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Tangled squares necklace

Lampworked beads and wrapping technique come together to create this beautiful, sophisticated necklace. 

Create square components with this overlapping technique. A patina highlights the texture and layers in this celebration of hand-built beauty.


necklace 19 in. (48.3 cm)

  • Copper wire, round, dead-soft:
    • 14-gauge (1.63 mm), 4 in. (10.2 cm)
    • 16-gauge (1.29 mm), 8 in. (20.3 cm)
    • 18-gauge (1.0 mm), 17 1⁄2 ft. (5.3 m)
  • 18 8 mm copper jump rings, 14-gauge (1.63 mm)
  • 3 12 mm lampworked barrel-shaped beads
  • 4 6 x 12 mm lampworked disk beads
  • Wirework toolbox
  • liver of sulfur gel
  • fine-grade steel wool
Tangled squares necklace_image 1
Image 1

Measure and cut 19 11-in. (27.9 cm) pieces of 18-gauge (1.02 mm) wire.


Leaving a 1 1/2-in. (38 mm) tail on the starting end, wrap one 18-gauge (1.02 mm) wire around a 15 mm square mandrel (IMAGE 1).

Tangled squares necklace_image 2
Image 2

Wrap the wire three-and-a-quarter times around the mandrel so the ending tail of the wire is on the corner opposite the starting end, but on the same side of the mandrel (IMAGE 2).


As you wrap, bend the corners as close as possible to 90º.

Tangled squares necklace_image 3
Image 3
Slide the wrapped wire square off the mandrel. Use flatnose pliers to hold the square on the side with the loose ends so that all wires are together (IMAGE 3). 
Tangled squares necklace_image 4
Image 4
Using chainnose pliers, wrap one tail tightly around all three wires at the corner three times (IMAGE 4). Wrap until the end of the tail is inside the square.
Tangled squares necklace_image 5
Image 5

Trim any excess and make sure the wire end is tucked inside the square (IMAGE 5). Repeat to wrap the other tail (IMAGE 6). 


NOTE: The necklace in this project is 19 in. (48.3 cm) long. To adjust your necklace’s length, just add or subtract wrapped squares.

Tangled squares necklace_image 6
Image 6
The resulting wrapped square may no longer be even and strands might overlap. It is fine if some squares come out with the wrapped ends on the same corner or do not match perfectly, since the goal is to create organic links.

Repeat to create 18 more wrapped squares.
Tangled squares necklace_image 7
Image 7

Cut five 1 9/16-in. (40 mm) pieces of 16-gauge (1.29 mm) wire. Take one finished square, a piece of 16-gauge (1.29 mm) wire, and one barrel-shaped lampworked bead.


Using roundnose pliers, make a plain loop on one end of the wire. Open the loop using chainnose pliers. Slide one side of a wrapped square into the loop, and close it. String the bead onto the wire (IMAGE 7).

Image 8

With the roundnose pliers, form another loop around the opposite side of the wrapped square (IMAGE 8). Try to position your loop as close as possible to the bead. 

Using the 16-gauge (1.29 mm) wire pieces, make two more components with barrel-shaped beads following instructions from Image 7. Repeat twice with two disk-shaped lampworked beads.

Image 9

Open 18 14-gauge (1.63 mm) 8 mm jump rings. Slide two of the wrapped squares without beads onto a jump ring, then close the ring (IMAGE 9).

Tangled squares clasp_image 12
Image 10

Continue adding squares and jump rings in this order: 

three plain squares, one square with stacked disk beads, 

one plain square, one barrel-bead square, 

one plain square, one barrel-bead square, 

one plain square, one barrel-bead square, 

one plain square, one square with stacked disk beads, 

four plain squares.

With flush cutters, cut a 4-in. (10.2 cm) piece of 14-gauge (1.63 mm) copper wire. Use round-nose pliers to make a very small loop on each end. Shape the wire into an S using large roundnose pliers (IMAGE 10).


Tangled squares clasp_image 11
Image 11

Place the S on a bench block, and use a chasing hammer to flatten the wire. Use the peen of the chasing hammer to texture the clasp (IMAGE 11).


Designer’s note: Don’t worry too much about making the links match one another perfectly. The intent is to allow for a little variation to give the finished necklace a more organic feel.

Tangled squares clasp_image 13
Image 12
Open one end of the clasp, and slip it through one of the tangled square ends. Close the clasp. Use the square on the other end as the closure (IMAGE 12).

Finish the necklace by adding a patina using liver of sulfur. After patinating, allow the necklace to dry, and then use fine-grade steel wool to polish and bring out the highlights of the copper.