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August 06, 2014

How to Make Beaded Memory Wire Hoop Earrings: Free Tutorial

Remember when? 

Memory wire bracelets - do you remember when those were popular?

Twisty beaded bracelets that
wrapped several times and gave the look of multiple bracelets.

Yeah - me neither!

Well, maybe I do remember, but just like so many other jewelry fads, I let it slip right by me without ever  owning one.  At some point, I did buy a coil of memory wire, and promptly used them to ruin what were my good wire cutters at the time.

Somehow, just like making stretch bracelets, memory wire has come full circle for me (pun not intended - but you have to admit, it's a little funny the way that fits - memory wire, full circle... OK, never mind.)

Memory wire is not like you remember it.

My first roll was steel gray and heavy duty.  Not only did it ruin my cutters, it was a bear to make a loop in.  On a recent trip to Michaels, I found Beadalon Memory Wire.  (Insert Angel's singing here).

OMG!! This memory wire is beautiful - and thin - and comes in an assortment pack.

It's too interesting for me to pass up (which if you've ever gone to a craft or bead store with me - applies to huge categories of goodies).

So, now I have the wire, but I can't stand the thought of memory wire bracelets because I have a stack of freshly made elastic stretchy bracelets sitting in front of me that I still have a bit of denial and guilt over loving.


Look at those perfect round loops of wire - hmmm...hoops of wire.  Yes, that's it!  Hoops they shall be.

To get started, go find your husband's (or boyfriend's or Dad's) wire cutters.  Yup - those heavy duty ones.  Or if you're smarter than I am, go and buy the right cutters like these ones:  Beadalon Memory Wire Shear.  Yes, if you've love your husband, boyfriend or father, you should probably do that.

Cut the wire so you have enough of an overlap so that when you make a loop on each side of the wire, they will line up.  Having extra wire is ok - because you can always trim the wire to size when you are done stringing beads.  Make a loop on one end of the circle to keep the beads on.

You can use your regular round nose pliers for this loop - but be gentle.  Did I really say to be gentle with memory wire?!  Yes - because the silver coating can scrape off to reveal the copper core underneath.  And, it no longer takes an act of God (or Congress) to make a loop in memory wire.

String your beads.  I am using 4mm crystals and faceted fancy jasper beads on the bracelet sized memory wire (2.25 inch diameter).  These are going to be big showy hoops.

Add as many beads as you like.  I could have stopped here - but I didn't!

When your beads are all on, close the loop on the other side of the hoop, trying to get them to align when the hoop is in its resting position (i.e. not stretched out).  The picture above is perfect - if I do say so myself!

Add jump rings to keep the hoops closed and to attach an ear wire.  I used two jump rings to give these earrings lots of swing.

I also made 20g sterling silver french earring hooks.

All done!  These earrings won't be overlooked.

But if you're not all that showy, try the smaller memory wire loops that are about 1.25 inches in diameter.

I love these hoop earrings! I have so many piles of beads that I am dying to try this with.

And I still have two more sizes of memory wire that I haven't touched.  A small ring size and a larger size meant for neck wires.  If you have any ideas for those, let me know.

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  1. Rosanne MooreAugust 06, 2014

    Oh Lisa! I feel like I am inside a time capsule. First the stretch bracelets, which I still make and wear, in your previous post. Now memory wire bracelets, of which there are at least four currently in my jewelry box. I have missed a few fads over the past decades, though. I prefer to think of myself as liking classics with a contemporary (or not) twist.

    Anyway, I too struggled with that older memory wire, especially finishing the ends so they would be comfortable to wear. I didn’t try the necklace or ring wire. My best luck was with a thinner gauge that I used with shell heishi and turquoise or other gemstone chips and beads. The wire made it easy to string the small beads. When I loaded the bracelet with heavier gemstone and silver beads, it became a bit unwieldy for multiple wraps.

    I didn’t think about them much until I recently found a variation made by Spring Street in a discount department store. It was a twelve wire cuff, with the memory wires looped around a straight piece of wire at each end and two twisted fine wire separators to keep the strands flat. The color caught my eye---shades of sage green, beige, dusty pale pink, with glints of gold. It was mostly seed beads, with larger beads to provide visual interest. It looked to have a lot of plastic beads, so at first I wasn’t interested. But I tried it on and was amazed at how lightweight and comfortable it was. I bought it. I probably wouldn’t have thought of this construction technique on my own.

    The bracelet also made me think more carefully about my attitude towards plastic (or resin, or whatever they call the pricier jewelry). If a piece of jewelry isn’t comfortable, I won’t wear it much. This cuff was so comfortable. So I’ll keep the weight factor in mind and try to lighten up with wood, amber, seed beads, and whatever else I have in my stash.

    Thanks for reminding me of younger days!

    1. Rosanne, I'm glad I can take you on this trip down memory lane! And I also appreciate that you share your changing views on the types of material that are used in jewelry. I have always liked practical, wearable jewelry - but now lightweight is also a criteria I look for. As much as I love gemstones - too many can make the jewelry uncomfortably heavy - either as earrings or bracelets. I agree that lucite, metal coated plastic, seeds, wood and glass beads can all be great options, provided they are made with good quality materials.

      Thanks so much for reading my blog and giving your feedback.

  2. Lisa - just to reassure you your e-mails are coming through, your posts are beautiful and I love admiring your work. These earrings are stunning.
    Have a lovely day.
    Wren x

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you are getting and enjoying my emails. I love your blog too. Your photos are inspiring - so beautiful!
      Best -

  3. I hadn't realised memory wire bracelets had such a terrible stigma. I should probably take off the one I made last month as I'm clearly such a fashion pariah... I don't think I will though as I don't understand the need to follow trends and abandon them the second everyone else does too.

  4. Hmmm. I didn't think anyone raised them to the level of a stigma or even gave the bracelets themselves a negative connotation. They were just a very popular trend at one point that I didn't partake in - and I recently gave a second look. There are lots of gorgeous memory wire bracelets and you can't argue with how easy they are to put on and take off. However, I think the material to make them are much nicer than the first time I tried about 10 or more years ago. And I agree, I think you should enjoy making and wearing jewelry regardless of what the current trend is.

  5. I found the Beadalon memory wire, and LOOOOVE it! So much easier to work with than before. I'm using it for a small suncatcher, as well as some jewelry. I made earrings similar to yours, but looped the 2 ends together & then put a jump ring on to connect my earwire.

  6. I found the Beadalon memory wire, and LOOOOVE it! So much easier to work with than before. I'm making a small suncatcher, and all kinds of jewelry. I made earrings similar to yours, but closed the 2 ends together, and then added a jump ring for my ear wires.

  7. No matter how careful I am when making a loop, the coating on this wire always seems to flake off.

    1. Ugh. I hate it when that happens. Have you tried the beadalon memory wire? I am not very gently with wire and have had good results. Or maybe it's your tools. Do they have smooth or serrated jaws? I like serrated jaws for grasping, but they definitely cause marks in the wire, so I have had to learn to use the smooth jaws. I will even use a little sandpaper to smooth out the side edges - just in case. Good Luck! I hope you can get it to not flake.