Wire Jewelry Making: How to Make Chain Filled With Pearls, Beads, or Crystals

I have a confession to make. Many moons ago, when I first started making wire jewelry as part of a job, I was given a Rio Grande catalog and allowed to order what I needed. I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know, so I somehow ended up with a spool of 24-gauge silver, dead-soft wire. A whole spool.

I’m not sure if I ordered it based on price or if it was a mis-click or if I just truly had absolutely no idea what I needed or what wire gauges were. But now, more than 12 years later, I STILL have a nearly whole spool of 24-gauge silver, dead-soft wire! Once in awhile I melt a bunch of it to recycle into something I can work with, but for the most part, it just sits there on my bench, tarnishing.

Viking knit filled chain bracelets

Thank goodness we’ve made the new video, How to Make Filled Chains with Pearls, Beads, and More with Noël Yovovich. Now I have a great new use for all of this wire! (Though it doesn’t take nearly that much to make a bracelet or necklace.)

wire jewelry making Viking knit to make filled chain bracelets

Seriously, why didn’t I think of this before? This variation of Viking knit (Noël calls it a single-weave or single-knit Viking knit) is a perfect way to use the fine wire I’ve had all these years–and show off my beloved pearls in a modern way. Plus, as Noël mentions in the video, all of the artistic pendants we make deserve an eye-catching, equally handmade chain. These woven chains are perfect for showcasing your metal or wire jewelry pendants, and they’re stylish enough to wear on their own as chains or bracelets.

wire jewelry making VIking knit alternative

The chain that Noël creates is similar to Viking knit chain, but less dense, so that you can see the crystals, beads, or pearls that you put inside. I think it would also look great with leather (what an awesome contrast!), colorful cord, or bright sari silk ribbon inside. Or twigs, or grapevine, or marbles, or rope, or . . . If you make the tube large enough or small enough, and put things inside that won’t fall through the openings in the weave, you can have so much fun with this wire jewelry making technique.

wire jewelry making Viking knit to make filled chain

If you’re looking for something new to try, this is different than any other wire jewelry making we’ve covered on Jewelry Making Daily before. I love the fact that once you get going, you’re working almost entirely with just your hands, the wire, and the dowel and hardly any tools, making it a very satisfying, meditative, literally hands-on technique.

wire jewelry making, Viking knit single weave

In How to Make Filled Chains with Pearls, Beads, and More, Noël will show you how to measure, mark, and score your dowel to make even stitches easily and how to save money by starting your weave with copper wire (which will be removed) and transitioning to silver later. She also demonstrates:

  • how to add lengths of wire as you go without twisting them or disrupting the look of the chain
  • how to avoid kinks while “knitting” or “weaving” with wire
  • how to maintain proper spacing during looping and how to fix loose or tight rows
  • how to weave through a loop that’s too tight against the dowel and around a spliced-in wire
  • how to know when to stop weaving for the length you desire and how to fix it if it’s too long after you’ve drawn it down
  • how to end the chain so that both ends are equal in size and how to connect them into a bracelet or necklace
  • how to draw down the chain without using a steel drawplate (which are expensive) and without hardening the wire too soon or scratching it, and more.

finishing a Viking knit bracelet

If you have a big ol’ spool of fine-gauge, dead-soft silver wire that you don’t know what to do with (ha!), or if you just want to learn a really cool wire jewelry making technique for making filled chain, download How to Make Filled Chains with Pearls, Beads, and More! You’ll love learning how to make your own chain and then, if you like, adding a little something extra by filing it with sparkling crystals, lustrous pearls, or colorful beads. Plus this technique doesn’t require a lot of tools, making it a perfect project to do during a trip, while watching TV, etc.

For you wire jewelry making fans who also love to knit like I do, you’ll enjoy the soothing rhythm of this meditative technique and the process of turning something as simple as wire into something more substantial with depth and dimension, just like we do with yarn and knitting, but it’s wire jewelry! The result is very similar to wire crochet or wire knitting and very unique. Learn how now!

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Blog, Wire Jewelry Making
Tammy Jones

About Tammy Jones

I'm the editor of Jewelry Making Daily. I also have my own handmade jewelry business on Etsy, Southern Baubelles. I love working with metal clay, found objects, silver, copper, brass, enamel, resin, and genuine gemstones. I also enjoy knitting, paper crafts like card making and scrapbooking, cooking, traveling, the seashore, and snow!

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