Working With Chain.

Q: I would like to start using chain in my beaded necklace projects, but know very little about how this is done. What size chain do I use? Does the chain actually go through the bead, or do I use an eye pin and attach the whole thing that way? I am thinking of the Y necklaces where there is some chain, then some beads, then chain, then more beads, sort of alternating. Also, in my choker projects, I would like to start using chain closures, as I see this as the easy way to make the piece adjustable to different size necks. Again: Size of chain? Type of chain to use? Also, I have a need for gold plated 22 gauge wire. I usually order mine from 'Eclectic', but they on vacation until Jan. 10th, anyone know of a good source for this wire, online?

A: If you are using lampwork beads or other beads with large holes, a fine chain will go through the beads. I have done a few pieces like this, but not many because the combo of beads and chain that "fit" is hard to find. Generally, links like you mention are done with wire or eye-pins. If you have a very small-holed bead (like pearls), you may have to use 22 or even 24 gauge wire and wrapped loops. In this case, you will have to attach the chain as you go, otherwise you can use regular loops, and make all the links first. Most of my necklaces are made adjustable. I string them on 'Softflex', ending at a jump ring. If you are doing bead-woven pieces, end with a bead tip and fasten that to the jump-ring. Attach the chain to the jump ring - you need to be using open link chain and lobster claw or spring ring clasps. Match the size/sturdiness of the chain (and the clasp) to the scale of the necklace - dainty or chunky. BTW, I never buy head or eye pins, because of the waste involved - you have to cut off the extra every time, which is too small a piece to be used for anything. I buy wire by the ounce - an ounce of 20 gauge sterling is about 19 feet. I cut about 18 inches of working length at a time, and then only have one piece of scrap at the end of that. I hammer the end of the wire to a paddle for earrings, with a regular loop at the top. I make my own figure 8 shaped jump rings, which are less likely to pull open than regular jump rings. I save all the snipped off pieces in a pill bottle, and go through them when I need a very short piece of wire. 2 years of working this way, and the "scrap" bottle is only half full! I use heavy cable chain in my 'Zuni' bear necklaces and also used it when I used to make Y necklaces. I get them from 'Gemorama', The website has a toll free number. They sell them for 10 18inch chains for $18.50. I generally use 20 gauge wire to connect the chain and the beads since eye pins change colors after awhile. I believe 'Rio Grande' in Albuquerque has gold-filled wire.