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Tiny dancers

Wire dance partners encircle a focal bead



  • flat focal bead, top-to-bottom drilled, approximately 1 1⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 in. (3.2 x 3.8cm)
  • 1g size 15/0 or 11/0 seed 
  • beads (optional)
  • 1 yd. (.9m) 24-gauge wire
  • chainnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • wire cutters



Editor’s Note: You can achieve different curves by varying where you grip the wire along the jaws of your pliers. For gentle curves, use the larger end of your roundnose pliers. Use the tip when you want to make small rounded bends or circles. Choose chainnose pliers for flat areas and sharp angles.

Concentrate on one bend at a time. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. You can use chainnose pliers to gently flatten out any bend that doesn’t match your template, and try again.

Tiny dancers fig 1
Figure 1

1. Using your chainnose pliers, grip the wire 2 in. (5cm) from the end, and make a right-angle bend.

2. With the 2-in. (5cm) end on the left, position your wire over the FIGURE 1 template so that the bend lines up with point a.

Tiny dancers a
Photo A
Grasp the working end just below where it lines up with point b, and bend the wire over your pliers to match the figure (PHOTO A).


Tiny dancers b

3. Lay your wire on the template, lining up points a and b. Grip the working wire with your pliers at point c to create another bend (PHOTO B).

4. Continue making bends, following the template and switching between roundnose and chainnose pliers as needed (see Editor’s Note), until you’ve created a female form that’s 11⁄8 in. (2.9cm) tall and 7⁄8 in. (2.2cm) wide from arm-tip to arm-tip (c–d).

Tiny dancers fig 2
5. At point d, use your chainnose pliers to make a right-angle bend. This bend is now the base of the next form (FIGURE 2, point a). 


Tiny dancers c
Photo c

Line your wire up with the next template (PHOTO C), and make a male form (a–b).

Tiny dancers d
Photo D

6. Repeat steps 3–5 to make another female form and a male form, following figures 1 and 2. When laid flat, the forms should form a rough circle.


Tiny dancers fig 3
Figure 3
7. Hold the forms so that all the bases touch in the center. Wrap the working wire around the base of the first form’s legs (PHOTO D AND FIGURE 3, A–B).
Tiny dancers e
Photo E

8. Cross the working wire over the second form, and wrap tightly around its legs (PHOTO E AND B–C). Repeat to wrap the legs of the third form (c–d). On the final form, make sure that the wire tail is wrapped alongside the legs within the final loop (d–e).

9. Secure the tail by using it to wrap a tight loop around the working wire, close to the base. Leaving a 1⁄2-in. (1.3cm) tail, trim the tail, and align it parallel to the working wire.


Tiny dancers f
Photo F

10. String your focal bead over both wire ends (PHOTO F). If the hole of your bead is too big, use the long wire to pick up enough matching seed beads to fill the hole.

Tiny dancers g
Photo G

11. Arrange the forms so that a male and a female are facing each other on each side of the bead, and gently bend them up. Make a wrapped loop above the bead, and trim the excess wire (PHOTO G).


Tiny dancers h
Photo H

12. Using your chainnose pliers, gently compress the ends of the female forms’ hands. Bend up the tips, and insert them into the males’ hands. Using your roundnose pliers, uniformly bend each female’s hand over slightly to secure the connection (PHOTO H), making sure not to tighten so much that you distort any of the forms.

Tiny dancers i
Photo I

13. Once all the forms are initially joined, gently tighten the hand connections. If there’s too much slack around the bead, fold the males’ hands over as well (PHOTO I). Adjust all the forms around the bead so that no parts will catch on anything.


DIY Dancers

  • To match a differently sized bead, adjust the figures shown. Or create your own templates: Wrap a piece of paper around the width of your bead. Divide that measurement by 4 (if you’d like four figures) to determine the widest part of each figure. To accommodate the connections, add 1⁄8 in. (3mm) to the arms on each side of every figure. Add 1⁄8 in. (3mm) to the height of each figure at the feet for wrapping the base. Sketch out those measurements as a rough pattern, and draw your new character templates within those lines.
  • To use a single dancer, lengthen the arms enough to reach around the bead, intertwining them at the back.
About the author

To learn more about wire, check out Karen Rakoski's book Chain Mail & Wire Reimagined.

Chain Mail & Wire Reimagined unites chain mail and wire techniques to create jewelry with an entirely new look! Jewelry makers will first learn how to shape wire motifs into diamonds, ovals, twists, and more. These wire shapes will then act as decorative links, connecting traditional chain mail weaves. The resulting jewelry is both glamorous and wearable for all occasions.

FIND MORE: pendants , wirework , beads

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