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March 22, 2014

Making Spiral Bead Caps

Beads With Hats?

I've always been stumped when it comes to using bead caps.

How to Make Spiral Wire Bead Caps: Lisa Yang's Jewelry BlogI have several different styles that I've collected over the years - mostly bali style sterling silver, but whenever I go to use them, they always end up looking strange to me.  

Like my beads are wearing little hats. Hats that don't fit right.

So, like most of my recent projects, I decided to tackle multiple demons with one projects - the problem of how to use bead caps and have them look good AND how to make bead caps with a wire spiral.

The picture of the carnelian bead is from a very old project of mine - a simple pair of earrings.  The individual components are all pretty - but together - ugh!

How to Make Spiral Bead Caps

This is so simple, I'm sure you can figure it out, especially after yesterday's post on how to make perfect wire spirals - but here's a link to a fabulous free tutorial to make wire spiral bead caps from the Rena Klingenberg's Jewelry Making Journal (just in case).

Oh - I should also mention, I didn't 100% follow this tutorial for most of my bead caps.  

Love these wire spiral bead caps! Free Tutorial at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I followed Rena's instructions for the first four bead caps (above), but her method of doming the bead caps by poking the round nose pliers through the center of the spiral didn't work well for me.  It was very time consuming.  The results are very nice though.

For my spiral bead caps, I used 18g round copper wire - my new favorite thickness.  Each bead caps uses 1.5 inches of wire, so I cut about 20 pieces of wire.  That was a big mistake.  

How to Make Wire Spiral Bead Caps: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Yesterday, I worked off the roll and it was so easy to wrap each spiral until I didn't want to wrap anymore.  When I pre-cut the wire, I couldn't finish wrapping the end because the wire is too thick and difficult to shape when you reach the end.  So - my bead caps were a little smaller than I anticipated.

How to Make Wire Spiral Bead Caps: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I was also a little sloppy on the centers - but when you think about it, it shouldn't matter since there will be an eye pin through the middle.  I did angle cut the outer wire end and file it smooth since you are likely to see that end, and it could catch on clothing.

I want to make some of the spiral bead caps! Free tutorial, DIY at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

These are some of my spiral bead caps after I have domed them using my steel doming block from Harbor Freight.  Just a few quick stress reducing whacks - and the shape was good and they were ready for the tumbler.

Time to Try On the Bead Hats Caps for Size

Handmade spiral wire bead caps. Free tutorial, DIY at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

And here they are!  Big sigh of relief because I think they fit great and look really good with the beads.

Cute wire spiral bead caps - Free tutorial, DIY at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Here's another angle.  

Neither of these feel as awkward as the silver cap with carnelian bead in the first picture.  I wonder why?  Let me know if you can figure it out.

Learn to make wire spirals and bead caps - Free DIY tutorial at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Here's the whole mess of goodies from today and yesterday fresh out of the tumbler.  

Tonight I will try to finish something (don't know what yet) using the bead caps. So happy with the way these turned out so far.  I think they would be awesome in blackened steel wire too.


  1. Ah hah! Here I'd always though they were made by doing the regular wire-wrapping OF the bead and then wrapping the rest of the wire AROUIND the bead in that concentric circle to make the bead caps, and I was in double-trouble if the bead hole meant I had to use 22 or even 24 gauge wire. Sheeshkabobs. This is so simple! Thanks, Lisa.

    1. You're so funny. I think you can do both. This way is probably a little more work making the cap, but a little easier to connect your beads, and a little more flexible with what wire you can use.

  2. The 'hat' doesn't look like it fits your faceted bead because the edges of the cap don't contact the bead. That is because the bead is not truly round. Due to the type of faceting, it is essentially a fat olive shape. Your cap doesn't contact at the edges
    Bead caps generally look better if worn as knitted beanies or bowlers rather than coolie hats or lampshades. :-)
    Try a cap size that will allow contact with the bead on the edges, and you'll probably be happier.

    1. A great analysis Perri! It took me a few days to try it, but what you say is true. The bead caps do look better if they contact the bead at the edges.

      Since I'm not a hat person, I had to look up all the different types of hats you named to make sure they were what I thought they were! :b

  3. Hi Lisa. I won the Craftsy class giveaway. I just wanted to say thank you x

    1. Yay Wendy! I hope you enjoy it! I have really enjoyed some of their classes and learned some neat projects. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  4. So, how do you use the doming tool exactly? These look so neat and tidy, I look forward to trying.

    1. Good question! I'll have to write a post about using a dapping block and punches to dome metal. It's fun.

  5. You said you put them in a tumbler. What kind of tumbler?