I love the Picasso finishes and and unusual colors of CzechMate 2-hole tile beads and other CzechMate 2-hole beads. But it’s hard to find a project with them that doesn’t involve needles and intricate beadweaving.
So … here it is! When I discovered pliers designed for looping ends of memory wire, I decided on an ombre chevron cuff bracelet. This 4- to 6-row ombre chevron design takes advantage of the CzechMate color combinations, and is easy to “string” on memory wire. The outside row uses a few seed beads (or bugle beads) near the edges, because their sizes are so compatible with these 2-hole beads.
For a petite wrist, use standard stainless steel memory wire. For larger wrists or a looser fit, use stainless steel anklet memory wire. (Don’t be swayed by the word “anklet” — it’s actually an excellent bracelet size for most people.)
Cutting Memory Wire:
When cutting any type of wire, wear eye protection, or at least make sure your bits of wire will end up someplace safe, not in anyone’s eye. Cup your free hand over the end, and aim the wire downward at a soft surface like a flocked bead mat.
Tools and Memory Wire:
Memory wire is strong, springy steel — much tougher than most jewelry wire. It requires strong, durable tools, both for cutting and bending. I tried cutting steel wire with my cheap cutters and one blade SNAPPED, shooting across the room in 3 pieces. I also dented high quality cutters that were not designed to cut steel. I strongly suggest a pair of heavy-duty flush cutters and a pair of memory wire looping pliers. They aren’t too expensive, and they work great for lighter-duty projects as well.
Step 1. Practice Making Loops:
Although Memory Wire Pliers make it easy to make consistent-sized loops, steel wire is tougher to bend than other jewelry wire. I highly recommend practicing memory wire loops before you begin adding beads. This helps you make all your loops at the same angle, and avoid chipping your end beads.
1. Grip one end of the wire firmly in the pliers and use your fingers to smoothly wrap the wire around the small side of the pliers. Don’t let it twist upward or downward.
2. About halfway around the pliers, release the plier grip on the wire, and get a new grip so you can finish making your circle.
3. Close the loop ALL the way — don’t leave a spot for beads to slide down inside a gap in the loop.
Repeat at other end. Grip the wire’s tip, push around, release, re-grip, and finish pushing. Take a look at your circles — are they the same size and angle, or are they twisting ickily in random directions? Make a few more until it’s easy to make nice consistent loops on the same plane. Also note that these loops are all to the OUTside of the circle, not the inside:
Step 2. Assemble your beads:
TOHO seed bead mixes work excellently with CzechMate 2-hole tile beads. There are great color mixes to choose from, and you can use 3 large seed beads, 4 small seed beads, or a single bugle bead as perfect-size spacers.
A few beads from each assortment are too tiny to fit on memory wire, or too big to fit next to a Czechmate, so save those for future projects.
Step 3. Make the bracelet:
For a 1-color bracelet, use approximately 42 beads. For a 3-color bracelet, count out 15 tile beads of each color in sets of 3. Lay them out in the order that you’ll use them. You might not use all the beads you laid out, but it’s easier to keep your pattern going correctly if you lay out the beads in advance.
3g. After your last 2 beads, push beads snug (but not super tight), and trim wire to approx. 1/2″ if necessary. Next, very carefully round the end wires for both strands (one wire at a time). Abrupt / harsh movements may chip the end bead.
Take another of your prepared wires, and string 4 seed beads, or a single bugle bead. Place these next to your strung CzechMates … do they look good? If not, pick a different color or size and test it before you begin the next step.
3i. Where the wire comes out, add 3-5 seed beads (or a bugle bead) so they are the same total length as a Czechmate tile bead or slightly shorter.
Tips & Errata:
Do your best to make the loops all face the same direction, but don’t be hard on yourself if they don’t. Here is my first bracelet, with wonky ends and a chipped bead. When I taught a class on how to make this bracelet, I introduced the “practice making loops” step, and not a single person chipped a bead!
By my 3rd bracelet, I realized it’s much easier to finish the ends if the strands (after looping) are tiny bit shorter than one full coil, so now I design these more like cuffs than bangles.
You’ll soon perfect your ability to make all your loops at the same angle. After that, these are quick and easy to make, so make a bunch for gifts or to sell!
Depending on the size of your spacer beads, some bracelets spike up a bit in the middle, and others curve up at the outside edges. This is part of the fun with these designs. Used in this pattern, I think the CzechMates™ Two Hole Triangle Beads look like tiny Stegosaurus / dragon spikes.
Parts & Supplies:
- Stainless Steel Memory Wire for a petite wrist (or Anklet Wire for an average to large wrist)
- CzechMates 2-Hole Beads (I used Tile Beads for all of my bracelets, and added Triangle Beads to one.)
- TOHO Seed Bead Mixes
- Memory Wire Looping Pliers
- Heavy-Duty Flush Cutters
- Safety Glasses
- Flocked Bead Mat (optional)
Any questions? Please ask! (Click on “Comments” or “Leave a Reply” below.)