssssss

  9. Thanks Rena! did you say roughly how many beads you used? Sorry I’m a little slow. Its 1am my time. Cant wait to try & make them.

  10. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments on this project!

    Hi Beth – Thanks for asking how many beads I used. I just added beads and wrapped them on without planning any specific number of them to use. It turns out that I used 11 seed beads on the blue focal bead, and 9 seed beads on the green one.

  11. They’re beautiful, really unusual.

  12. I love the tip about using shelf liner to make it easier. I shy away from wire work because it hurts. I may have to give that tip a try. Lovely beads by the way =)

  13. These are so pretty, I’m going to have to make some of these. I love your grandmother’s knitting needle too.

  14. Jann Olson says:

    You make some wonderfully creative jewelry! Thanks so much for sharing it.
    hugs,
    Jann

  15. Lovely! and would be so easy to personalize! I could see having one of these wire focal beads in every color or maybe several of each color!

  16. Lovely! Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. This is a great tutorial. I know that I could make this using your step by step instructions.

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