Tutorial - Chain beads

How to make a chain necklace that interlocks

I like making items from 'found' stuff. In my day job, I work with computers, so I have a lot of left over copper wire from old wiring or networking upgrades. I like to take the stuff that would end up in the garbage and see if I can improve on the original concept. I have some old copper wire that is about 26 gauge that I use with some beads to make chains for necklaces, sunglasses, and USB drives. I take the wire and wrap it around a round nose pliers, to get a connection part. Then I put a bead or several on the wire and wind the other end around the pliers and back on itself. I have just created a bead. Then I thread a new wire through the connection and start over. When I get going, I seem to make miles of the stuff. Here is what it looks like in pictures:

Start with the following tools:

  • 2 or 3 pliers
  • copper wire
  • beads

That is it. The only 'special' pliers you need are the round nosed ones. Then any needle nose, or just narrow nosed pliers will work. You will also need to be able to cut the wire, but you can use an old pair of scissors. The copper wire I use generally started life as part of an appliance or a cord for a computer part. I strip the plastic sheath off and, voila, instant copper wire.

Beading Supplies
The beads can be any size that will fit on the copper wire. I like a mix of sizes and colors, and most hobby shops now have bags of complimentary beads. If you are just starting, these packages are a real time and money saver. I found that the colors choice and bead choices in the pre-packaged mixes are very nice.
I have lots of 'left over project' beads from the little extras in kits that require me to be very creative. I find that I like the challenge of using them up on another project.
Making the first bead is the easiest. Wind the end of the wire around the round nose pliers and then make a loop. Wrap the short end around the long. When you have had practice, you will be able to get just enough wire to make a couple rounds. Put beads on the long end of the wire. Use short beads, mix up colors, make the bead unique. Add 
Beads
Now on the other end of the beads, you are going to make another loop around the round nosed pliers. This time you wrap the long end of the wire around, next to the beads. Clip the long wire, and you have your first bead. First 
Bead
You can happily stop here. You now have a bead and you can continue to make individual beads this way. But I like to be lazy, I mean creative, so I take a shortcut. I make the next bead using the loop I made on the preceding bead. That means I don't have to mess with jump rings, and the beads are more secure. It also means that I will not be able to move beads around or change my mind later, unless I cut apart the chain.
Here I have a second bead started. I can use the same beading pattern I used on the first bead, or mix it up and try for a longer pattern of beads. Because I am using a mix of complementary beads, I can also make each link different and the end chain will still feel like it was planned.
All the items to make these chains can fit in a small craft bag.