DIY: Leather & Chain Kumihimo Braid

KumihimoBracelets1 BaublesAndBeads.comAncient technique meet contemporary materials in this great Kumihimo braided bracelet design. Mixing leather and chain has never been so easy; add a flashy clasp and 30 minutes from now you will have yourself a new favorite bracelet. A bit of wire wrapping experience is helpful to get professional looking results but the braid itself is super easy when using the handy braiding disk.Kumihimo Braid Materials Baubles & Beads

Securing the First Side of Cords & ChainSecuring Cords Baubles & BeadsStep 1: Cut all cords and chains to length.

Step 2: Tie an overhand knot at the center point in each of the leather cords.

Step 3: Using a length of the wire, feed the wire through the center of the knot on the cords and the center link of the chains. Position the cords & chain about 3” from the end of the wire.

Step 4: Cross over the two sides of the wire directly above the cords and chain. Secure the cord & chain to the wire by wrapping the short wire end around the longer tightly, two times. Cut the short wire tail flush against the wraps. The ends are now secured.

Wire Wrapping the End Cap in PlaceWireWrappingEnds Baubles&Beads

Step 5: Feed an end cap onto the end of the wire, hiding the wire connection.

Step 6: Feed on a daisy spacer bead for embellishment (optional).

Step 7: Make a wire wrapped loop on the end of the wire. (Later we will connect the clasp with jump rings.) Cut the remaining wire flush against the wire wrap.

Preparing the Cords and Chains for Braiding
There are four large black dots on the disk. These dots signify the starting position of each of the cords & chains. Our braiding material will be split up into 2 pairs of cords and 2 pairs of chains that will be positioned opposite of each other. Notice how the braiding disk has little slots that are numbered, while braiding we will moving along the disk in a counter clockwise fashion.StartingPointofBraid Baubles & BeadsStep 8: Position the secured end into the center of the disk, pointing away from you, and divide the cords and chain into pairs.

Step 9: Position the cords into the slots beside the top and bottom dots.

Step 10: Position the chains into the slots beside the dots on both sides.

Braiding the Cords & Chains
When braiding, try to maintain a consistent tension. The resulting braid should be centered in the middle of the disk hole. The resulting braid will be very tight and will require loosening for accurate length measurement.Step11-12 Baubles & BeadsStep 11: Bring the top right cord downward and position it into the bottom right slot of the disk.

Step 12: Bring the bottom left cord upward and position it into the top left slot of the disk. Turn the disk one quarter turn to the left (clockwise).Step13-14 Baubles & BeadsStep 13 Bring the top right chain downward and position it into the bottom right slot of the disk.

Step 14: Bring the bottom left chain upward and position it into the top left slot of the disk. Turn the disk one quarter turn to the left (clockwise).

Step 15: Repeat Steps 11-14 until your braid measures approximately 2.5 inches in length. Always complete the braid with the chains crossing over.LoosenTheBraid Baubles & BeadsStep 16: With the braid still positioned on the braiding disk, gently roll the braid between your fingers to loosen it. It should nearly double in length depending on the tension of the braid. The clasp and findings take up a lot of length in this design. An 8 inch bracelet is made up of about 5.25 inches of braid, ideal for a 6.5 inch wrist. Adjust the length of the braid to fit your needs.

Securing the 2nd Side of the BraidSteps18-20 Baubles & BeadsStep 17: Keep the braid on the disk. Tie the top right cord and the bottom right cord together into a tight double knot. Tie the two remaining cords together in the same way. Apply glue to both of the knots and allow the glue to dry.

Step 18: Cut the ends of the leather cords against the knots. Apply a bit of glue to the cut ends for added strength. Give the glue time to dry.

Step 19: Remove the chains from the braiding disk. Gather all four chains upward, above the leather cord knots.Finishing2ndSide BaublesAndBeads.comStep 20: Using a length of the wire, feed the wire through one link of each chain directly above the knots. Cut off the excess chain.

Step 21: Position the chains about 3” from the end of the wire. Bend the wire in half where the chains are attached to the wire. Secure the chain to the wire by wrapping the short wire end around the longer wire tightly, two times. Cut the short wire tail flush against the wraps. All ends are now secured.

Step 22: Repeat Steps 5-7 to position the end cap in place.AttachTheClasp BaublesAndBeads.comStep 23: Connect the clasp to the wire wrapped loops with jump rings.

Hooray! You’ve made your first Kumihimo braid. For your next project may we suggest using all leather or all chain in contrasting colors.

Happy Thursday -Chainmaille Castles

castle01_05[1] Just thought you needed to know about this chainmaille castle. From chainmailbasket.com

The incredible, inventive bead work of rock star designer Miguel Ases

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Oh, Miguel, how do I love thee? Let me count the chain links on one of your earrings.

I found out about this artist when I was working for a designer and browsing a flash sale website called Max & Chloe: they have tons of fashion jewelry and on trend items, but I was pleasantly surprised to find his complex, intricate, and totally original work amid bibs and personalized “bling”.

His pieces are beaded with a technique I can’t quite identify, it has elements of brick stitch but with out the traditional base, and seems to attach beads with thread wrapped around wire forms, sort of wherever it’s needed, in order to forge these swooping ovals and teardrop shapes, and some more free form than that, while incorporating teeny bits of chain and gemstones through out.

He does bracelets and necklaces too of course, but they are so very complex and involved that they don’t seem to translate quite as well in pictures, so I’ve only included my favorite earrings here.

One thing I particularly appreciate about his work is his palette. There are so many glorious color combinations, coupled with his unique assembly, that just wow me. And I really love that his price point isn’t so terribly out of range for us ordinary folk: sure, it would be a splurge, but not like something only the truly wealthy can enjoy.

I am in complete awe of the breadth of his collection, in color, style, and size. It’s so varied, yet I can see connections between even very different pieces, in the way he puts things together, chooses colors, and the forms the beads take as they marry in thread paths. I’m so in love with his work, I just want to go straight to the studio and try to humbly imitate.

See for yourself and be inspired.

—Julia

http://www.miguelases.com/

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Celie Fago’s Amazing PMC and Polymer Jewelry

The Art of Celie Fagocelie-fago-051_med[1] I stumbled on this artist’s website through an email from one of our vendors, just clicking around and found her exquisite work amid many beautiful artist profiles. I love the combination of colors, textures, and different materials. She uses polymer clay in a way I’ve never seen, carving it like wood or bone, and with intricate details of stroke and design that give a rich and full dimension to her pieces. Additionally, she incorporates unexpected elements such as wires, fiber and glass beads—making some of the most unique bracelets and pendants I’ve ever seen!

Like many artists with a comprehensive vision such as hers, Celie is a self taught artist. She’s been working in different mediums for over 35 years and has exhibited worldwide, including in Japan at the Mitsubishi Material Corporation’s special collections, the company who invented and manufactured Precious Metal Clay in the early ’90s. She has authored a book on keum boo, instructed at different workshops and institutions, and even offers classes at her home studio in Vermont. What a wonder woman! So inspiring.

See the gallery below.


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Her website is celiefago.com for more pictures and a bio!

–Julia

Check out this unbelievable designer

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There are so many wonderful designs from this brand, BrokenFab, where do I even begin? The colors, the fresh shapes and motifs, it makes me feel like I’ve entered a wonderland of texture and style. There’s obviously a whimsical approach to design, but clearly a rich, informed palette and an eye for geometric splendor. I never knew I loved neon until now!

From designer Fabienne Morel’s bio:

“Heavily influenced by ‘80s and ‘90s club and pop culture, as well as post-modernist design, the intricately beaded rocaille pieces that Fabienne creates are rich in historical references. Strong geometrics recall classic album covers as well as an exploration of spiritualism, making for edgy, distinctive pieces that are wearable on a daily basis.”

I’m so in love!

See more delicious pieces:

earrings_11E023[1]Brokenfab-12N004[1]

Brokenfab12E001[1]E009-shop[1]

See more at http://www.brokenfab.com/1482672

TierraCast Tour

One of my first purchases from an official bead store was in the mid 1990’s, at a bead store in Cambridge, MA. It was a small antique silver plated goddess charm by TierraCast. I still own that charm as at the time it was just too special to actually use. Across the country in Berkeley, CA Jim & Lisa Kaufman’s bead store, Baubles & Beads, was in its infancy, and Julia, our current store manager, was a high school student who shopped at their store. None of us knew one another, we were all just beaders who could never imagine that nearly two decades later we would all be working together at Baubles & Beads and going on a field trip tour the TierraCast facilities. TCI-Logo-WebChances are if you have ever made jewelry with base metal beads or components you too have introduced TierraCast products into your own collection. It was with great pleasure and much anticipation we were given the opportunity to tour the factory and learn more about the production of those fabulous finds and meet the people who create them.

We were met by Julia wearing a fabulous ring made by Tania Skevos, a former store manager of Baubles & Beads who is now quite famous.

We were met by Julie who wearing a fabulous ring made by Tania Skevos, a former store manager of Baubles & Beads who is now quite famous.

Upon our arrival we met up with Julie, our ambassador for the day. Her bubbly enthusiasm immediately struck a chord with us as we too are excited to share the story of growth and change of another small business.

Meet Tracy, she is TierraCast's marketing guru.

Meet Tracy, she is TierraCast’s jewelry designer and marketing maven.

She began by introducing us to several people we had interacted with on the phone, through email, and whose names we’d recognize from years of doing business together.

Alan Joseph, one of the company owners and product designer, was our tour guide and he guided us through the entire impressive compound, in order of production from design idea to finished piece. Every piece is made under the same house except for the plating including: design, production, manufacturing, sales, and marketing.

Digital rendering meet the finished piece.

Digital rendering meet the finished piece.

Alan works entirely through graphic design templates on his computer when designing the beautiful and detailed signature TierraCast pieces. He has a background in fine art, so the process starts with that in mind. The products go through rigorous testing periods before they make it to you, the beader. Only 1 in 10 design ideas actually make it into the product line.Scotts BenchAfter all design specifics have been developed digitally he then hands the work off to his team of metalsmith geniuses to begin the task of making a model.  Above is a picture of Scott’s bench, he trained at Tiffany. Be sure to zoom in on the pic to get a good look at all his tools. The window directly in front of his bench looks out to a tranquil garden setting, now that’s what we call a good day’s work! microscopePerfection is required, evident by the microscope in the room. Once the piece has gone through the intensive and fastidious design process, they begin production by making a mold.stackofmoldsMolds are made by pressing silicone in a steel plate that is heated. We were impressed by the organization in the mold making room. Notice in the background of the photo above how the finished molds are arranged. There is a whole back room filled with molds.MoldsEach mold only has a lifespan of about 300 uses. The mold maker was on vacation the day of our tour. He just celebrated 25 years at TierraCast. Definitely a sign of a good company to work for.pewtersolidTierraCast excels in the use high quality pewter. The standard for lead content in culinary pewter is 500ppm. TierraCast uses a pewter alloy called Britannia that contains lead in the minute level of less than 100 ppm. Most pieces have about 25-35ppm of lead content.MoltenMetalWe step over to the next room and find a vat of molten metal next to the casting machine. casterWomanRocksThe caster pours the molten metal into the opening of the mold located in a centrifuge. Centrifugal force pushes the molten metal evenly throughout the mold making for consistent results. Angela, the caster pictured above is one of the fastest casters at TierraCast.buttonsOnATreeOnce the caster has produced a large quantity of product they then simply break the pieces off the “tree”. It is a testament to the fine craftsmanship of the mold maker that no hand finishing is required after removing the product from the tree.removalofbeadsHow dreamy that the day we visited they were casting one of our best-selling items: the Buddha Bead.  A short walk away is another building that houses the finishing room.HomemadeTumblerMy little Lortone tumbler is nothing compared to TierraCast’s homemade version. These drums are filled with cast pieces and different tumbling media to help quickly remove any burrs or imperfections. Once the pieces are tumbled they are sent off-site to be plated. Plating is the only process that does not happen in-house. Upon return from the plater, TierraCast applies chemical antiquing as needed.fillingorders

When we opened the door to the order fulfillment office a blast of cold air struck us; a true sign of women working in here. This room was filled with drawer after drawer of beads, charms, pendants, bails, button, findings, clasps, earwires, oh my gosh I can’t list all of the wonder inside. Sorry the pic so so fuzzy but those ladies work fast!! julieandlisaThe conclusion of our tour left us time for photo ops with each other. Above is one of myself and Julie. We all know Julie well as she has been TierraCast’s sales rep for a long time. We often meet up at the bead shows in Tucson and Milwaukee. lkandjulieNext up is Lisa Kaufman , co-owner of Baubles & Beads, and Julie. Have we mentioned how fun Julie is?organizationAnd to finish us off we have Julia, our store manager, loving the tidiness of the entire place. Interestingly enough, between three of us photographing our tour, Jim Kaufman (the incredibly handsome co-owner of Baubles & Beads) never made it into any of our photos.

 

DIY -Mixed Metal Lotus Pendant

lotusdrops2Besides being super sultry against the skin, one of the things I love about this design is its simplicity to make and all the possibilities for customization. Once you make a pendant you’ll find yourself making a pair of earrings to match. There are many different component pieces out there just waiting for you to embellish them with beads and wire! Enjoy.

Tools Neededlotusmaterials

Flush Wire Cutters
Chain Nose Pliers, 2 pairs are helpful

Materials Needed
1 Lotus petal drop link
27 inches of 2mm rolo chain
11, 4mm jump rings
1, 5mm jump ring
1 Toggle clasp
Ten 2.5mm crystal rondelles
Five 2.5mm square beads
One foot of 26 gauge wire
Eight 2.25mm metal hex-cut spacer beads

Wiring the Beads to the Lotus Frame

Each segment of beads is attached to the frame with a 3 inch length of wire. The wire coils used to secure the beads to the frame wrap upward, toward the point of the frame, allowing for proper spacing between the bead rows. Steps1-2Step 1: Secure one end of the wire to the frame by laying the wire across the face of the frame and wrapping a 1″ tail around the frame, toward the top, three times. The resulting coil should be tight with each coil resting against the previous one.

Step 2: Using flush wire cutters, cut the wire tail off, close to the frame. If the wire end is sticking out, squeeze it down with a pair of chain nose pliers.

Step 3: String 3 crystal beads onto the wire and position the coil on the frame so that all three beads fit within the frame.Steps4-5Step 4: Secure the wire in place by wrapping it tightly around the frame three times, toward the top of the frame. Use the chain nose pliers to help pull the wire tight.

Step 5: Using flush wire cutters, cut the remaining wire close to the frame.addingbeadrowsStep 6: Continue adding rows of beads using the same techniques outlined in Steps 1 thru 5. Make certain that each row accommodates the beads within the spacing of the frame, adjust the number of beads if needed.

The pattern for each row is as follows:
Row 1: Three crystal beads (this row has been completed)
Row 2: Five 2.5mm square metal beads
Row 3: Seven crystal beads
Row 4: Eight Hex-cut beads

Adding the Chain Fringechainfringe

Step 1: Using wire cutters, cut the following measured length of chain: 2 pieces measuring 1/2″ each, 2 pieces measuring 3/4″ each, 2 pieces measuring 1″ each, 2 pieces measuring 1 1/4″ each, and 1 piece measuring 1 1/2″ in length.

Step 2: Organize the chains by size on your working surface so that the longest chain length is in the middle and the shortest lengths are on the outside edge. Organizing the chains ahead of time will make attaching them easier.

Step 3: Using chain nose pliers, attach the chain lengths to the bottom of the frame with a 4mm jump ring. Make sure to close the ring tight so that the chains do not fall off later.

Attaching the Necklaceaddingchain-clasp

Step 1: Using wire cutters, cut the remaining chain to 18″.

Step 2: Connect a 5mm jump ring to the top of the frame and feed the chain length through it.

Step 3: Connect the clasp to the last link of one end of the chain with a 4mm jump ring.

Step 4: Connect a 5mm jump ring into the last link of the opposite end of the chain.

 

WE LOVE READING YOUR COMMENTS!! Comment on this post for your chance to win a kit of materials to make your own. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on August 12th!

 

DIY -Chain Tassel Necklace

tasselnecklacesample2This tassel necklace has long been one of my “go-to” designs for whipping up a quick necklace to showcase my growing collection of rhinestone connectors. The double strand necklace helps to balance the fullness of the tassel fringe. Customize this design by using different styles of chain, mixing metal colors, adding additional chains to the tassel or playing with the length of chains used in the tassel.

Tools Neededmaterials3
Flush wire cutters
2 pairs of chain nose pliers
Beading awl
Ruler

Materials Needed
A rhinestone connector
40 inches of 1.5mm curb chain
5, 4mm jump rings
1, 6mm soldered jump ring
1 lobster clasp

Preparing the PendantMakingtheTasselPendantStep 1: Using wire cutters, cut four lengths of chain that measure 1″ long.

Step 2: Insert the tapered tip of the beading awl into the last link of each chain and use your fingers to force the link to stretch wider by pushing the link onto the wider point of the awl. *This is a great trick to use on any small soldered chain link to stretch out the link and make it large enough to accommodate jump rings.

Step 3: Using 2 pairs of chain nose pliers, attach each chain length to a 4mm jump ring. Close the ring tightly.

Step 4: Attach the jump ring from the previous step to the rhinestone connector with a new jump ring.

Attaching the Necklace

The necklace is made up of two 18″ chains and clasped together with a lobster claw and soldered ring. attachingthenecklaceStep 5: Cut two 18″ lengths of chain.

Step 6: Stretch the end links of both chains using the tapered tip of the beading awl.

Step 7: Attach both chains to the clasp set using a new jump ring. (One side will attach to the lobster claw and one side will attach to the soldered ring.)

Step 8: Using chain nose pliers, connect the two chains to the top ring of the rhinestone component with a new jump ring.

 

WE LOVE READING YOUR COMMENTS!! Comment on this post for your chance to win a kit of materials to make your own. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on August 5th!

 

DIY -Draped Fringe Pendant

drapechainpendantIn celebration of Baubles & Beads great July chain sale, I am excited to offer you another chain based project.  This one is super easy and super customizable.  Five lengths of chain are used to create a draped fringe around a centerpiece bead. The chain lengths can be made longer or shorter as needed to accommodate any size bead. I love how the spiral rope chain looks but with so many chains available, you can substitute just about any small link chain.

Tools Neededmaterials

Flush Wire Cutters
Chain Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers
Ruler

Materials Needed
2 1/2 feet of spiral rope chain -1.6mm
1 centerpiece bead -10mm (I used these)
1 eyepin -2″
2 jump rings -4mm or 6mm (21ga)
10 daisy spacer beads -3mm
1 clasp set -12mm or smaller

 

Stringing the Pendant Pattern

Step 1: Cut one piece of chain in each of the following lengths: 1″, 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″. These four pieces of chain will make up the fringe that surrounds the bottom of the bead.step02-03loopyfringe

Step 2: String the following pattern of beads onto the eyepin: 1 spacer bead, the 2.5” length of chain, 1 spacer, the 2” length of chain, 1 spacer bead, the 1.5” length of chain, 1 spacer bead, the 1” length of chain, 1 spacer bead, and the 10mm bead.

Step 3: On the opposite side of the 10mm bead, string: 1 spacer bead and the opposite end of the 1” chain. You will need to push the bead and the 1″ chain length closer to the open end of the pin in order to be able to feed the small chain on.

Step 4: Continue feeding the opposite end of the chains onto the pin, in order of length, with a new spacer bead strung in between each chain. After the opposite end of each chain has been fed on, finish the segment by stringing on a final spacer bead.

Making a Loop on the Opposite Side of the Eyepinstep04-06loopyfringeStep 1: Using the tip of the chain nose pliers, grab the wire against the last spacer bead strung. Bend the wire  against the edge of the tool making a 90 degree angle. (Using the tool this way will leave a small amount of space on the eyepin wire to allow the chains room to dangle freely.)

Step 2: Using flush wire cutters, cut the wire so that it measures about 1 centimeter from the bend.

Step 3: Using round nose pliers, gently shape the wire into a closed loop.

For an in-depth look at how to make simple loops, check out our archives on “How To Make a Simple Wire Loop”

Putting it All Togetherstep07-08loopyfringeStep 1: Cut two 8 inch lengths of chain.

Step 2: Using chain nose pliers, open one of the loops on the eyepin and attach a length of chain. Repeat on the opposite side.

Step 3: Attach each side of the clasp set to one of the opposite end of the chain with a jump ring.

WE LOVE READING YOUR COMMENTS!! Comment on this post for your chance to win a kit of materials to make your own. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on July 31st!

Congrats go out to Sue for being the lucky winner of a kit of materials to make her own necklace using this tutorial.

How To Make a Simple Wire Loop

simpleloopsampleThe simple wire loop is the foundation of all wire jewelry. The process of making simple loops will introduce you to the main jewelry tools and when put into practice, allow you to link beads together for necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Tools NeededtoolsforwireworkRound nose pliers are made up of two cylinder shaped jaws that taper to a small point. They are used to shape the wire into a loop shape. This tool should only be used when making a loop shape as the rounded jaws will dent and damage the wire if they are used to manipulate it in other ways.

Flush wire cutters are designed to provide a smooth flat cut across the wire. It is essential that each wire loop begin with a flush cut wire. Most flush cutters only cut flush on one side of the blade, the other side of the blade provides a bevel cut. A flush cut is achieved when the flat side of the cutting blades is facing the wire you want to keep.

Chain nose pliers consist of two jaws that are flat and smooth on the inside, rounded on the outside, and like round nose pliers, the jaws taper to a small point. Chain nose pliers are the real work horse when is comes to wire working tools. They are most commonly used to open and close loops and jump rings and make right angle bends.

Rulers are a wire workers best friend. Select one that features both metric and standard measurement.

Materials Needed
For simple loops we prefer practicing with half-hard 20 gauge wire. To learn more about wire sizes and hardness’s  check out our archived post on wire properties.

Making a Simple Loop

There are many different ways to make a simple loop. At the end of the day it is more about how your loops look, not how you went about making them. Please take care not to bend your wrist when shaping the loop or you can injure yourself. Instead rotate your arm until it can turn no further, release your grip on the wire, returning your arm to the starting position and then completing the loop in a second movement.

step1-3Step 1: Using chain nose pliers, make a 90 degree bend approximately 1 centimeter from the end of the wire.

Tip: Different measurements of wire will produce different sized loops.

Step 2: Using round nose pliers, hold the tip of the short wire end between the jaws of the pliers. With your other hand, grasp the longer side of the wire so that the thumbnail is under the 90 degree bend and the index finger is supporting the wire on the opposite side.

Tip: Finding the correct place to position the wire on the pliers can be challenging at first. The tapered jaws of round nose pliers allow one to make a variety of different sized loops and makes it easy to slide completed loops off the pliers. It may take several attempts to discover where on the pliers to make a loop. Once you find the perfect spot, mark the jaws of the pliers with a fine-tip Sharpie marker to keep you from guessing the next time.

Step 3: Begin shaping the wire into a loop by rolling the round nose pliers toward the right angle bend. (The resulting loop should always be shaped “on top of” the right angle bend.) Your arm will not be able to turn far enough to make the loop in one movement; it will take two separate movements to close the loop completely.

simpleloopIn our classroom we like to quip “you have to make 200 loops before you feel like you have made a good one.” Practice making this loop over and over until you feel comfortable making loops.

Making Wire & Bead Links

The trickiest part of making a simple loop on the other side of the bead is making a loop that looks exactly like the first one. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and mark your round nose pliers with a Sharpie to remind yourself where on the jaws of the pliers you made the first loop.  step4-6Step 4: String a bead onto the wire and position it against the loop.

Step 5: Using your thumb, push the wire against the top of the bead to create a 90 degree bend.

Step 6: Cut the wire so that it measures 1 centimeter long.Step7Step 7: Repeat Steps 2 & 3 above to complete the loop, only this time grasp the bead for leverage. Again, it will take two movements to completely close the loop.

Tip: When it comes to loops, consistency matters. It doesn’t matter if your loops are perpendicular to each other or parallel, so long as each link is the same. To adjust the alignment of a loop simply hold one loop with a pair of chain nose pliers and use your fingers to twist the opposite loop into the desired position.

Connecting Beads & Wire Links

Step8-9Step 8: Using chain nose pliers, grasp the open end of one of the loops.

Step 9: Twist the wire sideways, opening the loop just enough to feed the loop of another bead link into it.

Step 10: Using chain nose pliers, grasp the open end of the loop and gently coax it back into closed position.

That’s it! Repeat, repeat, repeat. To complete a piece of jewelry simply attach a clasp to the loops of the first and last bead link. 

 

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