My Computer is My Canvas · Jan 24, 2015

How to Make BEADED Bottle Cap Key Chains!

It all started a few months ago when I ventured into something new... which was designing bottle cap sized (1") printables! I had seen them made up with beads online - but had NO CLUE where to begin. So, I signed up for two hour Jewelry 101 Class at Joann's and since then, this new little beading hobby of mine has taken me by storm! I am absolutely inspired by all the colorful beads and have loved marrying them with the bright patterns and colors of my printables. And... based on the volume of emails I get on a daily basis asking for help, it sounds like many of you would like to give it a try too! So, although I'm not a master-beader... I'm a beginner, in fact - I'll do my best to walk you through how to make these fun, colorful bottle cap wonders! Throughout the tutorial, I'll also recommend (and link to if I can) the places I've bought my beads and supplies.

And... hopefully by the end, you'll be able to make all kinds of bottle cap crafts with the same techniques! Like this necklace for example... just adding one "bead dangle" to a necklace or key ring makes a DARLING difference!

Since black and purple are my FAVORITE colors right now... I picked this one to do step-by-step! You can get this printable {HERE} in lots of colors! Or.. you can take a peak at my entire collection {HERE}.

First... you'll need to buy or borrow some basic jewelry tools and supplies.
(1) Chain Nose Pliers (2) Round Nose Pliers (3) Bent Nose Pliers (4) Wire Cutters (5) Mat
Where to Buy these Supplies: You'll be able to find these tools anywhere that sells jewelry-making supplies and at craft stores like Michaels, Joann's and Hobby Lobby. You can start with a Beginner's Kit of tools for $10-15 or you can get them for $4-6 each, so definitely use your craft store coupons! These kits are also available online, check Amazon if you don't have these stores near you. The beading mat is also a must have... I paid $3 for it at Joann's. It's basically a thin, soft mat that measures 9" x 14". It's a great work space and it's main purpose is to prevent your beads from rolling around. OR... you can buy a felt square for $0.30 or just use a small kitchen towel.
In addition to your tools, these are the other basic supplies you'll need (also referred to as "findings").

(1) Silver Spacers - 4mm (2) Jump Rings - 6mm (3) Daisy Spacers - 2mm (4) 2" Headpins (5) Flat Bottle Cap Zipper Pull (6) 1" Epoxy Stickers (7) Bottle Cap Printables (punched with 1" round punch)
Where to Buy these Supplies: The spacers, jump rings, and headpins can all be found at any craft store that sells jewelry-making supplies. I prefer Michaels over Joann's, Walmart has a decent selection of basic supplies (if they have a craft section at your store) and Hobby Lobby is good as well. These basic jewelry findings are also sold on thousands of websites online and on Etsy. I've purchased bottle caps and epoxy stickers from several online stores and my FAVORITE is FizzyPops. Her selection is great and her quality is the best I've found. The thickness and firmness of her stickers is second to none - and what I also love, is she sells a variety of bottle caps with epoxy stickers in DIY kits. The more you buy, the more you save if you want more of a one stop shop, she also has all of these findings, plus a great bead selection as well. She has generously set up a coupon code for my readers, you can use CANVAS10 to save 10% off your order.
For your bottle cap printables... you can visit my shop to see my full selection. I recommend printing them as 4x6 photos at your favorite photo lab, then use a 1" round punch to punch them out (punches are sold at any craft store, or here's a link on Amazon).

If you've never bought beads before... it's helpful to have a sizing guide so you know what to look for. The largest bead I've used on any of my keychains is this CUTE polkadot bead... it's 16mm. Then - I always pick a range of sizes, all the way down to the simple 4mm silver spacers.
For the best design, you'll want to mix sizes, colors and materials. Think about the design theory "earth, wind and fire"... and follow that rule of thumb. That means you should pick at least 3 different types and sizes of beads to keep your design interesting and fun. If you look at mine, I chose 2 colors silver. I chose stripes, pearls and polkadots - simply add variety with sizes, colors, materials and patterns. Below is a list of my favorite places to buy beads:
BASIC BEADS: (pearls, spacers) - Michaels, Joann's, Hobby Lobby and Walmart STRIPED BEADS: FizzyPops, Bubble Gum Bead Co, SmartParts POLKADOT BEADS: Happy Kawaii Supplies OTHER NOVELTY BEADS: Cute Cornwall SILVER CHARMS: Bohemian Findings
These have become my "go to" shops... they usually have what I need - and between me, a few of my friends and my sister - we've ordered several times and love these shops! A good tip if you are just starting out, look for bead "mixes". It's a less expensive way to build your stash if you can get a mix of colors or sizes in one listing instead of buying a strand of each color in each size. Rarely do I buy a strand unless I know I need a bunch of that particular size or color - I much prefer mixes. One spot I really like is the clearance section on FizzyPops... she offers mixes there and it's a great way to get a nice assortment of colors and sizes without breaking the bank.
You've got your supplies, now let's prep your bottle caps...

I've touched on this part of the process several times already when I've released bottle cap printables - but in case you don't know - here's a quick run down. You print the bottle cap sheets as 4x6 photo images at your favorite photo lab. Then, using a 1" round punch, punch each one out. Adhere them, image side UP to the Epoxy Sticker. Try to avoid touching the sticky part (you don't want fingerprints or oily residue getting stuck under there)! I've found it easiest to hold the sticker and the image together with my index finger and thumb, lining them up before pressing. Then, using E6000 Glue, adhere the stickered image to the bottle cap. Set aside and let dry for a couple of hours...
...which is the perfect time to get started on your beads!

I like to pick out the beads I'll be using, then start by threading them onto my headpins until I like my little collection. For most of my beaded keychains, I've made 6 to 8 "bead stems" (that's what I call them) - or "bead dangles"? I typically choose 2 or 3 beads of varying size and style. For some beads, the hole is larger than the head of the pin. In that case (look at the polkadot bead one) - I put one of my tiny 2mm daisy spacers on first, then put the bigger bead on. You can also use a "bead cap" with beads that have a larger hole, you'll find these at any craft store.

Next... grab your Chain Nose Pliers. Grip the pin as close to the top bead as you can and bend it to a 90 degree angle. The pins are very pliable, so it's not tough and will bend easily. Then, I usually just go down the line and quickly do this step to all of my cute little bead stems.

Then, take your wire cutters and cut the pin, leaving about 1/4th of an inch... this is the part of the pin you'll be "rolling" to create your loop. One important point... your pin will go flying when you cut it - so point the pin directly down into the mat so it doesn't flip back and hit you in the face. Seriously. It will. So be careful. It's a good idea to wear glasses when you are cutting your pins.

Next... you are going to make your "loop". Hold the bead stem straight up and down and position it so the pin is pointing directly towards you. With the Round Nose Pliers, grip the pin at the very edge of where you cut it. Notice that I'm about 1/4th of an inch from the tip of the pliers. This is important - where you grip will determine your loop size. The closer to the tip of the pliers you grab, the tinier the loop - the closer to the base of the pliers, the bigger the loop. Remember we trimmed the pin to 1/4th inch? That's why we are gripping the pin here.
Ok... with the pliers in your right hand, hold your beads upright with the left. Keeping it straight up and down - then... with a twisting motion of your wrist, ROLL the pliers away from you (like you are revving a motorcycle) and your loop will begin to form. Slide the round nose around, grip again and finish the loop - bringing the tip of the pin in towards the bead to close the loop. This takes practice and your first few will look crazy... keep trying, practice with a few and eventually you'll get the hang of it. Just remember... rev it like a motorcycle to form your loop! If you completely slaughter it... open it back up with your pliers, slide the beads off and start with a fresh pin.

This is what it will look like after you work the loop a bit to get it nice and round. Make sure the tip of your pin tucks right to the hole on the top bead. This is called a "Simple Wire Loop".
Here's a couple of short videos that might help you see what I mean... {HERE} and {

After you master your loop... finish the rest until your little collection is complete.

If you want to achieve a cascading effect like I do with mine... lay out your bead stems and line up your jump rings. To begin attaching, you'll need to use your Chain Nose Pliers and your Bent Nose Pliers. Grip the ring with both pliers, one on each side of the opening. Hold one plier in place, then bring the other one towards you to open. Resist the temptation to "pull" them apart - it will weaken the pin and you'll never get it rounded again. While the ring is open, slip the bead stem loop onto the ring and close the same way you opened... holding one plier in place, then pushing the other back to meet it.

I put one bead dangle on each jump ring, alternating sides. It takes practice getting your jump rings to close and takes practice to get your beads to look the way you want them too. Be patient. Give yourself time during your first project to play around - going through a little bit of trial and error is good! Your SECOND key chain will go MUCH easier than your first, so don't give up. Just keep practicing your loops, opening/closing jump rings, placement with your beads and develop your own techniques and styles. In not too many projects, you'll be beading like a master!

So.. there you have it - a list of tools, supplies, shops, tips and pictures! I hope this helps you get started... if you'd like more instruction, search "Simple Wire Loop" or "How to Use Jump Rings" on YouTube... watch a few video tutorials and you'll get the hang of it really quick. If you are having tons of fun - you might also consider signing up for a class at your local craft or jewelry store... it's a great night out with the girls. If you have any questions... please leave a comment and I'll answer them in the comments so everyone can read them.
Happy Beading!


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