Messy Wire-Wrap Bead Chain Bracelet (Tutorial)
by Rena Klingenberg. © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved
We’re going to make an artistically messy wire-wrapped bead chain, and then turn it into a bracelet.
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.
You can also make a longer bead chain to create a necklace.
- 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:
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:
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:
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:
Now your wire should look like this, with the Sharpie mark on the longer end of the wire:
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):
Now your wire should look like this, with the Sharpie mark on the longer end of the wire, just below the loop:
Now we’ll make our first messy wire wrap.
Use your flat nose pliers to grasp the wire loop you just made:
Wrap the tail of the shorter wire end tightly around the longer wire end once, just below the loop:
Now your wire should look like this:
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:
Now your wire should look something like this:
Now make a couple of free-form wraps – but this time, wrap your wire back up toward the loop:
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:
Now your first messy wire wrap loop should look something like this:
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:
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:
Now your wire should look like this:
Wrap the wire end around one jaw of your pliers, making a loop:
Now your wire should look like this (both wire loops should face in the same direction):
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Now twist open your jump rings.
Thread one jump ring through each end of your wire-wrapped bead chain:
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: