Get Creative with Chain in Your Beading Projects

Aug 28, 2011

I'm probably not the first person to mix chain and bead embroidery, but I certainly love it! I think the first time I saw chain and bead embroidery mixed together, it was in some of Diane Hyde's amazing Bead Punk pieces. I was totally inspired by the way the chain added an industrial feel to the more traditional look of bead embroidery, and it also occurred to me that using chain in my bead embroidery pieces would be a way to quickly add a strap to my bead embroidered pendants. (Not that I was being lazy with my bead embroidery. When you're in the middle of craft show season and realize that you need to crank out seven or eight more pendants in one week, anything you can do to make that process go faster is a good thing!)

Here are some of my favorite ways to creatively use chain in my beading projects:

Use it a little: Chain can be used as a subtle accent if you just use one or two strands of it. Because this bead embroidered pendant used bold amethyst and carnelian gemstone cabochons, I didn't want the chain to overwhelm the embroidery and the colors. This vintage brass chain that I found at Earthly Adornments was delicate enough to add some color and texture to the piece of bead embroidery without overwhelming it.
Use it a lot: Sometimes, though, I feel like going crazy with chain, and that's what I did with this piece of bead embroidery. I found some long bugle beads in my stash that picked up the colors in the embroidery and attached them to head pins that were attached to assorted lengths of chain. Each length of chain was stitched on to the bottom of the bead embroidered pendant as fringe. Using lots of chain for fringe can give your piece of bead embroidery a wonderful sense of movement!
Just use it! Once in a while, I want my chain to play center stage, or at least to have more than just a supporting role in my beading. This big, bold copper chain worked perfectly with the big, bold Swarovski crystal and right-angle weave beaded beads. Use your favorite chain to hang easy beadwoven pendants or components for a fast and flashy necklace!

If you're looking for some new ways to inject a little creativity into your beaded jewelry projects, check out the new Creative Jewelry special issue from the editor of Stringing and Beadwork magazines. It's packed with over a hundred great jewelry designs from today's top bead artists and jewelry designers. You'll find hot trends, classic designs, and of course, step-by-step instructions and complete resource lists. Pre-order your copy of Creative Jewelry and find new inspiration for your beaded jewelry projects!

Do you use chain in your beadweaving and bead embroidery projects? What's your favorite place to get chain for your jewelry making projects? Share your favorite sources here on the blog, or better yet, post a picture of beadwork featuring creative uses of chain in the Reader Photo Gallery!

Bead Happy,











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giftanne wrote
on Aug 29, 2011 7:16 AM

I'm wondering where I can find the instructions for the pictured necklace in the "Just Use It " section above. It is the "Big, bold Swarovski crystal and right-anglr weave beaded bead" necklace." It is really beautiful!


Dita Basu wrote
on Aug 29, 2011 11:29 AM

That's a great idea.  It's not that I did not know about it but your pictures really inspire me to try chains more in my pieces now.  Thank you Jennifer. Dita.