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Bead Dangles

Free instructions for making a bead dangle using common jewelry supplies and jewelry tools:

Making a Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique

Open Loop Bead Dangle made out of common jewelry supplies and beads using common jewelry tools.The first question is exactly what is a bead dangle and why do I need to know how to make one?  Normally, a bead dangle is one or more beads held in place by jewelry wire, with a loop at one end so that the bead dangle can hang from that loop.  Bead dangles can be an important jewelry making component of earrings or necklaces.

A bead dangle is an important jewelry making component, frequently made using a jewelry finding called a head-pin.  A head-pin is a piece of metal with a "head" like the head of a pin on one end and a straight wire tail usually between 1 and 3" long.  Unlike a regular straight pin, the head pin is not sharp on the end opposite the "head", but ends in a flat or flush cut end.  The "head" of the head pin holds the beads in place, the wire tail of the head pin is used to make the loop on the opposite end.  You can view a selection of head pins here.

A bead dangle is made by sliding one or more beads onto the head pin.  With the head pin held vertically, with the head on the bottom and the wire tail point up, push the beads to the bottom against the head of the head pin and grasp the wire tail just above the beads with your chain nose or bent chain nose pliers.  Then bend the wire to an angle of about 80 degrees.  Now grasp the wire tail near this bend with your round nose pliers and make an eye loop in the wire.  Visit here to see how to make this loop and cut the wire.  Another approach to making this loop is to make a wrapped loop instead of a simple eye loop.  This is a more advanced technique and is described in detail in our online book on jewelry making called "Wire Design Basics".

Let us start with a simple definition of a bead dangle.  A bead dangle is one or more beads hanging from a jewelry component like an earring body.  You can view a simple bead dangle at right.  In most cases, beads will be strung on a head pin to make the bead dangle.  Finally, a bead dangle may have a wrapped loop at the top like the one shown at right, or they may have an open loop at the top like the large bead in the center of the earrings shown at left.  The bead dangle is a very important jewelry making skill because we use it so often.  In fact, being able to make a bead dangle may be the one skill that differentiates a rank beginner from an advanced beginner.

Our approach for making a bead dangle is slightly different from the approach that was commonly taught 15 years ago.  This modification is based upon the fact that we have developed some new bent chain nose pliers, with thinner tips that we call fine bent chain nose pliers.  In order to be successful with our approach you need bent chain nose pliers with tips that are about 1mm wide.  You also need round nose pliers and a second pair of chain nose or bent chain nose pliers.  The steps involved in making a bead dangle are described starting below.

Step 1:  Thread a head pin through your beads or beads. 

Step 2:  Push the bead all the way to the bottom of the head pin (touching the "head" of the head pin. 

Step 3:  Grasp the head pin in your bent chain nose pliers immediately above the bead as shown at right.  The distance that you grasp the head pin from the tips of the jaws of your pliers will determine where the loop in the bead dangle begins.  We want this distance to be the same for all bead dangles in a particular jewelry item, so please notice where on your pliers you gripped the head pin.  On your second bead dangle, you will want to grip the head pin at the same point on your pliers.

 






Step 1 to Making a Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique





Step 2 to Making a Head Pin Jewelry Making Technique
Step 3 to Making a Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

 

Step 4:   Using your thumb, while gripping the head pin firmly in your pliers, push the wire over to an angle of 80 to 90 degrees as shown at right.  Push with your thumb close to the jaws of the pliers so that the bend will be sharp and not rounded.  

Step 5:  When the bend is completed your head pin and bead should appear as shown at left.

 





Step 5 to Making a Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique
Step 4 to Making a Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique  
Step 4 Step 5  

 

Step 6:  Now we need to begin the process of making a loop in the head pin, centered above the bead.  Using your round nose pliers, grip the head pin on the longer, horizontal wire segment, but as close to the 80-90 degree bend in the wire as possible.  See the picture below-left.

Step 7:  Transfer your round nose pliers from your dominant hand to your non-dominant hand.  Using the thumb on your dominant hand, push the wire up and over the top jaw of your round nose pliers as shown below center.  You can not complete the loop in the wire in one step because the lower jaw of the pliers is in the way.  (When you are beginning it is better to make this loop larger rather than smaller.  Grasp the wire closer to the hinge of your round nose pliers, further from the tip, to make a larger loop.)

Step 8:  At this point, we need to re-orientate our grip on the head pin so that we will have room to complete the loop.  Loosen your grip on the pliers enough to allow you to rotate the head pin as shown below-right.  Once the head pin is in the position shown, grip the head pin firmly.  Please note that to make the best possible loop, you will want to grip the head pin at the same point in the jaws of the pliers in both steps 7 and 8. 






Step 6 Step 7 Step 8

Step 9 to Making a Bead Dangle Jewelry Making TechniqueStep 9:   Now, while holding your pliers in your non-dominant hand, use the forefinger on your dominant hand to push the wire to complete the loop.  See the picture at right for how the wire component should appear after you have pushed the wire to complete the loop.  Step 10 to Making a Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique

Step 10:  Remove the wire component from your pliers.  At this point the head pin with bead should appear as shown at left.  Frequently at this point, you will notice that the loop is not centered above the bead.  In those cases, re-insert the loop on one of the jaws of your round nose pliers and slide it down the pliers until the entire loop is touching the pliers.  At that point, you can twist the loop to the left or to the right until the loop is centered above the bead. 

Step 11:  At this point you can choose if you want to make an open loop bead dangle or a wrapped loop bead dangle.  You can view an open loop bead dangle, below-left and a wrapped loop bead dangle below center.  If you choose to make the open loop bead dangle, you would cut the excess wire at the point where it starts to overlap, as shown below-right.  Once you've cut the excess wire, you have essentially completed the open loop bead dangle.  In order to add that dangle to a piece of jewelry, you would use your bent chain nose pliers to twist the loop up, allowing it to be added to the jewelry item.  Once it is in position, then you would twist the loop down to close the open loop.  That would complete the process of making and using an open loop bead dangle. 

Open Loop Wrapped Loop Cutting the Excess for an Open Loop

Step 12 Making a Wrapped Loop Bead Dangle Jewelry Making TechniqueStep 12:   The wrapped loop bead dangle, is stronger and more permanent than an open loop bead dangle.  After the wire is wrapped closed, that bead dangle will remain in that position until it is cut off.  For this reason, when making a wrapped loop bead dangle, you need to put the bead dangle in its final position before you begin wrapping it closed.  In the picture at right you can view how the wire component was positioned prior to wrapping.  Sometimes you may find that using your pliers to open the loop slightly will make it easier to position the wire component.  Step 13 to Making a Wrapped Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique

Step 13:  Now we need to grip the loop in the jaws of our fine bent chain nose pliers and hold the loop firmly.  By holding the loop in our pliers while we wrap the wire around itself, we preserve the round shape of the loop.  See the picture at left for how you should grip the loop with your pliers.  Step 14 to Making a Wrapped Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique

Step 14:  At this point you are ready to wrap the wire around itself.  Hold your bent chain nose pliers in your non-dominant hand and with the fingers of your dominant hand push the wire to begin wrapping.  One important thing while you are wrapping is to keep the wire tail perpendicular to the wire you are wrapping around as you wrap.  Step 15 to Making A Wrapped Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique

Step 15:  Continue wrapping until you have filled almost all of the space between the bead and the loop at the top of the bead dangle.  Again, keep the wires perpendicular for the entire wrap as this will allow a tight wrap without gaps.  Step 16 to Making a Wrapped Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique

Step 16:  When you have completed the wrap you will still have some excess wire that you will need to cut.  Cut the wire with the flat side of your flush cutter toward the bead dangle so that you won't have a sharp end left on your wire.  Cut as close to the bead dangle as your cutter will allow.

 

Making a Bead Dangle Jewelry Making TechniqueStep 17:   The final step in making a wrapped bead dangle is to squeeze and twist the small cut end of the wire flat.  This step requires two pair of chain nose pliers.  One pair of chainStep 17 A to Making a Wrapped Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique nose pliers is required to hold the loop in the wire just as we did in step 13  The second pair of chain nose pliers is used to squeeze and twist the very short cut end of the wire flat.  In the picture at left, the pliers at the bottom hold the loop while the pliers on the top squeeze and twist the cut end of the wire until it is flat.   The end result is the finished wrapped bead dangle shown at right. 

 

 



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