Sunday, January 5, 2014

Three Super Simple Ball Chain Ends

I just love using ball chain, but figuring out how to connect it to other things is a challenge! I found these ball tip connectors at Chain Gallery, where I have been buying 3.2mm antiqued copper-plated ball chain and connectors:

They're super easy to use, but a little limiting in that the holes won't take anything thicker than 18 gauge wire, so if you need a heavier jumpring, you're out of luck. I don't always like the look of them either--sometimes their commercial look doesn't work with what I'm making. I've been thinking of different ways of treating the ends of the ball chain. Melissa Meman did a fabulous tutorial HERE on using double-ended ball headpins to create a gorgeous connector that is an aesthetic element all in itself. The methods below are a little more utilitarian and not nearly as pretty, but they're handy if you need a slimmer connector.

The first method involves using old-fashioned ball chain connectors and a ball headpin.
You're going to insert the headpin into the connector and form a wrapped loop. Here's how:

First, cheat open one of the holes a bit with your pliers, and snap the headpin in as shown. This headpin is made from 18 gauge copper wire (the connector is the size sold to go with the 3.2mm ball chain, and the 18 gauge wire makes a nice, tight fit).
 Squeeze the hole tight again:
Then make your wrapped loop:
I like double-wrapped, hammered loops, so this is how I finished mine:
If you don't like the look of that gaping hole, you can add a bead to your headpin to help fill the space. (I got a little fancy and tried some blue-green patina on my headpin.) The holes on these 3mm copper beads were too small for 18 gauge wire so I used 20 gauge instead--worked fine.

You can also fill the hole by inserting two links of ball chain instead of one:

Unless you get your wrap super tight down on the top of the connector, these will tend to swivel so you won't always see the little beads inside. Sometimes you'll see the back of the connector. In a bracelet or necklace that probably won't matter much, but if you wanted to use this in an earring, you'd need to make sure they didn't swivel around so that the side you want is always facing forward.

Another option is to dress up the ball tip connectors I mentioned at the beginning of the post with a rustic wire wrapped loop. I like this more workman-like look than the plain ball tip connector, and another benefit is that you can use a larger jumpring with it now, or attach it directly to some other element in your piece.
I'd be happy to show you how to do the wrap above in another post--just let me know in your comments if anybody's interested.

Happy New Year!


Lune Artisan Jewelry
The Cerebral Dilettante


  1. I would love to see the instructions for the wrap in an additional post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I sure do like this idea. Many times I shy away from ball chain but you have given me courage! LOL

  3. Another wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing. I too would like instructions for the wrap.

  4. WOW I am so impressed with how you work with that wire and metal

  5. Good information - thank you for sharing. I would be interested in seeing how to do the wrap.

  6. Very cool idea, Keirsten! I will have to play with that!!

  7. This post solved a couple of mysteries for me, and I´d definitely like to read more about the wire wrap, as it looks great! Thanks!

  8. These are some great tips for working with ball chain, thanks for sharing. and I'd love to see a tutorial on the wire wrap option. Have a good day!

  9. I would be interested to learn how to do the last wrap :) Thank you for sharing, your work is amazing !


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