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The Work Room is the Creative Journal of Wendy Sue where she shares her creative journey in all things handmade. The Work Room also offers an alternative to your typical jewelry making workshops. Scroll down to the end of the page to see how you can learn to make your unique piece of artisan jewelry online.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Ways to wrap a tear drop bead


Work Room chat:
Briolette is another bead shape similar to that of a tear drop except that briolette bead is flat on one side whilt tear drop shape is round all over. Therefore, as compared to the tear drop bead, briolette can lay flat nicely on a flat surface whereas the tear drop bead tend to roll around. One very interesting way of using briolette is joining a few of them together to form a floral motif where each briolette looks like the petals of a flower. Find out how it is done with wire here.


When I first started making jewellery, I was rather fascinated with the tear drop bead. I’ve always thought that it was a very elegant shape. However, I had a problem. I didn’t know how to join it.

Prior to much knowledge on wire wrapping, common sense told me that using a jump ring is the most appropriate method I know of at that time. But due to the shape of the bead, it wasn’t an easy task after all. I could hardly attach a small size jump ring such as a 4mm one to it. I would need bigger sized jump rings. Even a 5mm jump ring seemed to me to be pushing it a little.

The main reason I don’t like using jump ring to attach a tear drop bead is due to the finishing it gives. Since I would almost definitely need a bigger jump ring to do the job, the end product looked a bit unrefined to me. Unless of course if I could use a smaller jump ring. But that’s not too likely to be the case, isn’t it?

I couldn’t find the exact picture I want. This was the closest that I could find. Just imagine the round bead being a tear drop bead.

The Japanese beaders, I’ve noticed uses a head pin instead. Basically what they do is insert a head pin through the hole. The head will act as a stopper on one side preventing the bead from sliding off. The other end of the head pin is the bent upwards to form a loop.

Here is a picture for illustration.

I gave this a try myself.

Quite frankly, I’ll have to say that I don’t favour this method at all. I sort of stopped after making the bend. I’m so worried that it might break the tip off that I just couldn’t bring myself to go ahead and finished it with a loop.

If any of you have used the Swarovski crystal tear drop bead before, you should realize the crystal is almost as fragile as glass where they will splinter or break if more than necessary amount of pressure is exerted. I’ve experienced a handful of broken tear drop beads that I’m beginning to be wary of using the bead.

But of course, that was all before me using wires. Now that I’m using wire already, I basically categorized the ways I use to wrap a tear drop bead into 2 methods.

I call this the classic method because this is probably the method you’ll generally find printed in any beading books or magazines or even online beaders forum.

Considered as one of the basics in wirework.

Here is how you do it.

Slide your tear drop bead in.

Measure about 1” from the end of the wire.

With your chain nose plier, grip onto the wire.....

.... and make a 90 degrees angle turn upwards.

For convenience sake, some people may use a round nose plier for the job since you will be using it to make the loop and would rather save the hassle of changing pliers.

But I like to use a chain nose plier for this kind of job because I feel that it gives me a more precise angle than a round nose plier.

Slide your bead back down and grip onto the other end of the wire.

With your chain nose, make another 90 degrees turn upwards for this other end and cut off at a desired length.

But of course you can always pre cut the desired length of wire first. I’ve just got the knack of working out from the spool but some may find it a bit difficult to work around since the spool of wire is constantly in the way. This may be especially true for beginners. So, maybe it would be a better idea for you to pre cut the wires out first and then take it from there. ;)

You might however want to have one side longer than the other, just in case if you want to make a wrapped loop for your tear drop bead since the short one will only be used to make a few wraps as the midpoint of the loop.

One thing to note though is that when you were making the bend on both sides of the wire, don’t bend it too close to the bead. You should leave a small gap on both sides so that your tear drop bead could dangle nicely later on. Also, be careful not to exert too much pressure or you might break the tip as I have done so many times!

Now that you have wires on both side of the bead. What you are going to do next is to cross these two wires to form an X.

Similarly, you might not want to cross it too close to the tip because you should have enough space for you to grip with while wrapping.

Ok, so now you have two crossed wire. One of it will be one which you will form the loop with and the other to make the wrap at the midpoint.

With these two wires, you are going to form a 90 degrees angle at the top of the bead by turning one of the wires down to form the horizontal line......

I know the picture here is a bit misleading since it doesn't look horizontal here but I'm talking in the sense that the bead is in an upright position, where bead is at the bottom and wire above. Try visualizing it, ya! And then you'll get what I mean. ;)

........ and another up to form the vertical line.

It doesn’t matter which wire to form the horizontal or the vertical one.

The vertical one will be the one you will be making the loop with and the horizontal one the one that you will be making the wrap with.

Here’s the 90 degrees angle at the tip.

With your round nose, grip at the bottom of the wires. Well, you can also use a chain nose. It doesn’t matter. I like to grip with my round nose and wrap with the chain nose. You may do it the other way round. It’s just a matter of preference at the end of the day.

Using the chain nose plier, grip onto the horizontal wire and wrap around the vertical wire.

Wrap as many or as little times around as you like and cut off the excess wrapping wire. Now, you are left with a single vertical wire with a wrapped bottom and reshape if necessary.

Well, I would say you have two options to finish it off here. You can either make a wrapped loop or a lolly loop with the wire. It makes not much difference really. A matter of preference, maybe? I made a comparison between the two types of loop here. So, if you are interested, you may want to give it a read.

This is probably one where you would see mostly used by wire jewellery artist, I reckon. It’s as though the wire wrappings formed some kind of bead cap at the top of the tip.

Basically what you will be doing is make a loop with one end of the wire and leave the other end of the wire much longer to make the ‘wrapped cap’.

Cut a 3” long wire. This is just a guide only. You may want to adjust accordingly to the size of the tear drop bead you are using or how long of a ‘wrapped cap’ you want to make. Here, I’m using an 11mm Swarovski tear drop bead.

Measure approximately 1” from the end of one of the wires.....

And make a 90 degrees bend.

Slide your bead in and we are going to make another 90 degrees bend on the other wire end. You may not necessarily use a tool each time for making the bend. Here, I’m showing how you can also make the bend with your thumb as well. The thumb, I find, to be presumably much gentler than the tools.

Unlike the earlier method, for this you may bend the side wires as close to the bead since the tip would be covered and the tear drop bead is not expected to dangle from the triangle frame other than from the loop joint above the bead.

Now, you will have two wires parallel to each other but one is longer than the other. The short one will be the one you will be making the loop with and the longer one will be the one for wrapping.

What you will be doing next is to cross the wires to form an ‘X’.

Turn the shorter wire such that it now forms a horizontal line.

The two wires need not necessarily form a 90 degrees angle here since it will make not much of a difference since the longer wire will eventually be used to make the wrapping downwards. It just so happens that the angle in which it was took appears to be so.

With your round nose plier, grip onto the shorter wire. We are now going to make a loop on the shorter wire.

Turn the wire around.

And form a loop

Alright, you are going to stop right here.

This is what you will get. The shorter wire somewhat parallel to one of the sides of the wire framing the tip of the bead.

See how the shorter wire is longer that the wire framing the tip of the bead?

We’ll need to cut the excess such that it should be at the least of the same length as the side wire.

Bend the longer wire downwards to form a horizontal line and this is somewhat of what you’ll get.

Okay, now we are going to make the wrapped cap. Here’s where the wrapping part begins. I used the round nose plier to grip onto the loop.

Be careful when you want to make the wrappings here though. As you can see, the longer wire is just a bend and without securing the bend as the midpoint, the wire tends to ‘run’. So, what you can do here is maybe to make a round at the bend to secure it as the midpoint for better grip while making the rest of the wrap.

What I normally do is to turn it upside down and grip the frame near the tip together with the shorter wire.

Make a single wrap around to secure all the wires together.

Turn back to the upright position and grip at the loop.

Now, start wrapping downwards.

Cut off the excess wires and do the necessary nip and tuck and this is the end product.

That’s all for the tear drop bead for this time. :)

post signature

11 hollers:

Jane Of Handmade Jewelry Club said...

Wendy, this is a good piece of tutorial! Would you like to consider posting it to www.handmade-jewelry-club.com to share with the readers there?

Wendy Sue said...

Thanks, Jane!

Yeah, sure. I just post a copy there. :)

Sarah said...

This is an amazing tutorial! Thank you so much!

Jo said...

Hi there, I am so new to jewelry making I am wondering what kind and size of wire you usually use? Sterling, silver plated? What size, 22gauge, 18gauge? I often find the wires too soft or the silver ones fade too easily. Your advice would be appreciated!

Wendy Sue said...

Hi Jo,

Sorry for the late reply, didn't realized I just missed your comment there!

I use mostly silver plated craft wires as practise wires. But as you are more confident, you can switched to sterling silver. Some use artistic wires or copper/stainless steel wire which are all very affordable practise wires.

Silver plated ones will no doubt tarnish over time but what I do is just to clean it with those silver polishing cloth and they normally cleans off nicely. If you prefer non-tarnish ones, you can always go for those artistic non-tarnish wires which comes in an array of colours.

I've only used Darice craft wires before and to be honest, didn't quite like them too because I find them too soft.

My favourite size is 0.6mm or it's equivalent of 22ga I think because I find that it goes through most beads, even those organic ones like freshwater pearls and gemstone chips which normally have smaller bead hole.

For sturdier work, such as making clasps or findings, I prefer thicker ones like 0.8mm or 20ga.

At the end of the day it's pretty much a matter of preference and trial and error. Just experiment with all possible alternative until you find one that you like best. :)

Hope this helps!

Jo said...

Thank you Wendy! Thank you for the great free tutorials and thoughtful response. It's very encouraging and I am going to spend more time and perfect my craft, :)

Wendy Sue said...

You're welcome! ^.^

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT! Very much enjoyed the precise easy to follow instructions.

Anonymous said...

Wow! this was precisely what I was looking for. I was in the middle of a project and had to stop and do research on the wire wrapping. All my questions answered in one place by a pro! Thank you so much.

LUVETTES said...

Thank you so much Wendy. I love the tutorial and am looking forward to looking through the rest of your site. The images and instructions made it really easy.

Scotti Cohn said...

Thank you so much for posting such a thorough, detailed tutorial! I have been fiddling with wire and a teardrop bead for the past half hour, trying to make a dangle for a bracelet. Your instructions saved my life!

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