October 29, 2016

Which Way Should the Loops Face in Wire Wrapped Bead Chain?

Wire wrapped loops - they are quite simply one of my favorite things to make.


I'm sure there are people who make wire wrapped bead chain without any concern for the direction of the loops.  I know I've tried, but I just can't believe that there isn't a right way to do it. (Isn't there always a right way to do things? - No, there really isn't, but I digress...)

In any event, I have honestly spent years experimenting with the different ways to make chain trying to decide when I make a link - should the loops face the same way and line up with each other, should they face the opposite way from each other (I guess that would be perpendicular for the geometry buffs amongst us), or would anyone even notice, so who cares?  My conclusion is that they should face the same way.


First, if you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, I'm referring to chains made by connecting links with a bead centered between wire wrapped loops.  Wire wrapped loops are just like they sound - a loop on the wire followed by the wire end wrapped under the neck of the loop. The link above will take you to a tutorial on how to make wire wrapped loop chains.

Next, should you even care which way the loops go?

There are two reasons I can come up with - aesthetics and wear.  Aesthetics - does it look better one way or the other?  Wear - does it last longer one way or the other?  There could be at least one other reason - is it easier or quicker to make one way or another?

I started off always making my loops line up the same way.  That's the way I taught myself.  It's easy, looks nice and neat and they wear well.  In the days since I started serious jewelry making, I have made at least a couple of hundred of these gemstone bracelets and most are made that way.  They rarely break, but will eventually just from regular wear and tear, the necks eventually bend and break.


So, after a couple of years making and selling them like that, I decided chain loops usually sit opposite each other when they link and I should try making the loops perpendicular.  I switched. The picture above shows some well worn bracelets that are made with loops perpendicular.


The difference is barely noticeable (although I do notice it), I think they tangle ever so slightly more but they wear the exact same as best as I can tell.  In the picture above, only the turquoise chain in the middle is made with alternating (perpendicular) loops.  The others have loops facing the same way.  These are 26g wire, so it is understandably a little hard to see.

At some point, when that change didn't make much of a difference, I threw out all of my OCD tendencies and just started wrapping, concentrating on each loop as an individual without caring about the prior or next one.  Gosh - sounds like this would be the easiest option - and it was.  But it offended my sense of order.  So, even though it was ever so slightly quicker, I just can't do it.  (no picture of these!)


So, why did I conclude that the loops should face the same way?  First, I think they do look better and do wear ever so slightly better.  But most of all, they are just easier to make this way.  Aligning the loops perpendicular takes more effort because it is harder to see if they are aligned that way.  Checking if the two loops are facing front and to the side is relatively easy to eyeball and adjust.  Period.  Simple and quick.


Why not go with the any loop, any way option?  Heck - if it works for you, I say go for it.  Honestly, which ever of these works for you, you should stick with - and I'd love to hear your opinions and preferences.

What I still haven't addressed is why I was making these wire wrap gemstone bracelets again.  And it's important because it may give you some sales ideas right before the holiday.

My always trendy senior in high school daughter recently decided these were super cool and has been wearing a little stack of bracelets.  Well, then her friends, who are committed to play softball at a variety of colleges noticed them and realized these would look great in their school colors.  And who I am I to argue?

So far I've made bracelet in Arizona State (ASU) colors, garnet and citrine, and Cal Poly SLO green - but I made an extra citrine for the secondary gold color - but I think it's a little over powering.

I'm sure I'll have a few more orders as soon as I deliver these because they really are a great way to display school colors in an elegant way.


And just because, here's the bracelet that I'm wearing right now.  It's multi-gemstone, clear quartz, amethyst, aquamarine, several colors of green tournaline, green amethyst and smoky quartz.  Somewhat random, but it has a beachy casual feel that I really like.

I guess I'll also throw it out there that I picked up this strand of gems for 75 cents during one of Fire Mountain Gems sales.  All of the stones came from the same strand - and I still have enough to make a couple of more bracelets.  I'll cover the topic of stocking up on gems on sale another day...


I wear the gemstone bracelet stacked with this tubular herringbone bracelet from my last post.  I'm really pleased with the way this bracelet has worn.  It's very sturdy, and looks as good as the day I put it on, which is amazing because I've rarely taken it off.  Truth be told, I made the loop a little tight so it's a pain to take it on and off.

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3 comments :

  1. THANKS! I've been asking this very question for years! No one has ever had an answer. I love that you've researched this and come to some conclusions. 👍👍👍

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    1. Yes - it took a long time since I had to try each method for a while and then wear the jewelry for some period of time to come to any conclusions.

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  2. I have started wire working not too long ago and have been making these loops. What really bothers me is that there is still wiggle room for the bead to move around just a tiny tiny bit. It's because when I smoosh the wire with a flat nose plier, I need some very tiny bit of room to do that. Once all is done, My bead doesn't sit as tight as I would want it to. Is this a normal thing or I just need to work on my skills more?

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