To Wrap or Not to Wrap; Wire that is...

Jan 24, 2011

Lime soda earring inspiration

Do you wire wrap all your loops or not? That is seriously the most popular loopy question! I must confess, up until now I didn't think I needed to wire wrap my loops. Please don't judge . .  I have had many excuses (to much time, too bulky) . . . To be honest, I'm just not good at wrapping loops! Shhhhhh, don't tell. I've been getting away with regular, unwrapped loops for years, I think it's time to take my loops to the next level and tackle the monster under the bed (in this case, the wire spool in the studio).
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I've heard many positive comments on wrapping, wire that is, not hip-hop rap! It looks more finished, they're much more secure than unwrapped loops, practice makes perfect . . . So, I'm ready to take on the wrap. Inspired by Sara Richardson's fun and funky Lime Soda Earrings from my fave 5-Minute Jewelry feature in the latest Step by Step Wire Jewelry, here's my version featuring Sassy Silky paw print beads and Swarovski crystals and pearls for a more refined style.

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My first attempts
Spacer 15x15 pixels Lessons Learned
  • Practice on inexpensive wire
  • Don't expect the first one to be perfect
  • As in all things beady, practice, practice, practice
  • Don't expect the first one to be perfect
  • Cut wires longer than the instruction calls for if you're just starting out
  • Don't expect the first one to be perfect

5 Simple Steps for Making a Wire-Wrapped Loop

Spacer 10x10 pixels 1: Use the tip of chain-nose pliers to grasp the wire right above the bead. Form a 90° bend in the wire.
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Spacer 10x10 pixels 2: Use round-nose pliers to grasp the wire at the bend. Pull the tail wire up and over the top of the pliers’ jaws.
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Spacer 10x10 pixels 3: Change the position of the pliers so the bottom jaw is in the loop.
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Spacer 10x10 pixels 4: Swing the tail wire under the pliers’ jaws.
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Spacer 10x10 pixels 5: Keep the tail wire horizontal as you coil it tightly down the neck wire.

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My final version
Spacer 10x10 pixels Viola! Here's my finished wrapped looped earring, puppy paws and all! What do you think? Do you have any wire wrapping tips you care to share with me? That was so quick and fun, I had trouble stopping! Whether you're a wrapper on not, if you love wire like I do, I think you'll enjoy the 5-Minute Jewelry feature in each issue of Step By Step Wire Jewelry

The best is yet to bead!


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JanineB@7 wrote
on Jan 24, 2011 8:01 AM

That is too funny...For years I hadn't wrapped my loops and now, unless I am using a heavy gage wire I ALWAYS wrap my loops.

Even if I feel confident that the wire will be secure....Sometimes it only takes a two loop to finish my project and knowing that my work will last is a good feeling....


DianeS@104 wrote
on Jan 24, 2011 8:45 AM

I love wrapping the loops and have a lot of practice. I use the crimping pliers to tuck the tail; it does a great job! Unfortunately, I am 70, and my hands aren't very good at wrapping without pain.

cisray wrote
on Jan 24, 2011 8:46 AM

Kristal, Here are a couple additional tips I give my students to add to your list.

1)  Practice with 22 or 24 gauge craft wire. Thicker gauges will be harder to manipulate and thinner gauges are more likely to get distorted while you're wrapping.  Both should be tackled once you've gotten the basic technique mastered.

2)  I have my students switch to chain-nose or bent-nose pliers for your step 5.  There's less chance of the piece shifting while your wrapping and loops retain their shape.

3)  Use a Sharpy to mark the position of the loop size you like on your roundnose pliers to help keep them consistent.

4)  Try working with 3 wraps, at least to start.  Mark your chain-nose pliers at the position on the jaw that would leave just enough of a 'neck' for the 3.  As in my #3, this will keep the 'necks' consistent in length.  This also helps when making chain links to keep the wraps on either side of the beads at a consistent length.        

5)  Using the outer jaw of crimping pliers will also help when tucking in that last bit of wire into the coil.

Shaktipaj wrote
on Jan 24, 2011 9:02 AM


This is a basic skill that all newbies need - thanks for writing about it!

As a teacher, I'm noticing a couple of things you do that can lead to wonky wrapped loops for beginners.

1. On Step 3, from your description I'm assuming you took the pliers out of the wrap and reinserted them - this risks not getting the pliers back into the loop exactly - if they go too far back in, that is fine, but if they don't go as far, then the loop will be pulled off round and slightly twisted.

FIX: instead of taking the pliers out, loosen your grip slightly and swing the bottom jaw to the horizontal position, so that the jaws are side by side instead of stacked - then go on to Step 4.

2. Wrapping the shank with your round nose pliers in the loop almost *guarantees*   a wonky loop for beginners. (If you are more experienced and do it this way, you have already gone through the frustration of figuring how to do this - but we don't want to wish frustration on newbies, do we?)

Ever notice that first wrap around the shank pulls the whole thing to one side and you have to grip harder to keep it still? Round nose pliers contact the wire at exactly two very small points - add the turning motion of the actual wrap, and the whole thing tries to pivot on those points.

Not only does it skew your loop into a P shape, but it also causes rounded divots in the wire. Both are avoidable, even for a beginner, by changing one thing: use your chain nose pliers to hold the loop *flat* between the jaws as you wrap.

Put as much of the loop *flat*between the jaws as possible on the fatter end, avoiding where the wires cross.

This gives much more contact with the piece for control and fully supports the loop as you wrap, keeping it round. You can also use a much lighter touch - no need for a death grip that skews things. With the loop fully supported, you can concentrate more fully on getting the wraps neat without fighting to keep your loop round.

The 'primitive organic' style hinges on less controlled loops and wire. But in order to make any other style, a 'two tool' approach is a good habit to get into.

I tell my students to think of chain nose pliers first as grippers and second as angle mandrels that can get into tight places. Round nose pliers are circular Mandrels with Handrels - and should almost *never* be used as grippers unless filing out divots that were avoidable is a passion for them.

There are lots of little tweaks and fixits for wonky loops - but avoiding the problem if you can is always preferable in my book. :^D

Thanks for the wonderful addition to my inbox in the mornings,

Perri Jackson

on Jan 24, 2011 1:04 PM

I can't help myself. I wire wrap everything if it sits still long enough.

LynzyS wrote
on Jan 24, 2011 1:59 PM

You left out a very important step in my opinion! On Step 5 use a flat nose plier to hold the loop and use your chain nose pliers to coil the wire below the loop...and Voila! A nice clean wrap! I hate messy wraps! Looks like the beader was in a hurry to finish and didn't care about being neat! I always wrap!


Shaktipaj wrote
on Jan 24, 2011 2:11 PM

LOL, Lyn!

Couldn't agree more! Sometimes I think the 'primitive' style gained ground because people haven't been taught how to easily turn a neat wrapped loop. And yes- sometimes that style does just look as if the maker said "Oh well - I'm done. I've spent too much time on this already....." not as if it were done intentionally.

Shaktipaj wrote
on Jan 24, 2011 2:12 PM

LOL, Lyn!

Couldn't agree more! Sometimes I think the 'primitive' style gained ground because people haven't been taught how to easily turn a neat wrapped loop. And yes- sometimes that style does just look as if the maker said "Oh well - I'm done. I've spent too much time on this already....." not as if it were done intentionally.


Eri3 wrote
on Jan 27, 2011 7:43 PM

Kristal thank you so much for sharing your wire wrapping experience. When I teach an earring class I like to teach 3 techniques, looping, wire wrapping and making a connecting, a wire wrap and a loop. I love to wire wrap and that is mainly what I encourage. I must admit I am horrible at creating loops. So many people are intimidated by wire wrapping and I think it is such an important technique to learn. I usually suggest like you, to use craft wire and I also tell them to do 10 wire wraps in a row. The first one is usually not very good but by the tenth one you are nearly an expert!

Sage1332003 wrote
on Jan 29, 2011 9:45 AM

Here is my method.1)Bend the wire over the bead w/ round nose pliers. 2)Hold the bead steady w/ your other hand & without removing the pliers, release your grip & rotate so that one jaw is now on the top. 3)Pull the wire back over the top jaw & push it until it is pointing down.  4)Rotate the pliers again so that one jaw is on the top.  5)W/ chain nose pliers, pull the tail of wire behind the loop so that it is a right angle from the loop.  6)Remove the pliers & rotate the bead until the wire is pointing straight down.  7)W/ another pair of chain nose pliers, grip across the loop while holding it steady.  Wrapping is done w/ half turns of your wrist.  8)W/ chain nose pliers, grab the tail of wire at the tip, and pull it straight across & under the loop. 9)Release your grip & rotate your wrist so you can pull the wire straight down. If you want a wrap that looks like a coil, this is how you do it.  The next wrap has to be slightly forward of the previous one. And, continue w/ half rotations of your wrist.  Three wraps look very nice.  For tucking the tail of wire, I use Beadalon's pearl knotting pliers.  They have very fine tips & do a fabulous job.

Kristal Wick wrote
on Jan 29, 2011 1:34 PM

Thanks to all your comments, I'll be a pro in no time!

kidsintexas wrote
on Feb 12, 2011 7:51 AM

This is the best illustration of making a loop that I have seen. The wire wrapping part is a bonus. I am self-taught and even though I have tried to follow many instructions for making a loop they still didn't come out the way I thought they should. Seeing the exact placement of the pliers was a great help. I think I finally "get it".