Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Favorite Techniques: Tubular Braiding with Wire Tutorial

Tubular Wire Necklace and Earrings by Lisa Van Herik

Today we have a very special treat for beaders who love to work with wire! Lisa Van Herik of Woven Wire Studio is a talented designer, creating gorgeous dimensional jewelry and sculpture with wire. She has been working with a variety of techniques and mediums over the last 20 years, and has been featured in museums and galleries, along with her own self publish instructional books. Lisa’s favorite technique is an original wire weaving concept, or tubular braiding. It’s beautiful, versatile, and great for beginners and experts alike.

Inspirational Beading: What is your all time favorite beading or jewelry technique?

Lisa: Of all of the various and plentiful wire jewelry making techniques, my favorite is called Crown Sinnet Braiding. While this is a technique I originally adapted from a wheat weaving how-to book, it’s also a little-known wire jewelry making technique. The weave produced from this technique is essentially a type of round braiding and produces a very lovely, sophisticated woven jewelry product. I’ve spent several years testing, developing and adapting this highly versatile and speedy technique for wire jewelry making.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material to use it with?

Woven Wire Necklace by Lisa Van Herik

Lisa: I’ve always worked in sterling and fine silver wires but given their expense today, copper wire would be my preferred wire for working this technique. Copper is a rather soft material making it a pleasure to work wire. It’s also relatively inexpensive and an excellent wire to begin wire smithing with. Copper wire is also easily available from hardware stores like Ace and comes in small bundles perfect for wire smithing. Adding a darkening patina (color enhancer) to the copper after weaving also gives it a richer look.

Inspirational Beading: If someone had to choose to learn only one technique, would you recommend this one?

Lisa: If I had to recommend only one technique to learn, this would be the one. Why? It is so very simple to learn, exceptionally fast and lends itself easily to making a wide variety of jewelry including neck rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants and bracelets. Anyone, regardless of skill level, can learn this quickly. It’s also very simple to add beads into the weave and vary the look of the weaves you can get by changing the gauges (thicknesses) and types of wires you use.

Inspirational Beading: How can beginners learn this technique?

Lisa: The best way for beginners to learn this wonderful technique is probably to follow the steps in the short tutorial below. Understand that you can change the size of the hole inside your woven wire tube by changing the size of the dowel that you weave onto. Once you finish this first tutorial, you can do amazing things with this technique and beads.

Crown Sinnet Tubular Braiding With Wire Tutorial

Cleaning and Preparing Your Wire

Step 1: Begin by cutting four 9 inch long strands of 22 gauge copper. It’s always a good idea to clean your wire before beginning a weave. That way, it will be much easier to “fine” clean your finished woven piece. While there are many good liquid jewelry cleaners out there, I use Tarnex (in a well ventilated area) to initially clean the wire, followed by a using a polishing cloth. After I use the polishing cloth, I wipe away any residue with a paper towel.

Step 2: Setting up wires to weave. Using a hollow ¼ inch brass tube, tape each of four strands from Step 1 evenly spaced flush against the tube as shown in the picture below. Leave roughly ½ inch of wire sticking out the bottom (past the bottom of the tube).

How to Set Up Wire for Braiding

If you’re using a brass tube, tuck the ends of the wire inside the bottom of the tube as shown.

Step 3: How to hold the wire to weave. Hold the taped end of the dowel with one hand and then grab any one of the four copper strands with the other hand

Begin to Weave

Step 1: Moving counter clockwise, gently place the strand in your hand across the next two strands.

How to Weave a Tubular Wire Braid

The very next wire that you move in the next step will be Wire #3 (since it is directly behind the wire you just moved (Wire #1).

Tubular Wire Braiding Tutorial

STEP 2: Complete the move. Immediately grab the strand behind the strand you just moved. (Original Wire #3).

Important Tip in Weaving: This is the most important move in this weaving process and the one that confuses people the most. Consider this: once you move a strand it now is located in a new position. The strand to move next is the one directly behind the strand you just moved into that new position.

Another important thing to do when moving strands, is to place or gently pull them into a tight weave, making sure all wires in the weave are close to one another.

It is also extremely important to keep all four of your wire strands at equal distances from one another around the dowel while you’re weaving. What this means is that once you move a wire strand into its new position, make sure you gently move the other wires to be equadistant from one another.

Tubular Wire Braiding Technique

Step 3: Continue the weave. Move the new strand (ie; the one you just picked up behind the first strand you moved) across the next two strands in a counter clockwise motion.

Continue moving one strand over the next two strands, then pick up the strand directly behind where the first strand was moved.

Move this new strand over the next two strands, then pick up the strand directly behind the strand you just moved, etc. Continue in this fashion weaving around and up your dowel until you’ve completed the desired length of your woven tube. Once you’ve woven several times around your dowel, you should start seeing a pattern in the wire.

Braided Wire Necklace by Lisa Van Herik

This is really an extremely simple weaving technique although you must remember to do it exactly as stated here to keep from confusing your strands. One of the things I do to keep on track is to grab the strand behind the one I just moved before I drop the one I just moved.

Important Note: When moving a strand across one of the other wires, try and pull the new wire that is being moved up just a bit, sliding it down the dowel before laying it on top of the next two wires.

You can find full instructions for wire braiding techniques on Lisa’s website, Beadifferent, along with more fun wirework techniques and ideas. For a fun and totally neat project preview, check out Lisa’s sugar cube bead tutorial video.

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
Tutorial Copyright 2010 Lisa Van Herik
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook


  1. Amazing! I particulary like the spiral earrings. Great work.

  2. Oh my, how fabulous are these pieces and details on how to get it done, thanks for sharing!

  3. Love your contribution to Lisa's tutorial. The result is just awesome!

  4. a 9in piece of wire wont make a whole bracelet or necklace, how do you add wire to keep going?

    1. You can get a full tutorial for the complete method on Lisa's website here: http://www.beadifferent.com/catalog/my-books/round-braiding-1-make-woven-wire-jewelry

      Here's a quick excerpt: "Hold the end of the tube you're braiding; next, take a long length of wire (same gauge that you're using for the original braid), fold that in half and slip it through the end of the braid (anywhere will work). Now you've just added two new strands to braid with. If you want to keep the braid symmetrical, you should do this (slip in a long, folded in half long strand) on the area directly across from where you added the first new wire strand as well. Likewise, say you're making an eight strand braided tube and have run out of wire all round the tube: if you want to continue with the eight strand braid, you would need to add (4) folded new wire strands (which equals 8 new wires), equadistant around the top of the braid. Then curl in the original end wires towards the inside of the braid (to hide them)."

  5. This is a fab tut and many thanks for bringing it to my attention - am off to have a look now
    Neena Shilvock


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Inspiration Topics

accessories amulet Ancient Worlds Modern Beads animals April's Army art ArtFire astrology astronomy autumn awards awareness bangle beach Bead Inspired Bead Shops bead soup bead spotlight bead stash Bead Trays beaded beads beading theory beads belt bezel birthstones black blog spotlight blue boho bone book spotlight bracelet Bracelet A Week branch fringe brick stitch brown bugles buttons cabochon ceramic chain maille challenge charity chevron chain christmas collar Collections color Color Ideas color triads conservation craft shows crafts crochet crystals cuff Culled Beads current events Current Faves daggers Daily Sets daisy chain Delicas Destash drops Dutch spiral earrings Egypt Egyptian Gods embellishing embroidery environment etsy exotic fair trade fantasy fashion Favorite Beads Favorite Techniques feminine fibers film findings fire polish fixtures Flashback Test flickr inspiration flowers food found object free form fringe Geek Jewels geekery gemstones geography giveaway glass gold gray Greece green herringbone hex cuts history holiday home decor insects inspiration tip inspired beader Inspired by... Inspiring Links ivory Jewelry Stash knitting ladder stitch lampwork lariat leaf fringe leather lights literature loomwork macrame magatamas Master Class Medallions metal free metalwork Mini Collar a Week mixed media mixture Mood Board MOP multi-color multi-strand music natural beads nature necklace Necklace a Day Nepal chain netting New Beads ocean ombre orange paint paper patterns pearls pendant peyote photography Picasso finish pink Pinspiration PMC polymer clay poster sketch purple quick inspiration rainbow RAW red resin ring Ring a Day rivoli Rome Russian spiral scarf science seed beads shell silver soutache spiral rope spring square stitch St. Petersburg steampunk stringing stripes summer tagua TBT The Elements thread Tilas Time Capsule tools trade beads triangle weave tribal tropical turquoise tutorial two-hole beads Ugly vintage Wear it Twice weather white winter WIP wire wishlist wood World Beaders yellow
Blog Home * About * Beading Tutorials * Advertise

Learn About Sponsoring Inspirational Beading with Project Wonderful
Affiliated With ShareASale.com and Amazon.com