Create Chain with Wire, Beads, or Yarn: 10 Ideas

Jul 6, 2009

My First Chain

I like chain so much that back in April I spent a full day making my own in a wireworking workshop.  Using steel wire, I made my own jump rings, formed my own links, hammered them, joined them, and polished the finished piece.  The best tip I learned:  Once you've figured out the size of wire needed for your link, use one piece of wire as the "master" to measure the others.  If you keep measuring new pieces based on the last piece you cut, you'll gradually end up with links that are noticeably larger than the original.

After I finished my chain, I admired it for about five seconds and then wondered how many other ways can you make chain?  Frankly, I thought I would dash off a list of three techniques and go back to the spiral peyote bracelet that I'd abandoned.  But a cruise through the Interweave store showed me that there are lots of ways to make chain.  No matter what kinds of tools you have—beading needles, crochet hooks, torches, crimping pliers—you can experiment with making your own chain.

Create Chain with Wire, Beads, or Yarn:  10 Ideas

1. Join Jump Rings
Link single jump rings for simple chain or form chain-maille patterns like Ribbon of Rings or Inversion Earrings.

2. Connect Beads with Wrapped Loops
String beads between wrapped loops, then connect all the loops as in the Coiled Pearl Necklace

3. Create Your Own Links from Wire or Metal
Create wire links yourself as shown in Lisa Niven Kelly's Scroll Gate Chain.

4.  Fuse Silver Links Together
If you have a torch, you can create your own wire links and fuse them together as in the Summer Garden Bracelet.

5. Sew Your Own Chain
The polyester chain used in Katie Hacker's Certified Organic necklace is not handmade, but it opens up a world of possibilities.  What about chain made with ribbons or scraps of fabric?

6. Knit a Chain
To knit around beads, try a spool knitter as Stephanie Riger does in Caged Luster. For a wire chain, try the Viking Knit technique used in the Trichinopoly Chainwork necklace.

7. Crochet a Chain
A kid's project, Jewels from the Sea, with a simple yarn crochet chain shows off a shell pendant.

8. String links from seed beads or spacers.
String seed beads or spacers on beading wire and crimp to form links as in Chain Rules.  Choose crimps that blend in with the beads or those can be easily covered by larger bead holes.

9.  Stitch links together.
Follow Dustin Wedekind's lead in Linked Ladder Rings and connect ladder-stitched rings for a bold look.  Or try Shelley Nybakke's right-angle-weave version of chain in Luscious Links.

10. Fake it.
Rather than creating separate links and rings, create an all-in-one piece that mimics the look of chain like the Green Goddess choker by Bonnie Clewans.  The combination of ladder stitch and netting gives the look of chain, although the rings are not completely separate. 

So that's my list on possible chain techniques.  What ideas do you have for making chain?  Please share your ideas on the website.


Related Posts
+ Add a comment

Comments

on Jul 6, 2009 6:44 AM
Would you consider writing out the instructions for the unpolished steel chain pictured in today's article as a free project? I've done memory wire jewelry since 2001, but I am an absolute beginner with other kinds of wire. Your black chain looks simple, but elegant - which is what I strive for in my pieces.
on Jul 6, 2009 7:16 AM
I like using jumprings to make chain. It gives a unique form and character to the chain. The homemade feel really radiates when you do this!
on Jul 6, 2009 9:03 AM
I find toggle clasp rings and the eyes from hook & eye clasp sets to offer a wealth of chain ideas. Use jumprings (or bead some rings) to link together.
KatinaH wrote
on Jul 6, 2009 10:05 AM
When I took a wire wrapping course my instructor, Dale Nichols, showed us a really simple but pretty link that you can make from scrap. He advised that we make the links after we finished each wire wrapped piece and after a while we'd have a unique chain.
on Jul 6, 2009 10:21 AM
I make sterling silver chain using jump rings or other soldered wire designs, but I've been wanting to try working with steel. Can you provide more information about the differences in working with steel vs silver?
AndreaM226 wrote
on Jul 6, 2009 11:22 AM
"Getting Started Making Wire Jewelry" by Linda Chandler and Christine Ritchey is a great book for beginners. The Beading Daily Project Library has designs for all skill levels. www.ArtJewelryMag.com also has a lot of designs for wire and chain maille. www.about.com has a section on jewelry with lots of wire projects and instructions. I've started a notebook, just a three ring binder, to keep all my "wire" instructions and design ideas together in one place. My best advice for beginners is to buy "craft wire" and practice, practice, practice. Knitting needles make great mandrels for making jump rings and once you've got that down the possibilities are endless.
on Jul 8, 2009 11:49 AM
I have been working on a chain (off and on) that uses green glass oval rings and peyote bands in copper to conect them. I think the rings are vintage, but I'm not sure. Catherine, Williamsburg VA
Gyspy Mary wrote
on Jul 13, 2009 5:54 PM
I got started by taking a wire wrapping class, in order to get my husband interested. I am hooked. I love it. I ordered "All Wired Up". This is a great Information Artice and Forum for us beginners. Mary
Wanda W wrote
on Jul 19, 2009 8:21 PM
In am hooked on making different types of wire chains. I love the wire-wrapped and bead or gemstone in between look. I try to wire wrap where ever I can. I have an old distrust of jump rings and I still don't trust them to hold things together. Why do you trust your jump rings? What info am I missing? Thanks great chain ideas. Wanda