CzechMates Memory Wire Bracelet Tutorial

September 25, 2014

I love the Picasso finishes and and unusual colors of CzechMate 2-hole tile beads and other CzechMate 2-hole beads. But it’s hard to find a project with them that doesn’t involve needles and intricate beadweaving.

So … here it is! When I discovered pliers designed for looping ends of memory wire, I decided on an ombre chevron cuff bracelet. This 4- to 6-row ombre chevron design takes advantage of the CzechMate color combinations, and is easy to “string” on memory wire.  The outside row uses a few seed beads (or bugle beads) near the edges, because their sizes are so compatible with these 2-hole beads.

Memory Wire bracelet made with 2-hole CzechMate tile beads

My first 2 ombre CzechMate bracelets. Rather than wrapping the memory wire around your wrist three times like most memory wire bracelets, these are cuff bracelets.

For a petite wrist, use standard stainless steel memory wire. For larger wrists or a looser fit, use stainless steel anklet memory wire. (Don’t be swayed by the word “anklet” — it’s actually an excellent bracelet size.)

Cutting Memory Wire:

When cutting any type of wire, wear eye protection, or at least make sure your bits of wire will end up someplace safe, not in anyone’s eye. Cup your free hand over the end, and aim the wire downward at a soft surface like a flocked bead mat.

Tools and Memory Wire:

Memory wire is strong, springy steel — much tougher than most jewelry wire. It requires strong, durable tools, both for cutting and bending. I tried cutting steel wire with my cheap cutters and one blade SNAPPED, shooting across the room in 3 pieces. I also dented high quality cutters that were not designed to cut steel. I strongly suggest a pair of heavy-duty flush cutters and a pair of memory wire looping pliers. They aren’t too expensive, and they work great for lighter-duty projects as well.

Step 1. Practice Making Loops:

Although Memory Wire Pliers make it easy to make consistent-sized loops, steel wire is tougher to bend than other jewelry wire. I recommend practicing memory wire loops before you begin adding beads. This helps you make all your loops at the same angle, and avoid chipping your end beads.

CzechMate Memory Wire Bracelet - Practice

Cut four 2″ pieces (each about 1/4 of a circle). Practice making a loop at each end, with both loops on the same plane (or angle).

Memory Wire - How to Make Nice Loops

How to Make Nice Loops with Memory Wire

1. Grip one end of the wire firmly in the pliers and use your fingers to smoothly wrap the wire around the small side of the pliers. Don’t let it twist upward or downward.
2. About halfway around the pliers, release the plier grip on the wire, and get a new grip so you can finish making your circle.
3. Close the loop ALL the way — don’t leave a spot for beads to slide down inside a gap in the loop.

Repeat at other end. Grip the wire’s tip, push around, release, re-grip, and finish pushing. Take a look at your circles — are they the same size and angle, or are they twisting ickily in random directions? Make a few more until it’s easy to make nice consistent loops on the same plane. Also note that these loops are all to the OUTside of the circle, not the inside:

Memory Wire Loop - Do and Don't

For bracelet comfort, make all loops curve to the outside, not the inside of the arc.

Step 2. Assemble your beads:

Appletini TOHO Seed & Bugle Bead Mix

Appletini TOHO Seed & Bugle Bead Mix

TOHO seed bead mixes work excellently with CzechMate 2-hole tile beads. There are great color mixes to choose from, and you can use 3 large seed beads, 4 small seed beads, or a single bugle bead as perfect-size spacers.

A few beads from each assortment are too tiny to fit on memory wire, or too big to fit next to a Czechmate, so save those for future projects.

Step 3. Make the bracelet:

Cut 4 pieces of wire, each about 1-1/8 coils long (Like going all the way around the clock face from midnight to 2pm.).

3a. Cut 4 pieces of wire, each 1 to 1-1/8 coil long. Make sure they are all the same length
Carefully round 1 end of each wire.

CzechMate Memory Wire Bracelet Step 3b

3b. For a 2-color bracelet, count out 21 tile beads of each color, in sets of 3.

For a 1-color bracelet, use approximately 42 beads. For a 3-color bracelet, count out 15 tile beads of each color in sets of 3. Lay them out in the order that you’ll use them. You might not use all the beads you laid out, but it’s easier to keep your pattern going correctly if you lay out the beads in advance.

String 1 bead.

3c. String 1 tile bead.

Pick up a 2nd wire, and string 1 bead. String a 3rd bead onto both wires.

3d. Pick up a 2nd wire, and string 1 tile bead.
String a 3rd tile bead onto both wires.

String 2nd color using same pattern.

3e. String 2nd color using same pattern.

Don't worry that the beads and strands flip and flop around at this point.

Don’t worry that the beads and strands flip and flop around at this point.

End with 2 tile beads. Make sure you have at least 1/2" (12mm) of wire left.

3f. End with 2 tile beads. Make sure you have at least 1/2″ (12mm) of wire left.

3g. After your last 2 beads, push beads snug (but not super tight), and trim wire to approx. 1/2″ if necessary. Next, very carefully round the end wires for both strands (one wire at a time). Abrupt / harsh movements may chip the end bead.

Take another of your prepared wires, and string 4 seed beads, or a single bugle bead. Place these next to your strung CzechMates … do they look good? If not, pick a different color or size and test it before you begin the next step.

Back at the beginning, feed a new piece of prepared wire through the other hole in one of your first beads.

3h. Back at the beginning, feed a new piece of prepared wire through the other hole in one of your first beads.

3i. Where the wire comes out, add 3-5 seed beads (or a bugle bead) so they are the same total length as a Czechmate tile bead or slightly shorter.

Feed through next CzechMate, add bugle or seed beads, repeat to end of bracelet.

3j. Feed through next CzechMate, add bugle or seed beads, repeat to end of bracelet.

Repeat for 4th row, trim excess if necessary, and carefully round the ends.

3k. Repeat for 4th row, trim excess if necessary, and carefully round the ends. (Click image for close-up.)

Tips & Errata:

Do your best to make the loops all face the same direction, but don’t be hard on yourself if they don’t. Here is my first bracelet, with wonky ends and a chipped bead. When I taught a class on how to make this bracelet, I introduced the “practice making loops” step, and not a single person chipped a bead!

Example of bad loops on my first memory wire bracelet.

Close-up of bad loops on my first bracelet. The tips listed above should help you make better loops and avoid chipped beads.

By my 3rd bracelet, I realized it’s much easier to finish the ends if the strands (after looping) are tiny bit shorter than one full coil, so now I design these more like cuffs than bangles.

Czechmate and Memory Wire - Finished Cuff-Style bracelets

It’s much easier to finish the ends, if each strand, after looping, is slightly shorter than one full coil, more like a cuff than the bangles I originally envisioned.

You’ll soon perfect your ability to make all your loops at the same angle.  After that, these are quick and easy to make, so make a bunch for gifts or to sell!

Czechmate Memory Wire Bracelets

Variations on a theme.

Depending on the size of your spacer beads, some bracelets spike up a bit in the middle, and others curve up at the outside edges. This is part of the fun with these designs. Used in this pattern, I think the CzechMates™ Two Hole Triangle Beads look like tiny Stegosaurus / dragon spikes.

Parts & Supplies:

Any questions? Please ask!  (Click on “Comments” or “Leave a Reply” below.)

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  • Reply Stuart October 3, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Very cool tutorial, Good detail will have to fish my old beads out and give a try.

  • Reply Pearl January 17, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    What an excellent idea and alternative to the wrapped memory wire bracelet style! Will share on my blog!

  • Reply Princess Cinnamon March 16, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Thank you! I just finished a version of this with glass beads and just two strands. I think it looks pretty awesome. 🙂

    • Reply Polly March 17, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it! I really enjoy making these bracelets. I avoid needles and thread whenever possible (I’ve been known to staple the seams in clothing). So I love using memory wire with these beads. ~Polly

  • Reply Christine July 16, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Very nice idea. I’ll have to try. Don’t think I’ve seen any of those beads in my craft shops. Wished it were a video tutorial. Great work.

  • Reply Gothic Gourd Girl August 9, 2016 at 7:27 am

    You can also buy glue-on little beads that fit on the end of memory wire, so you don’t even need to loop, and they make for a very nice, clean finished look. Good for those who have trouble with curling the ends, also!

  • Reply Fiona April 26, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I love the look of these bracelets so will definitely be giving it a try. Nice easy to follow instructions too. Thank you.

  • Reply David Beads On September 26, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    I really like the look of the memory wire bracelets you made. I will try them for sure. I have made quite a few memory wire bracelets and a lot of time I have added charms on the ends of my wires so they dangle kind of nicely. I definitely like this look.

  • Reply Carol Hinton March 8, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Greetings from Lewiston! Love the Tila beads, just discovered them on a couple of bracelets in a shop at the Seattle airport. Looking forward to making something similar. If you respond by email I’ll send you an attachment photo and maybe you can clue me in on the beading schematic. I think I have an idea how to do it. I’ll also search your catalogue at Rings n Things for the braided leather.

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