This tutorial will help you pick out the beads
your bracelet, lists the supplies and tools you need, and give you some
techniques to help you make your own charm bracelet. My instructions
assume you have very little knowledge about working with wire wrapping.
The tools I recommend are the following:
This stuff is really magic. You dip the ends
of your tools in it, and it coats them with a rubbery substance, which
keeps your tools from making little nicks in your wire as you're
working with it. It costs about $8 retail, but really lasts a long time.
This gives you a good idea of the kinds of beads you can use for your bracelet. I've got an assortment of shapes, and none of the beads are larger than the focal beads, except for a couple of thin silver leaves. There are long and skinny beads, flat clear beads, little shiny beads. When you assemble the beads, put them in a pile and see if they seem to go together. Even in the pile, your focal beads should be the ones that stand out. If any others seem to grab the attention, take them out of your pile.
You may or may not use all these beads. I always have a charm on every link of the bracelet, and usually there are 2 charms on over half of the links. You'll be checking the bracelet as you make it, so don't worry too much about the number right now. These numbers are just a guess, and you can always make charms with the seed beads, too.
If you look really closely you'll see that there are beads in the picture that I didn't use. After I got to working with the design, they just didn't fit very well. That's pretty much the way it goes every time.
Well, let's get to the creating.....
Assembling the base of the bracelet.
The first thing to do is attach the toggle clasp if you're using it. If you're using a ready made bracelet, it already comes with a clasp. If you want to use it and the length of the bracelet is right for your wrist, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you'll need to put the toggle clasp on now. One safety feature I like to have when I assemble a bracelet made of this heavy a chain is to make sure that somewhere in the bracelet is a "weak link". This is usually a link that comes with my clasp, and insures that if I catch my bracelet on something it will break there at that link, and my hand won't be broken. The toggle clasp will probably come with a link, and I use it to attach the clasp to the bracelet. MAKE SURE that you open your links from side to side so you don't weaken them, as shown in the picture below.
After you double check that your bracelet is indeed the right size, you're ready to create a masterpiece.
My first step is to put all of my focal beads on wires, as shown in the pictures below. Don't actually finish any of them until you've figured out the spacing of the focal beads. I like to hook the wires on the bracelet to see how they look before I actually wire them on there for good.
The first thing to do is put your bead on the
wire. I used a seed bead with these focal beads because the hole was so
big the head pin wanted to go through the bead. You could use a little
silver bead or a bead cap on top if you want.
After you put the bead on the wire, hold it with the chain nosed pliers as shown, and bend the wire to a right angle using your finger.
Now use your needle nose pliers to grasp the
wire at the angle you just made. Put the rubbery part inside the angle
so you do your wrapping around the pliers metal side.
Using your fingers or your flat nosed pliers,
twist the wire around the needle nosed pliers. Try to picture the final
result of the next picture.
the final result. A rule of thumb is that any time you do a new twist
with your wire, you should expect to throw away the first three tries,
so don't get discouraged with your first try.
Here is how each charm should look as it's
hanging on the bracelet.
Here's a picture of the charms wrapped on the bracelet, showing the spacing. Once you get them spaced to your liking, finish the wrapping of the wires. Remember that "throw away three" rule and don't get discouraged while you're getting the hang of this.
the loop you just made with the link of the bracelet to the right of
the area where you're working (or reverse it if your left handed).
the other end of the wire with your flat nose pliers and twist the wire
around to the back. Continue wrapping the wire until it almost touches
the top of the bead.
Clip off the extra wire. I don't wear eye
protection, but I do close my eyes every time I actually make the cut.
Also, this is a good place to note that the wire cutters have a right
side and a wrong side. They make a flat cut on the end of the wire that
...and the other end is really pointy and NOT
something you want left on your jewelry. This picture shows which is
the right side of the pliers, but the best way to experiment is to cut
off a bit of your wire and look at the ends.
This is about what the end will look like after you've cut it.
take your needle nose pliers, and put the side without the coating on
the cut and clamp the wire end down so it's even with the other twists.
This will take practice, I promise.
your finger over the end and see if it's rough. If it is, you can take
an emery board and file down the edges so the charm won't catch on your
clothes. You're supposed to use a needle file, but the emery board
works pretty well - one less tool to buy for now.
is what your final charm twisting should look like. Don't be too upset
when your first one doesn't look like this. By the end of the bracelet,
yours should be nice and even.
After you've wired on all of the focal beads, place the bracelet down on your work surface, lay it out fairly evenly, and place your other beads around to see where you might like to put them on the bracelet. Notice the long black beads, and the clear ones with the black ribbon running through them. See how evenly they are spaced. Play around with the beads until you find something pleasing. Start with the biggest beads you plan to use and work towards the smaller ones.
is the wire wrapping I did on one of the long black beads. I actually
did each one a little differently, but here's how I got this look for
Start by putting the bead on your wire, and
don't cut it off the spool. Then use your chain nose pliers and make a
fold at the end of the wire as shown.
It should look like this when you've finished.
Hook the charm onto the bracelet.
Fold up the wire with your fingers. You want
to make the wire as close as possible to the bead with this bending.
Hold the wire close to the bead to prepare to
wrap the wire around the middle of the bead.
you wrap the wire around the bead, hold it with your fingers again and
bend the wire to go back to the top of the bead, as shown.
the wire up to the top of the bead, and wrap it around the little loop
you made to hold it onto the bracelet. You will start wrapping at the
top of the bead and work towards the top of the loop. Make sure to
leave enough room at the top so the bead still dangles freely.
a picture of the final charm. Yours should look something like this.
I'm holding the charm bracelet in my hand. Don't you think this makes
this ordinary bead look special?
This is a different bead, and I did a slightly
different twisting on this one.
on the third one I did an even different winding. You'll also notice
that the tops of the three are different heights. I don't mind the
difference, and even welcome it, but if you don't like it try to make
sure the tops are the same height before you start winding.
the bracelet with the black beads on it. I've also added some little
clear beads with black seed beads at each end. They are spaced so that
they are close to the black focal beads, and that I plan to put the
large clear black beads across from the white focal beads.
it's time for you to start just adding beads. I wanted to demonstrate
how you can change the look of a bead by what you add to it. Here are
three different treatments for exactly the same bead. It's easy to play
around with your beads and try different combinations so you can get
variety in your bracelet.
a closeup of my progress so far. I've added all combinations of beads,
filling in all the spaces. Some of the beads you may want to twist some
wire around, while others you'll simply use a head pin and maybe some
another neat little trick to dress up plain beads. You can make a
spiral at the bottom of the bead. Start by threading the bracelet onto
the wire where you want the bead to go, then thread the bead.
Cut the end of your wire to make it very flat.
Using your chain nose pliers, bend over the
end of the wire to make a little hook like this.
this loop in the side of your flat nose pliers and start twisting it to
make the spiral. You will be bending the wire, not moving the pliers,
at least after your initial curl. I make three complete loops as shown
in the next photo.
Here's the spiral. You'll notice there aren't
any "tool marks" on the wire, because of using the Tool Magic.
Using your chain nose pliers, make a small
bend in the wire leaving the spiral at about a 90° to the spiral.
the bead down and using your flat nose pliers this time, make another
90° angle bend in the wire. You're leaving a longer neck this time,
make the smaller bead hang lower from the chain and have more impact.
your wrapping, making sure to slide the bracelet into the loop before
you finish it (You wouldn't believe how many times I've forgotten to do
that). This is the final bead with a spiral. Isn't it fancy?
Here's the finished product. You'll need to
own judgment as to the placement and combination of beads that you use
to finish off your bracelet, but here's a close-up look at the bracelet
as I chose to make it. On this particular bracelet there are 45 charms.
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