How To Make Wire Cages For Round Beads

Silly me!! Didn’t know I could make these cages myself.

I have been buying them!!

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Making these wire cages is quite easy. I found the directions in one of my wire making craft books.

Creating Wire and Beaded Jewelry by Linda Jones.

It is turning out to be my most used wireworking resource.

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My tutorial is based on the results from using 20 gauge wire. It is great practice wire and is forgiving in case you need to unbend, straighten and start over. It is also inexpensive. I got 8 yards for $2.50.

Instructions for making ONE Wire Cage to enclose a 12-14 mm round bead.

Step 1. Cut lengths of 14″ wire. One per wire cage.

Step 2. Making the Swirls. Start at the tip on one end and make a small bend with round nose pliers. (See photo at end of tutorial for tools used in this project.) Now switch to either chain nose pliers or flat nose pliers. Either one will be fine for this step.

Slowly start to form a circle by covering the tip loop with chain nose/flat nose pliers, bending the wire as you turn in as perfect a circle as you can. Make the swirl large enough to cover one side of the bead.

Now start on the other end of the wire. Repeat the same steps and make a swirl on the opposite end of the wire. Make sure the swirls look about even with the same number of revolutions. Leave about 2-2 1/2″ of wire between the swirls.

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Step 3. Making the Hook. Using round nose pliers, find the center of the wire with the swirls facing downward. Hold tight and push up one side and then the other. Refer to photo illustration.

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You are making the “hook” that will serve two purposes. It will cover the center open area of the bead, forming a connection to the side swirls. The hook also creates a loop for attaching the stringing material of your choice.

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Step 4. Enclosing the Bead. Fit one side swirl on top of the bead.

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Now fit the other swirl on the opposite side of the bead, like a sandwich. Holding both swirls in place, wrap the hook around the center of the bead.

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Press flat against the bead middle. Mold the wire, straightening as you work. Once you are satisfied with the cage and it covers your bead nicely, you are ready to bend up the tip of the hook to form a hanger.

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Step 5. That’s it!! You are done. Ready to add whatever you wish to hang your beaded wire cage from.

You can make cages smaller or larger by reducing or increasing the number of revolutions. Also experiment with different lengths of wire to see which best covers the bead size you are using.

Wire cages will look pretty on a pendant, bracelet or earrings. The book used jump rings to connect to the turned up hook. Even keychains would be fun to make. Load up with charms and beads. What better way to use up left over beads or beads with a few flaws. Won’t be able to see the flaw inside a wire cage!!

I am thinking you could make wire cages for other bead shapes too. Oblong and squares. By adjusting the design of the wire. Try experimenting to see what you can create. So far I have only made round cages but I plan to try making other shapes.

My beads I am making wire cages for are blue with orange stripes. I am going to work in seed beads in blue and orange somehow. Still working on that part.

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Tools used: Round nose pliers, Chain nose pliers, and plastic covered Flat nose pliers.

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Beading Tips 101

  1. Soldered closed rings can be quite expensive especially in gold filled or sterling silver. By accident I discovered the perfect closed rings. Chain links.  Buy chain links by the foot. Cut off rings as needed. Much cheaper and you can buy different shapes and different sizes. You are not limited to the small round ones sold at craft stores.
  2. Next time you are holding up a finished necklace or bracelet to admire, don’t panic if you see wire!!  And don’t remove the crimp and start over.  Look for the least inconspicuous space and add a crimp bead as a fill-in. 
  3. The cost of buying spacer beads adds up. If you are like me, you like to have handy every possible metal in gold plated, gold filled, antique gold, silver plated, sterling silver and copper.  I was making weekly trips to the craft stores replenishing my supply UNTIL I discovered seed beads.  Use tiny seed beads as spacers and fill-in beads. They come in various sizes and colors.  Add seed beads to your beading design or bead as a separate string.
  4. When braiding multi-strand necklaces and bracelets, tape all strands, at the end of braiding, with masking tape.  The tape will hold all strands together as you add the clasp.
  5. Crimp but don’t crimp!! Add the crimp BUT don’t crimp it yet. Make sure beads are facing the right direction, no wire is showing, clasp is on the right side, multi-strands are positioned correctly by length. Do all these things before you crimp. I usually set aside a piece for several hours before crimping. I use alligator clips to hold the wire until I am positively sure I am truly finished and ready to crimp.
  6. As you are stringing, sometimes a damaged or imperfect bead will make it past your quality check. If you are well into the design, use flat-nose pliers to crush the bead, being careful not to damage surrounding beads. No need to restring.