Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Share...Ball Chain End Loops

Earlier this week on Facebook, a dear friend and fellow artist, Carol Myers, asked if anyone knew of a tutorial to make wire loops for the end of ball chain.  After several folks chimed in and googled and left links, we found several links to mass produced findings that would add a loop to the end, but not any hand-made ones.  

The standard connector for ball chain...boring!
I took this as a challenge and vowed to come up with a workable solution for today's post!  I had actually toyed with this before and never really got it worked out...the wire has to be sturdy enough to actually function as a hook for a clasp, but flexible enough to twist around the tiny wire between the little balls.

Some early attempts...pretty pitiful!
My first attempts were not pretty...but surprisingly functional.  I originally thought I would start about 3 balls from the end and wrap the wire around each ball until the end one and then make a loop, bringing the wire back down to wrap around the same 3 balls in the opposite direction.  That actually works and I am going to try it again with bigger chain and making it cleaner.  My next attempts utilized larger wire structures that were wrapped on with smaller gauged wire.

Here is what I finally liked.  You will need:

wire - 26g soft 6-8 inches
wire - 18g soft approx 3 inches
round nose pliers
flat nose pliers
butane torch
steel block or anvil
a bit of perserverance!

  • Cut 18g wire into 2 pieces
  • Using your torch, ball the ends of each piece.  You may go through a practice period to get 2 finished double ball pins the same length (I neglected to take a photo of that, sorry)
  • Wrap the pin around the base of your round nose pliers
  • Using flat nose pliers, right next to the ball ends, make a sharp bend to straighten.

  • Using your steel block and hammer, gently harden your loop.  I put mine back over the round nose pliers and straightened out the legs a bit.
  • Attach the end of the 26g wire to one of the legs of the loop.  I wrap around once just so it won't come off.  Then you can place the end of the ball chain where you want it and begin weaving the wire around.  It is hard to see the actual wrapping in the photos, as I was taking my own photos and only have 2 hands!!
The actual weave is an over/under, like a figure-eight, but with a third is a crude diagram I drew that hopefully will explain it better.  I am sure there is a technical term for this.  The dots are the legs of the structure with the ball chain in the middle, and the arrowed lines are your 26 gauge wire...clear as mud?

  • Continue wrapping until you feel the structure is secure...usually about 3 or 4 passes. Snip the wire and tuck it firmly so that it won't snag later.  You can straighten your wraps with your pliers or your fingernail. 
  • Attach clasp of your choice.
  • Optional: Use desired patina and give it a whirl in a tumbler for strength and polish.
I know you will do a better job of getting your wraps neater and more symmetrical!!
So there you go... would love to hear of ideas or methods any of you have played with finishing ball chain ends!

Happy Saturday! I am off to BeadFest for the afternoon!

Melissa Meman


  1. Those are great Melissa - I've always just made a large ball head pin to clip into the commercial connector and wrapped a loop - but these are much more interesting.

  2. Great tutorial and idea! I have been struggling with the same thing (creatively finishing ball chain). Love what you came up with.

  3. gorgeous solution..i never use those double, pop in, commercial links, have been using fold over ends ,for leather/ribbon, instead..You have sparked my imagination for other solutions..thanks

  4. That's a great alternative to the boring usual connector, I love the look of them!

  5. That is fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Wow Melissa, very creative and beautiful clasp design. Wonderful!!!

  7. What a great way of finishing ball chains!

  8. Utterly brilliant. I'm sharing this one. Wonderful idea and beautifully explained. Thank you!

  9. THAT is a beautiful solution! Thank you so much!

  10. Melissa!! You've made my day. I love ball chain, but always disliked the funky clasp. Your design to finish pieces has raised this humble chain to new heights. Love the fact that your ends have matching balls, too. Thanks so much!

  11. I love how these look! Was always stumped by ball chain ends before. I think I'll try this with some black ball chain I have on hand, and make silver end loops. THanks so much. I'm going to pin this one for sure!

  12. You ROCK! Taking it to Pinterest! RIGHT NOW!

  13. This is great Thank You for sharing
    I found out about this from Ginger
    over at Facebook

  14. Those are great - you are very clever and inventive!

  15. That's wonderful! Thanks for sharing! Love the ball chain but getting it elegantly connected is a bear.

  16. This is brilliant! You are brilliant! Thank you for sharing!

  17. Fantastic tutorial - I've never found a satisfactory way to finish ball chain, and this is beautiful and perfect!

  18. Oh, I just love this!Sooo much more interesting than the ugly clasp that comes with them. Now if I could just get my hubs to let me use fire...

  19. This is awesome, Melissa... I have ball chain that I seldom use but now you have inspired me!

  20. I love the this tutorial. Just looking to expand my handmade jewelry line. This gives me inspiration.

  21. FABULOUS!!! They are a lovely design element all in themselves, as well as functional.

  22. Very clever! Thank you for sharing. (Your diagram was perfect by the way.)

  23. It looks so stunning beautiful! Okay... I need now a torch, steel block and hammer... sighs!

  24. Fantastic tutorial, thank you so much for sharing. I love using ball chain, and I've got special end clamps to crimp on which let me attach just any regular clasp (because, really, everyone knows the clasps that come with the chain suck) but they can occasionally be hard to find in the right size so it's nice to have a hand made alternative. :D I pinned this on Pinterest, I hope that's okay.

  25. Beautiful work on the clasp! Where did you get such pretty ball chain?

    1. Cory, it is pure copper and I dipped it in Liver of Sulfur!

  26. Inventive. Thanks for sharing!

  27. This is perfect. Just what I was looking for. Thank you so much for sharing.


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