Make Perfect Wrapped Loops

Memory Tricks for Beading

Like you, I’ve taken classes of all sorts over the years. Most teachers use memory techniques to help you remember lists or a process. For instance, my piano teacher used the acronym (E)very (G)ood (B)oy (D)oes (F)ine so I could remember the lines of the treble clef; in 10th grade typing class I learned the pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog;” when my daughter learned to tie her shoes we sang SpongeBob’s "Loop Dee Loop" song; and in college the ne’er-do-wells who tore me away from my studies taught me “Over the lips and through the gums, watch out stomach, here it comes.”

These learning techniques are beneficial in jewelry-making, too. I remember walking down a hallway at Interweave’s BASH beading retreat in Estes Park, Colorado a long time ago and listening to wireworker Mark Lareau (author of All Wired Up and Getting Started Making Metal Jewelry) do the same thing—as I recall, he was using sound effects to the great delight of his students. And I know Joyce Scott has some pretty colorful imagery to explain peyote stitch increases and decreases.

This is what’s great about taking classes, isn’t it? Gathering tips and techniques from the pros–things you might not run across when working on your own—helps eliminate little technique obstacles so you can move on to bigger and better things in the future.

The Wrapped Loop Doo-Wop

Many of my class projects include both bead stitching and wirework and I find many off-loom-centric students aren’t that confident about their wirework skills. Most beadworkers could benefit from attending one of the many classes at Bead Fest Wire in Pennsylvania May 1-3, 2009. (I don’t even have to mention how much fun it would be for a wireworker; there are classes for every level of jewelry maker!) One technique that’s especially troublesome is the wrapped loop, so I think it’s high time we come up with a little memory technique for it, don’t you?



Make an L . . .
(Use chain-nose pliers to make a 90˚ bend about 1/4" from the top of the bead.)




And make a C . . .
(Using round-nose pliers, shape the wire over the top jaw to form a partial loop.)   





Swing it under, tweedly dee . . .
(Move the pliers so you grasp the loop with the bottom jaw, and swing the wire under the loop so it crosses the neck.)




Wrap it tight all down the neck . . .
(Use chain-nose pliers (or your fingers) to wrap the wire in a tight coil down the neck.)





Trim it close . . .
(Flush cut the wire close to the coil.)






And squeeze like heck!
(Use crimping pliers to round out the coil, tucking in the tail wire.)

What do you think of that? Let me know, and while you’re at it, share your bead-technique rhymes, ditties, and acronyms. 

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website.

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Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work.

16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily.

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Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

76 thoughts on “Make Perfect Wrapped Loops

  1. I agree, I have been using the heck out of different tools, round nose and chain nose to figure how to close the tail better.
    The crimping pliers are perfect. Going to try it out tonight on something I have been working on! Thanks

  2. Excellantly angled pix! One never sees this view anywhere. I can’t say any of the little ditties I use when working….And, the crimpers work really well! Many Thanks

  3. I love this saying! I teach private jewelry lessons to a young girl, age 11, and this will be perfect for her. She’s familiar with the technique, but has yet to fully master it. Maybe this will help!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jean! I’ve been making jewelry for years and have never been satisfied with my wrapped loops but other instructions I’ve seen just didn’t seem clear enough to improve my “technique.” Your rhyme, along with the excellent pics, have me singing for joy!

  5. Wonderful pictures, really clear. I read about the technique of using the crimp pliers early on in my beading journey and they really do work wonders and helped me to get those good wraps. I love this site and the daily email. Very encouraging and informational. I find things I can use all the time. Thank You!

  6. You have made that wonderfully simple. Nothing I have read has shown the ‘c’ bend. That might make a difference to the finish of my loops in future. Thank you very much.

  7. It’s the first time I see anyone use a crimping plier to finish off a wrapped loop, …but, it makes sense when you think about it. Great tip!!

  8. Love the idea of using crimping pliers to finish the wrapped loop. I also use them to put on and gently close my crimp cover. Thanks for the wonderful tip, can’t wait to try it out.
    Alyce Shepardson, Santa Cruz, CA

  9. Beautifully photographed… and what a perfect loop! Thanks for the “ditty” and the information about using crimping pliers to finish. Great job!

  10. Wonderful clear pictures! Could you please do the same kind of instruction for wire bails? I didn’t know about using crimping pliers. They work great. Thank You.

  11. I love it! I picked up using the crimp to close about a year ago. Not sure where, but I wish someone would make a crimp especially for this purpose. My loops have always been off. I have just done six and they each matched. Now I won’t forget which way I did the last. Wish all tutorials were this good. Thank you.

  12. I think this was great. I did not know to use the crimp tool to shape the coils and tuck the wire. This way makes it alot eaiser. I have been beading for a few years and I just started teaching younger girls so this will help out teaching them the loop. Tammy

  13. A good teacher always makes it easier for her students. Thank you for the cleaver rhyme. I know I will think of you as I say it over and over. I too have never used the the crimping pliers to finish and will try tomorrow. Thank you again for being a creative teacher. Annie

  14. love the idea of crimping tool. i been looking for flush cutter but only have found side cutter. can someone tell me the difference or why a side cutter. thank dmc

  15. I can’t wait to try this method! In all the reading I’ve done and classes I’ve taken, I’ve not seen it used…. amazing! Thanks so much for the detailed explanation, the suggestion to use crimping pliers to finish the wraps, the colorful, descriptive photos, & the perfect rhyme to accompany the concept! :-)

  16. This is excellent, i’m wondering what you have to hold the pin, looks like a little vice of some sort, thats where i have the trouble when i am doing the loop around.

  17. Using the crimping tool to finish off the coil–pure genius I’ll be using that trick tonight on my next earring creation. Thank you for sharing.

  18. I had been taught in a class to use the crimp tool for tucking in the tail. I love the six step rhyme, it’s awesome! It sounds like a great way to teach someone!

  19. Jean, I’m glad someone else is teaching the crimping tool trick for tucking the wire in tighter after it is cut. I’ve been doing this since about ’03, when I found out I love wrapping the coil for earrings. It just made them look neater than just the loop. But I add a little more than just “And squeeze like heck!” I say walk around the pole. So I gently walk (baby steps) around the cut area. I found this would tuck all the wires in closer. I taught this to a group of ladies at our regular Thursday night stitching get together, and they all love it. So now they’re all using it.

    Another thing I found, was if you have a gap between the wires while wrapping, just angle the wire slightly (and I mean very slightly) up towards the loop, as you wrap and the coils will be VERY close together (no more gaps).

  20. I teach this technique at the bead store I work at all the time, and everyone says they forget how to do it and need a refresher. I LOVE this little song, I think it will make it a lot easier for people to remember what step comes in what order. Thanks Jean!

  21. WOW! Fab-u-lous! I can’t wait to try this and also all the other little tips beaders also have shared here!
    I believe my timidity in making wrapped loops will be forever gone!!!!
    TY all so much!

  22. The one additional piece of info you might provide is that when you are wrapping down the neck, keep the tail of the wire you’re wrapping with out at a ninety-degree angle from the neck you’re wrapping onto. That way you will make sure the wrap is perfect.

  23. As I see others have written, I’ve never used crimping pliers to tuck the end–and sometimes they give me a fit! I now look forward to trying this last step–who’d a thunk it??

  24. Something to share, although not a rhyme, for new wire artists, is an easy way for beginners to remember wire gages. The fatter, the younger (14, 16, 18, 20), and the thinner the older (22, 24, 26, 28). Not that it usually works that way in real life, but a useful tool, when I was new, and I pass it along when teaching others. I did enjoy your Loop Doo Wop! That will be helpful as well. I haven’t had any trouble with using chain nose pliers to finish off my ends, but may try the crimper for fun. Also like the walk around the pole idea from Kathleen A. The first wrapped loops that I learned were not taught in a way to make them so simple. I studied books and on-line tutorials and another teacher also heped me to improve my technique. Now that I am beginning to teach others, anything that makes it fun and easier is a wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing!

  25. Hi everyone! Glad you like this post. That blue thing in the photo is actually just a resin bead–the wire I’m working with is exiting from the top of the bead, as for a wrapped loop dangle…
    I’ll must also say that I can’t take credit for the crimping pliers idea–I got that from a Beading Daily reader when I did a post on crimping last year! So much talent flows through this site and I learn so much from all of you. Happy beading!- J.

  26. Very good artical. Clear instructions for someone who is a visual learner like me. I must say that I purchaced Mark Lareau’s book All Wired Up and loved it. That was at least 4 years ago and I have never looked back. Wire work is a great addition to the creative skills of any beader. Thank you for the encouraging artical and news about the Bead Fest Wire. Also as a Dyslexic I like the Fatter Younger Thinner Older way to remember wire gages! Thanks SharonR!

  27. The pictures makes all the difference. All of a sudden “I get it”
    When I watch tutorials, sometimes the fingers get in the way and I don’t get it. Thanks Jean, also for the crimping idea. I look forward to using it soon (maybe tonight). Dawn

  28. Beautiful photography and excellent wrap. I love using crimpers to finish off my wraps! I learned it just a few weeks ago on an online beading group list. I’ve learned nearly everything I know about beading online. Isn’t it great to be able to help one another this way? Love all the instruction and ideas I get here.

  29. I’ve muddled along and managed for 15 years until I saw your
    demo…when I did it came to me like a ton of bricks just how easy it was if I followed your directions! They are so much better than all the others out there! Now my wraps are all even and pretty like yours and I don’t have to struggle so hard to get them to look decent! Voila! Thanks a bunch! :-)

    Diane Solomon
    Solomon’s Studio

  30. Thanks Jean for the tip about the crimp pliers. I would always spend frustrating minutes trying to neaten my wrapped loop with my needle nose or bent nose pliers.

  31. i learned how to do wire wraps from mark at beadfest philly in 2005 (a 50th b’day present from my best friend, crazy jane. what a friend, eh?!?!!). mark taught me about “the sacred bend”, which i have never forgotten, and thus, i have been doing them right ever since.

    i learned about using the crimping pliers to finish off the wrap in a class that i took at my local bead shop, colorful creations bead company, in e. longmeadow, ma, last year. it works, and exceedingly well at that, too!!! such a simple idea, as most things are.

    thanks for the mnemonic and the pics to go with it; you always do a wonderful job. i hope to get to meet you at a beadfest some time in the near future. until then, take care and God bless.


  32. Hi Jean,

    I too have been trying for a year to get this. As a beginner, I just stayed away from it until now(just surfing the web and found this site). Your instructions and pictures are excellent!!! What would you recommend for a beginner at the Bead Fest this year and are you teaching any classes? Thanks again, Quiet

  33. Jean, Your six steps is a great memory piece and I like the crimping tool squeeze. Here’s my question. How do you take such great pictures of each step? Do you have a mini studio/tripod set up? Do you have special lights? Or does it take two people? Hope you’ll answer this for all of us trying to put together good teaching instructions. Blessings to you, Weaver 48

  34. WOW Jean, you sure received a lot of great responses to your wrapped loop ditty, directions and crimp tool saving grace!! I am late to reply, but wanted to chime in and echo most of the compliments from all the other beader pals!
    I, like many, have been beading for many years, and am amazed that I never thought to use my crimping pliers to complete the wrapped loops! See, even us long time, experienced beaders can always learn more!
    Thanks for the ditty, great pics, and excellent helpful hint for better wrapped loops!
    Blessings abound to you!

  35. in cleaning out my mail, I came across this post today. I have been beading for over 15 years. I have NEVER been able to make a wrapped loop. maybe the eyepins I am using are just too stiff/hard to work with. my wraps just don’t look good at all. I find it very difficult to make them. does it make a difference how thick my headpins/eyepins are?

  36. Thanks Jean for a lovely clear lesson and pictures. I have a head start to remember your ryhme as I have twin daughters. The eldest is L – Lindsay and her sister is C – Claire. Your thinking is very clear.
    Sue S

  37. Crimping tool . . . of course! What a marvelously simple and obvious idea that had totally escaped me! Thanks for the tip that should take care of the little ends I can’t seem to get rid of until now!

  38. THANK YOU JEAN! This has always plagued me no matter how many times I have done a loop. Beaking this down to the simpliest form has released me. And the crimping tool – genius!