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Fine-wire octagon beads

Metal tags wrapped with wire create a colorful pendant

This piece begs for a closer look. Layers of braided and wrapped fine-gauge wire give these beads a complex yet delicate look and a sturdy feel. Two versions show that the same wires wrapped in a different order alter the result.


  • Octagon aluminum tag (Inland Products,
    • 1 1⁄8 in. (2.9 cm) for large pendant bead
    • 2 1 in. (2.5 cm) for connector beads (optional)
  • spool of 28-gauge wire in each of 3 colors: A, B, C
  • 10 in. (25 cm) 18- or 20-gauge sterling
  • silver wire, dead-soft
  • 18- or 20-gauge jump rings, round or hexagonal
    • 18 10 mm inside diameter (ID)
    • 56 8 mm ID
    • 5 5 mm ID
    • 11 4 mm ID
    • 72 3 mm ID
  • tapestry needle (eye must be large enough to fit 28-gauge wire)
  • 3 x 2 in. (7.6 x 5 cm) piece of leather or other non- fraying material
  • 3 small pieces of soft fabric
  • 3 paper clips 
  • cardboard (optional)
  • drill (optional)
  • E6000 adhesive
  • permanent marker (optional)
  • chainnose pliers
  • flatnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • wire cutters


Fine wire octagon beads a
Photo a
Fine wire octagon beads b
Photo b
Fine wire octagon beads c
Photo c
Fine wire octagon beads d
Photo d
Fine wire octagon beads e
Photo e
Fine wire octagon beads f
Photo f

Multistrand flat braid 

These instructions make an 18-in. (46 cm) braid, which is enough to make the pendant and two connector beads.

1. Cut six 2-ft. (61 cm) pieces each of color A and color B wire, and three 2-ft. (61 cm) pieces of color C wire.

2. Separate the wires into three groups, each containing two As, two Bs and one C.

3. Wrap 2 in. (5 cm) of scrap wire around each group approximately 1⁄2 in. (1.3 cm) from each end to secure them (PHOTO A).

4. Tape the three groups side by side to a table or secure board. This will be the top end of the braid.

5. Arrange the wires in each group as follows: A, B, C, B, A. Lay the wires side by side, and smooth 3 in. (7.6 cm) of wire. Fold a small piece of soft fabric over each group of wires, and secure with a paper clip (PHOTO B).

6. Maintaining even tension, make a standard braid. Be careful to keep the wires flat and the colors in order. Remove the scrap wire wraps as you get close to the end of the wire groups to make it easier to maintain the order of the wire colors. Trim the ends evenly.


1. Use a permanent marker to color the edges of the 1 1⁄8-in. (2.9 cm) tag if desired, as the edges may show through the wirework.

2. Place one end of the flat braid on the back side of the tag. Leaving a 1⁄2-in. (1.3 cm) tail on the back, fold the braid over the front of the tag, covering the tag’s hole (PHOTO C).

3. Fold the braid to the back on the opposite edge of the tag, keeping the braid snug. Adjust the orientation so that the next fold will go over an edge next to the first fold.

4. Continue wrapping the braid around the tag until all eight edges are covered (PHOTO D). Cut the braid, leaving a 1⁄2-in. (1.3 cm) tail. Press the tail firmly to the back of the pendant. Note: The braid will not be secure until all the wire wrapping is complete.

5. Cut 2 yd. (1.8 m) of color B wire. Leaving a 1-in. (2.5 cm) tail, position the wire on the back of the pendant parallel to the last wrap made with the braid.

6. Fold the wire from the back of the pendant up the front from the bottom, keeping the wire to the right side of the top braid. Wrap around the tag to the right of the braid so there are three wraps on the front. On the back side, cross the wire to the left of the braid, and wrap three more times (PHOTO E).

7. Turn the pendant so that the next set of wraps will be made alongside the next braid, adjacent to the wraps just completed. Repeat step 6.

8. Continue around the tag until each braid is edged with three wraps of color B wire on both sides. Trim the wire, leaving a 1-in. (2.5 cm) tail.

9. Find the tail of the color B wire on the back side of the tag, and twist the tails together. Be careful not to twist too tightly, or the wire may break. Trim the twisted wires to 1⁄4 in. (6 mm), and press firmly to the back.

10. Repeat steps 5–9 with color C wire and then color A wire (PHOTO F). If you begin to run out of room along the edge of the tag, snug the wires together, or omit one wrap from the color C wire.

Fine wire octagon beads g
Photo g
Fine wire octagon beads figure

11. Secure the wraps by stitching them together on the back: Thread 12 in. (30 cm) color A wire on the tapestry needle. Slide the needle under a group of wires at least 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) from the edge of the tag, leaving a 1-in. (2.5 cm) tail. Slide the needle back under this group, and pull firmly to gather the wires together. Continue around the back, gathering each group of wires.

12. Twist the tails together. Trim to 1⁄4 in. (6 mm), and press firmly to the back.

13. Open a 5 mm jump ring. Use the needle to gently separate the wire braid to create just enough space on both the front and back sides of the tag to slide the jump ring through. Close the jump ring (PHOTO G).

14. Using the FIGURE as a template, cut a piece of backing material slightly smaller than the pendant. Spread glue over the back of the wires, taking care to get the glue between the wires. Smooth the backing over the glue, and press into place.

Connector beads

In order to use the 1-in. (2.5 cm) tags as connector beads, drill a second hole opposite the pre-drilled hole. If you don’t want to drill holes, see the editor’s notes to learn how to make a tag with cardboard.

1. Repeat steps 1–2 of the pendant, but don’t cover the tag’s holes with the braid.

2. Fold the braid up the back, skip one edge, and fold the braid across the front of the tag. This will form a cross of braids on the front.

3. Trim the braid, leaving a 1⁄2-in. (1.3 cm) tail. Press the tail firmly to the back.

4. Cut 52 in. (1.3 m) of color C wire. Leave a 1-in. (2.5 cm) tail on the back of the tag, and starting at the edge with the hole, wrap the wire around the tag 1⁄8 in. (3 mm) from the corner. Make 14 wraps, keeping the wraps close together.

Fine wire octagon beads h
Photo h

5. Cross the wire behind the tag, skip one edge, and continue wrapping perpendicular to the first set of wraps. Make 14 wraps.

6. Cut the wire, leaving a 1-in. (2.5 cm) tail. Twist the tails together, trim to 1⁄4 in. (6 mm), and press firmly to the back.

7. Repeat steps 5–9 of the pendant with color B wire and then color A wire, ensuring the wraps are made on each edge to complete the wire wrapping (PHOTO H).

8. Open two 5 mm jump rings.

9. Locate the holes under the first set of color C wire wraps with the needle. Gently separate the wires with the needle to create just enough space to slide a jump ring through each hole. Close the jump rings.

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