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Wire wrapped necklace

Frame beads with coiled wire to make a necklace with exotic appeal

This necklace was inspired by techniques I learned from Eni Oken, a master wire artist to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for showing me the joys of working with wire. The central section of this necklace is made up of several bead groups that are strung on a support wire, then framed with coiled wire.


Necklace 19 in. (48 cm) with optional 3-in. (7.6 cm) extension chain

  • 25 x 15 mm focal bead *
  • 2 25 x 10 mm accent beads *
  • 13 mm two-hole sterling silver bead (Fire Mountain, 
  • assorted 4–10 mm beads
  • round sterling silver beads
    • 3 5 mm
    • 4 4 mm
    • 12 3 mm
    • 12–16 1–2 mm 
  • clasp
  • 4 ft. (1.2 m) 21-gauge wire, half-hard
  • 12 ft. (3.7 m) 26-gauge wire, half-hard
  • 3 in. (7.6 cm) chain (optional)
  • 4 crimp beads
  • 4 crimp covers
  • flexible beading wire, .015
  • bead design board or work surface
  • chainnose pliers
  • crimping pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • wire cutters

* Polymer kaleidoscope beads by Barbara McGuire,

Wrapped wrapped necklace a
Photo A
Lay out your beads on your work surface or a bead design board (PHOTO A). Place a two-hole silver bead in the center and plan three groups of beads on each side that you’ll frame with coiled wire. The beads in the central wired section should measure approximately 6 in. (15 cm) total. The remaining beads on each side will be strung on beading wire and the focal bead will be added as a separate unit.
Wrapped wrapped necklace b
Photo B

Wired center section

1. Wrap one end of 4 ft. (1.2 m) of 21-gauge wire around a finger and tuck the end through the loop to form a loose knot. String the beads for the central wired section on the wire. Slide the beads toward the end with the loose knot (PHOTO B), leaving approximately 1⁄4 in. (6 mm) between each bead group. The section of wire your beads are strung on will be called the support wire.

Wrapped wrapped necklace c
Photo C
2. Leaving 1⁄4 in. (6 mm) after the last bead, make a wrapped loop (How-Tos) at the end opposite the loose knot, wrapping the long tail around the support wire once (PHOTO C). The tail will now be called the framing wire. Measure the distance between the loose knot and the wrapped loop. Trim the framing wire so that you have at least triple this length to work with. 
Wrapped wrapped necklace d
Photo D

3. Cut 18 in. (46 cm) of 26-gauge wire (the coiling wire), and hold one end of it next to the wrapped loop, leaving a 1-in. (2.5 cm) tail. Wrap the 26-gauge wire around the framing wire to form a coil. Keep the coils straight and tight against each other (PHOTO D). 

Wrapped wrapped necklace e
Photo E
4. Continue coiling until you get to a spot where you want to add a bead to the frame. String a 1 mm bead on the coiling wire, hold it tightly in place, and continue coiling (PHOTO E). Add 1 mm beads to the frame as desired.
Wrapped wrapped necklace f
Photo F

5. Continue coiling until the coiled section is long enough to reach around the first bead group. Wrap the coiled framing wire over and then under the support wire once (PHOTO F). The spot where you wrap the framing wire around the support wire will be called an intersection.

Wrapped wrapped necklace g
Photo G
6. Continue coiling seven to nine more wraps, and then string a 3 mm bead on the coiling wire. Guide the coiling wire between the previous bead group and its frame (PHOTO G), and go back through the 3 mm (PHOTO H). This is called back-weaving a bead in place.
Wrapped wrapped necklace h
Photo H

7. Continue coiling to the next intersection, adding 1 mm beads if desired,  and wrap the framing wire around the support wire. At this point, your coiling wire will be getting short, so trim it close to the framing wire, and press the end in with chainnose pliers. 

8. Start a new 18-in. (46 cm) piece of coiling wire at the intersection. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to add a back-woven 3 mm and frame the next bead group.

Wrapped wrapped necklace i
Photo I

9. Guide both wires through the space between the holes of the two-hole bead (PHOTO I), and then complete the outer frames on the other side of the necklace to match the first side. Add new coiling wire at intersections as needed.

10. Wrap the framing wire around the support wire after the last bead group, and trim the coiling wire. With the framing wire positioned along the inner edge of the support wire, begin a new coiling wire, and frame the other side of the nearest bead group.

Wrapped wrapped necklace j
Photo J

11. When you reach the next intersection, guide the framing wire through the triangular space between the back-woven bead and the support wire, and back to the inner edge (PHOTO J).

Wrapped wrapped necklace k
Photo k

Guide the coiling wire under the support wire, bringing it through the same triangular space from back to front (PHOTO K). 

Wrapped wrapped necklace l
Photo L

String a 4 mm bead on the coiling wire, and, holding it in place on top of the intersection, wrap the coiling wire around the support wire, through the triangular space, and back through the 4 mm (PHOTO L). This is called top-weaving a bead in place.

Wrapped wrapped necklace m
Photo m

12. Make seven to nine coils, and then back-weave a 3 mm in place (PHOTO M).

13. Continue coiling, adding top-woven 4 mms and back-woven 3 mms at each intersection, and adding 1 mm beads to the inner frame to match the outer frame.

Wrapped wrapped necklace n
Photo n

14. When you reach the center bead, shape the support wire into a V. Add a top-woven 5 mm and a back-woven 3 mm at the intersection between the last bead group and the center bead. Make approximately five more coils, string a 5 mm bead onto the framing wire, and guide the coiling wire around the back of the 5 mm. The 5 mm should be centered over the two-hole bead.

Wrapped wrapped necklace o
Photo o

15. Continue coiling (PHOTO N) until you reach the intersection at the other side of the two-hole bead, and wrap the framing wire around the support wire (PHOTO O). The coiling wire should point in the opposite direction of the framing wire. Add a top-woven 5 mm and a back-woven 3 mm.

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