Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

I love jewelry projects.  Seriously love them.  Especially bracelets (gee, have you noticed?? LOL).  So I tried my hand at a wire wrapped cuff, and for a first try, I’m pretty happy with it!

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

The things is, I can’t help looking at it and seeing all the room I have for improvement.  Do you do that too?  I debated whether I should even share a tutorial, since this time around, I’m FAR from an expert – but in the interest of keeping it real and not being perfect, I thought I would show you a little more about this project.  Maybe you like it as-is, and if you do – thank you!  But a quick Google search on wire-wrapped bracelets will get you some gorgeous professional pieces that look much nicer.  I can’t show you how to make one of *those perfect ones* today, but I CAN show you how to try wire wrapping a cuff for the first time… deal?

This bracelet took me closer to 90 minutes than my standard hour-or-less, but as far as supplies go and the process itself, it’s actually quite simple.  What you will need:

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

  • Two gauges of silver plated copper wire.  I used 16 gauge for the cuff, and 22 gauge to wrap it.  24 gauge or even 26 gauge would also work nicely for the wrapping work.  You need around 14-16 inches of the heavy wire, and around 10 feet (depending on how tightly you wrap it and how wide you make your cuff) of the lighter wire.  Out of these packages, I easily have enough wire left for another cuff and possibly two.
  • Focal beads you love.  I think these brown agates are just gorgeous.  I got them from consumercrafts.com.  (In fact, I got the wire there, too… I LOVE their site for my basic supplies!)
  • Nylon pliers – this is for straightening your wire as you work with it
  • Wire cutters
  • Optionally – a small file for any sharp edges.
  • You may also find a regular pair of jewelry pliers helpful, though they really aren’t necessary.

I made adjustments as I worked and I will note those in the post.  Just be warned, what you see in the photos may have been slightly modified later in the project.

First things first – the cuff itself.  Cut off 14-16 inches of heavy gauge wire.  Form it into an oval that will accommodate your beads.  You want it to be about 6-1/2 inches long.  A little longer or shorter should be okay, especially if you happen to have larger or smaller wrists.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

You don’t need to do anything fancy to connect the two ends.  Just wrap them around each other tightly enough to hold the shape securely.  You’ll notice here that I have oval-shaped ends, and I squared them off later in the project when I discovered that rounded ends would be much more difficult to finish than square ends.  You can square them now, or you can wait until you have some wire already wrapped to stabilize it.

Now, cut off a length of wire that you think you can easily work with.  I like to work with about 5-6 feet at a time.  Thread a bead onto the center, so that you’re only working with 2-3 feet of wire coming off each end.  Position the bead vertically at the center of your bracelet, and wrap the wire around the cuff’s frame several times.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

The reason you want to start out at the center is because it’s easy to begin wrapping too tightly, and your bracelet can start getting squeezed smaller.  Positioning the center bead helps to reinforce the width you’ve chosen.

Once you’ve wrapped far enough to get to the outside edge of your bead, do the same thing with the other end of the wire so that both ends are securely wrapped onto the frame.  There’s no rule which direction you must work in.  You will have gaps along your frame in different spots as you work, and we will fill those in later.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

Once you have reached the outer edge of the bead, take either wire, and thread it to the opposite side of the cuff’s frame.  Wrap it around once to secure it, them pass it back down to the other side.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

Do this a couple times.  As you work, your wire will start to look awfully bent, so every few passes, you’ll want to use your nylon pliers to smooth it back out.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

I spaced mine wider than I really wanted to, but this is where practice comes into play.  When you being to hone your wire wrapping skill, you will learn to better manipulate it.  Or, I can only assume that’s how the pros can do such fabulous tight wrapping.  I’m not there yet.

Once you’ve wrapped the width a few times, wrap your wire around one end of the frame to create space to string your second bead.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

Then add it on, and continue wrapping, straightening with your nylon pliers as you go along.  Very soon, you’ll probably run out of wire.  That’s okay.  When you get close to the end, just wrap it a few times around the frame and nip off the excess.  You can add more wire there and continue where you left off.  This is where NOT being a pro has its advantages – spacing the wire out like this allows you to experiment, add and subtract length, make mistakes, and cover them up. :P

Once you’ve added your second bead, I recommend moving back to the center of the bracelet and working the other way.  This will help ensure that your two sides stay even.  When I got over there, I had no wire at all, so I started a new strand.  It worked fine for me, though people who wire wrap for a living will probably tell you that you don’t want to start multiple strands like this when you can help it.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

Once you’ve placed your beads, you just want to keep wrapping back and forth, covering the frame, until you get to the ends.  (This is where I discovered that I needed to square those edges.)

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

You’re probably starting to wonder how to reconcile places where you have too much wire, and places where you don’t have enough.  We’re going to be reinforcing the whole frame of the bracelet with wrapped wire, so we will fix bare spots then.  Your excess wire can just be threaded through the small gaps you’ve already made.  Just keep wrapping it around the frame until you run out or until the frame doesn’t need it.

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This extra round of wrapping will also hold your original wraps securely in place.  Don’t be frustrated if your beads slide around a little at first – mine did too.  Just make sure they are exactly where you want them when you reinforce the frame.  That will hold them securely.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

Once you’ve filled in all your gaps and reinforced your bracelet’s frame, all that’s left is to form it into a cuff!  You should find it fairly easy to bend by hand.  It should be strong enough to hold its shape once you bend it.

Wire Wrapped Agate Cuff Bracelet

Overall, I do like how it turned out, though my eye is of course drawn to everything that could be just a little bit neater, just a little bit better.  I’m very happy with how much I learned just by working with the wire!  I’m looking forward to trying out another couple of styles to see how much more I can improve.  But the cuff is gorgeous with my brown sweater, and no one else will be looking as closely as I am, anyway – so I am calling it a win all the way around. ;)

Adrianne

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    It turned out really nice! Love the beads and the color. I’ve always wondered how to get cuff bracelets started. Thanks for sharing the how-to!

  2. says

    It’s beautiful, and your right no one will look at it as closely as you do! I LOVE those huge brown beads, very nicely done.:)

  3. says

    I love the large beads that you used. I also think the charm of handmade is in the imperfections….even though you are the only one to notice them! LOL!

  4. Lynne says

    This is gorgeous! Do you have any suggestions where I can get half round wire? (My husband tells me that is the kind of wire you need to wrap the beads in this one necklace he wants to try….and all I can find is sterling, which is more than I would care to spend)

  5. tavette says

    Very pretty and an inexpensive way to try a wire wrapped cuff for the first time. Please take the following as CONSTRUCTIVE comments/questions and know that I have never worked with wire before. I was confused by the 1st photograph as it initially looked like the wire was in 2 loops. Now I realize it was just a shadow. It’s hard to photograph wire.

    Knowing the size of your wrist would help us determine if we need more or less wire to make the frame fit our wrist. Or…..better yet – measure the finished cuff length (using the wire lengths suggested in directions & your photographs) & then we can lay a measuring tape on our wrists to figure out if we need it longer or shorter. That way we could also determine the width of the gap we like between the ends of the cuff when it’s bent into shape.

    You did say the amt. of wire depended on how many times you wrapped the thinner wire around the frame but a ball park of the cuff length would be good.

    “Thread a bead onto the center”. Hmmm….. As a complete novice, that’s where I got lost. How about,… using the 22 guage (thinner) wire, cut a manageable piece 5-6″ long and thread it through the bead with the same amt. of wire extending from both ends.

    Find the center point of the heavier wire (which is the top frame) and wrap the wire coming out of the top of the bead in a clockwise direction around the top frame. Find the center point of the heavier wire (bottom frame) & wrap the wire coming out of the bottom of the bead in a counter clockwise direction around it. Wrapping the bead wire in oposite directions (on the top & bottom of the frame) will secure it with minimum shifting of the bead.

    Hmmm…in first photograph of the bead attachment, the wire is wrapped clockwise on both the top and the bottom of the frame. However, in the photograph with the 2nd bead, the wire is wrapped in opposite directions (as suggested above).

    Which directional wrapping method do you feel works best?

    Instructions says to select one of the bead wires to wrap around the frame. What happens to the other end of the bead wire? Do you cut it off or wrap the first wire loosely around the frame in anticipation of wrapping the 2nd wire so as to fill in the gaps?

    Prior to adding the 2nd bead, how do you keep the heavier wire frame the same distance apart (while wrapping the frame with the thinner wire)?

    Oh —– so many questions. :) Can you tell I’ve NEVER done this before?

    Nylon plyers – ah ha. I never knew what their purpose was before your explanation – thanks. Will definitely have to get some of those.

    PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEASE take my comments as constructive. I’ve never known what to do with those strings of 3 large beads before & now I’m definitely inspired by your instructions and photos. Step by photographs as you provided are a BIG help. You sure got me interested in making one. Who cares if the final product is perfect? NONE of us are perfect and our cuffs will be one of a kind.

    Question: Is it OK to straighten out a wire cuff bracelet (to save on storage space) or is it better to leave it in the cuff shape?

    Please excuse any mispellings.

    THANKS

    Tavette

  6. tavette says

    Me again. Now that I’m looking at the photographs one more time before heading off to Michaels with my 40% coupon, there really isn’t that much space between the beads so not much chance the width of the cuff will vary as you add the 2nd & 3rd bead.

    I’m excited by your creation so thanks for posting.

    Tavette

  7. says

    Great Bracelet, As someone who has been making jewelry for the last 4 years, I love reading tutorials by both pros as well as newbies. The starters have fresh points of view and experts have great tips. What really matters when you write a tutorial is how explanatory it is

  8. Judith W says

    Just found your site and “liked” you on FB; please create a Pinterest identity, as I’d like to follow you there also.

    I am currently taking a seed bead weaving class, and the teacher last night said that mistakes on bracelets are not to be of concern, as our hands don’t really stay still, wrists are farther away from a viewer’s eyes, and no one really looks closely at our wrist (except for me, when I stop someone and ask, “can I take a closer look at that jewelry?” lol)

    Necklaces, on the other hand, lay stationary against your body, and people are standing much closer, and likely to see any imperfections.

    Hope this helps.

  9. Diane Noonan says

    Just one question, after you have finished wrapping the center bead, is it possible to re-thread that bead with another 5-6 feet of wire to start wrapping in the other direction, instead of just adding another piece of wire? That makes more sense to help stabilize the bracelet. Just my thought.

    • says

      Diane, that is a great suggestion. I mentioned in the post, this was the first time I attempted something like this – I’m glad to have insights that can improve the design!

  10. Dallas Squier says

    Thank you for showing me how to do this. I am going to adjust the size some and make napkin rings instead.

  11. Sarah says

    Thanks for this tutorial. I’m wondering on the strength of the 16 gauge wire. Did you find that with the added bigger stones it kept its shape ok? I was curious what gauge of wire to use to make a cuff but a cuff that will keep its shapes. Anyone have any other thoughts?

  12. Lee Hernandez says

    Wow! Thank you for sharing. We all have to start wire wrapping at the beginning, so yours was just fine and such an inspiration. The large stones help to keep the bracelet the desired width. You’ve given me a lot to think about tonight instead of sleeping!

  13. Lisa says

    Did you end up just covering over the looped/tied area of the thicker gauge wire from the original oval, or did you smooth it out in some way. I cant really tell from the finished pictures, and there’s no mention about it after the initial step with it in it.

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