A chain for you and a question…

I thought I’d share with you one of my chains.

It’s very simple, and like most things creative, not unique to me, but if you’ve not tried making your own chains yet and fancy having a go, read on…

You will need about 4 ft of 19 gauge wire for this 18″ chain and simple soldering skills.

IMG_6788

I used sterling silver because that’s all I had available in 19 gauge.

Of course you can use any gauge and ring diameter, but you will have to adjust for the amount of links, etc., accordingly. You can use copper if you prefer, but note that the solder tends to show more.

TIP

When making calculations for a different chain design or gauge I like to make a 4 or 5 link sample chain. This way I can measure how long that small piece of chain is and then multiply it for the actual amount of links I would need for the chain length I want.

I can also see at this time if I like the chain design and the gauge.

For this reason I’ve started making different sample chains out of copper for quick reference.

To calculate the length of wire needed for each chain I’ve found this handy interactive chart.

how to work out the circumference of a circle

and for calculating millimeters into inches,

how to convert mm to inches

NOTE

Jump ring sizes are measured using the inside diameter. To be sure that I actually have enough silver to complete the chain I measured the jump ring I want to use by the outside diameter.

Now for the chain…

Make 24 x 9.5mm jump rings.

IMG_7874

Wrap them with tape.

IMG_7875

And saw them apart trying not to slice your finger open – because it hurts.

IMG_7877

TIP

After much experimenting I find it easiest to use long blade passes through the rings holding the rings just proud of the edge of a wooden block. Start sawing at an angle and once you’ve got a good purchase straighten up the blade so that it runs more or less perpendicular to the outside of the rings.

With practice it becomes easier and that’s actually the first time I’ve cut myself.

Must not have been paying attention.

Always pay attention…

Now make 26 x 3mm jump rings and do the same.

Beware as this is more fiddly and swear worthy.

Now solder the small jump rings together.

Note: I like the whole chain soldered, but you can skip soldering the small jump rings if you wish and just join the completed larger links together at the end.

For a completely soldered chain, however, I find it easiest to solder the small jump rings first.

IMG_7913

For joining the jump rings I like to use chips of solder which I buy from Contenti.

IMG_7901

IMG_7923

I sprinkle a small batch directly onto my soldering board and use my pick to take them one at a time to the links.

NOTE

You do not need flux or solder to join fine silver together.

IMG_7924

You really only need one of these tiny chips to solder the 19 gauge jump ring together. The key, as always, is to make sure that the ends of your jump ring fit tight together.

There shouldn’t be much of a gap at all otherwise the solder will not flow across the two ends to join them.

Now they are all soldered you can slip two of them onto a larger jump ring and prepare to solder that closed also.

IMG_7915

TIP

 Always point the joins you want to solder in the same direction. This way takes the guess-work out of finding the join, especially if you’ve done a good job preparing them and they’re so tight you can’t find the join at all.

IMG_7919

Now take two of the soldered links and join them together with a third, large link.

Solder these also.

IMG_7921

Now you’ll have groups of three.

IMG_7925

Which you’ll join together with another large link.

IMG_7926

Although at this point it becomes easier to solder the whole chain together at once.

IMG_7928

Continue in this way until you have used up all of your jump rings.

Now you could stop right here and you’d have a nice, large loop chain to clean up and buff.

You could leave the rings round or hammer them slightly to give them more character.

IMG_7929

But I took a pair of round-nosed pliers and opened up the links.

IMG_7930

If you do every other link in this way you’d once again have a nice, large loop chain to wear.

IMG_7931

If you then took the oval links and squeezed them together so that their middles touched, you’d have yet another design of chain.

IMG_7932

But I was going for the figure 8, which is achieved by holding a pair of flat nosed pliers at each end of the oval link and twisting it 180 degrees, making sure that you twist each link in the same direction.

IMG_7933

So here’s another chain design.

You could also change it up by using a different size joining ring.

Your options are limitless…

IMG_7934

If you continue to stretch the rest of the 9.5mm links you can go through the same process, making a different style of chain at each stage.

IMG_7935

But, like I said, I was going for the figure 8 all the way…

IMG_7936

Here it is after the pickle.

IMG_7937

And once it has been dunked into the Black Max, or Liver of Sulphur. and buffed.

IMG_7939

All ready and waiting to go.

You can see here that I also hammered the ends of the figure 8’s.

Now for the question.

How much would you charge for this chain?

Bear in mind that you have to accommodate for your experience. For example it’s not fair to set a price when it’s taken you all day to make something which, in fact, it should only take you 2 hours.

I’ve made quite a lot of them now and each time this particular chain takes me 1 hour 50 mins from start to finish.

No breaks. No daydreaming. Just exact timing carefully watching the clock.

Right now silver is $15.79 and so this piece has $4 worth of silver in it.

If you have a scale you can easily weigh the finished piece in troy ounces and then calculate the silver content.

You can find the current silver prices at the top of Rio Grande’s site.

I have a scale similar to this one.

116854

So, what is your formula for pricing?

I used to just guesstimate, but as time has gone by I’ve begun to see how important my time is and how, in the past, I was almost giving my jewelry away.

This had always been o.k. with me insofar I was learning my craft as I went along, but if you are serious about making and selling your jewelry there comes a time when you should start to look into the real value of your work, if not you are not only underestimating your worth, but also undercutting the worth of other artists.

This is a simple formula that I like to use.

labor + materials + overhead + profit = wholesale price

wholesale price x 2 (minimum) = retail price

At the end of the calculation I then look at the figure and see if I think it’s fair and if I think the piece will actually sell for that.

I would be interest in your opinions about this and how you work out your prices

🙂

The rise and fall, and rise again, of the Willow Creek Jasper…

I’d like to tell you that everything I make starts good, ends good, and everything in the middle is perfect.

But…

So I cut this nice little Willow Creek Jasper cabochon from a big chunk I bought from The Gem Shop.

willow_creek_select_large

And thought I’d show you something I made with it.

I decided to go for something like this, but wasn’t sure about the garnets.

IMG_7455

I thought they might be a little too pretty, but decided to go ahead anyway.

If you’re new to bezel making here’s how I prepare mine.

I run a length of bezel wire around the stone and cut it off a little larger than it needs to be.

If the stone has corners I define those with a pair of flat nose pliers first.

IMG_7446

Then holding it as tightly as I can I tuck one end underneath the other and mark where it overlaps with a pencil.

 IMG_7447

O.K. so that was a lot more overlap than I needed.

I was obviously feeling generous.

IMG_7448

Now I snip the extra off leaving it a slither longer than I measured it.

IMG_7450

And I work the two ends by pushing them beyond each other to close up the gap and create some tension when they touch together.

I use my flat nose pliers to slightly flatten the join. This helps to finish up the alignment.

The join has to be perfectly aligned before soldering.

IMG_7451

With no gaps.

IMG_7452

Now I solder it.

I like to use a third hand and place the solder piece on the outside of the bezel, but there are many ways to do it. Just make sure to heat the silver evenly so that the solder flows over the join. If you heat one side more than the other the solder will pull away from the join toward the hotter end and the solder won’t fill the join.

If this happens take your flame away, start heating the whole thing again so that the silver heats evenly and then help the solder flow across the join with your pick.

IMG_7453

The bezel should fit nice and snug.

IMG_7454

See.

Look at the shine I got on that cabochon.

I did that.

😉

In fact I was so impressed with myself that I celebrated with a cup of tea.

IMG_7460

Here’s the other side.

IMG_7461

They’re not so impressed. Especially the last man.

Next up I soldered the bezel wire to the back plate and pickled it.

IMG_7456

And because all of a sudden I thought perhaps I should I’ve stared rinsing the piece in a solution of water and baking soda when I first get it out of the pickle.

IMG_7482

Then I rinse it in water.

I also hold my breath when I open the pickle crock pot.

The hypochondria’s been creeping back in.

It’s O.K.

I’ll be O.K.

:/

Now I trim away the excess silver from around the bezel wire leaving a couple of millimeters as a border.

IMG_7486

And then I cut away all of the silver plate inside of the bezel wire.

IMG_7488

You don’t have to do this when making a bezel setting. I just like to sink the stone down into its surround a little more to try to give it more depth.

If you want to try this make sure to saw as close to the inside edge as possible otherwise you’re going to have to do a lot of filing.

IMG_7489

And that gets boring real soon.

The end result should see the cabochon passing through this first step of the bezel without it getting caught on the sides.

IMG_7490

IMG_7491

Just in case you were wondering we’re still on the rise bit of the project so try not to worry too much.

Now I stamp and cut out some leaves.

I found these little beauties

IMG_7492

HERE

I try not to buy much from overseas, but in this instance I couldn’t resist.

I was having one of my bored Sunday buying days.

Nice stamp though.

IMG_7495

Once they’re trimmed I push them against the edge of my block to give them some dimension.

IMG_7496

I’m all about dimension.

Except around my waistline of course.

That can be as flat as it wants with no complaints from me.

 Next the garnet bezel.

I’m using a 5mm garnet cabochon which I found at Rio Grande.

And this is the tubing that I used to set it.

IMG_7481

If you haven’t got one of these special little glob on a stick things you’ve got to get one.

Aside from coming in very handy they just make me smile.

IMG_7463

I’m sure there are lots of other fun stuff you can do with them aside from picking up small things that don’t want to be picked up and, of course, you could easily make your own out of wax, but even when I’m not using mine I sometimes have to look over at it and give it a wink.

Just sayin’.

I used it in this instance to pick up the garnet and measure it with this gauge tool.

I’ve got to tell you that this is another one of my smiling tools.

It’s just so simple and neat.

And here the two of them are doing their stuff together.

Brings tears to the eyes…

IMG_7464

O.K. so I measured the height of the garnet and then marked out the length of the tubing.

IMG_7465

I cut the tube with my new favourite tube tool.

IMG_7466

And sat back admiring my work.

Again.

IMG_7467

Now I use the corresponding bur bits to drill out a seat for the garnet.

IMG_7471

This takes a bit of practice and a steady hand as there’s not much room to play with if you chose this method to make the bezel.

The first couple of times I made one I gave up on ever being able to do it properly.

But.

This is still not the fall of the Willow Creek Jasper.

I know you’re getting anxious.

So there’s hope.

Always hope.

Again, there are different ways to do this, but this is the way that I’ve found works for me.

I take an old pair of flat nose pliers and hold the tube against a wooden block and gently drill out the middle, first using the round bur.

IMG_7472

Up until now I’ve found that the tube easily slips out from the pliers if you’re not paying attention.

But then.

I had a brain burst and got out an old pair of plastic tipped pliers which I rarely use because they don’t have a spring handle and I don’t like them as much as my other pair.

These grip the tube so much better and I’m not worried about ruining the plastic stuff as I never use them anyway.

Win win.

IMG_7476

(Update: The heat from the drill bit melts the plastic stuff so it doesn’t work after all. Man! I was so excited as well. I’m going to see if I can’t drill some tube sizes into an old pair of pliers, or something like that.)

After using the round bur to drill away to the depth you need you go in with the setting bur.

This one creates a little ledge for the stone to sit on.

Check out the fit as you go along using the fun goo stick thing.

IMG_7474

Use your beeswax or Bur Life as you drill.

IMG_7479

I prefer the beeswax as the Bur Life is too crumbly for me.

And voila!

IMG_7478

The stone should sit level in the bezel cup and deep enough for the edges to be pushed over the slope of the stone.

With practice this is possible.

My theory is.

If somebody else can do it. So can I.

Be strong.

Now I place all of the components on a sheet of 22 gauge fine silver to outline where I need to saw the sheet to prepare for soldering.

IMG_7497

And so begins the downfall of the Willow Creek Jasper…

IMG_7499

It all started innocently enough.

A phone call with P.

Another cup of tea.

Some yelling at Willow who has taken to barking all of the time wherever she is and whether she wants to or not.

P thinks it’s because she’s deaf and old and becoming senile.

I think that’s a bit harsh.

Deaf maybe.

You can yell at her all day and she won’t hear you.

But look at her.

🙂

IMG_5515

So basically I was distracted and didn’t know it.

And so happily continued on my way

IMG_7502

Until everything was nicely soldered.

IMG_7505

Except for the little balls which needed a slight adjustment.

Nothing much to worry about.

Except for the fact that I had soldered the bezel collar upside down which might not have been a problem except that the stone really really didn’t look as good this way up as it would the way I had intended it to be.

I could have continued with it, but it would have bugged me every time I looked at it and as I’ve decided to really try to make the best jewelry I can and also didn’t want to begin over, I reheated the piece and took the whole lot off and re soldered it the correct way up.

IMG_7507

A little tricky as, if you remember, I had cut the inside of the bezel away and now had to try to solder it back on again with no wiggle room whatsoever.

Here’s a trick to removing already soldered components.

If you just want to remove one item then heating it and picking it off with your tweezers is good enough, but if like me, you want to remove everything, it can be difficult to keep the heat spread evenly enough to loosen everything at once as one side invariably cools just enough for the solder to harden again.

So basically, just as you get one side of whatever it is you’re trying to remove loose the other side becomes soldered again and you can end up going backward and forward in a never ending spiral of desperation until you either melt the stuff accidentally, or more likely on purpose, as you’re so very frustrated and annoyed with it all.

To ward against flinging your torch across the room at this point and setting the room on fire I find that if you turn the whole piece over and heat it from the back it gets everything glowing nicely and evenly and then you can quickly turn it back over and pluck the pieces off easily.

Of course then you have to chance that one of the components will fly off the tweezers and burn a hole in your leg so that you’ll never be able to walk again.

Fortunately this time I was saved by the towel.

IMG_7506

Always pluck carefully.

Now, of course, because of the traumatic rescue, the whole bezel setting is a complete mess and solder has flown everywhere including into places that you never knew it could flow into.

And also the little border I cut out at the beginning was a little messy and uneven.

To even up the border I marked the outline with a sharpie which helped me see the areas I needed to file away.

I have to admit that I cheated here by using one of those handy little flat burs.

IMG_7508

Even so, it took some time.

A few moments of, Man! Why can’t you get anything right.

And another cup of tea.

But eventually I cleaned it up, and soldered that pesky leaf back on which had decided that with all the fun going on it would take a little field trip.

Next up I cut away the excess silver.

IMG_7509

Filed it and added a bale.

Then I cut away the back design.

IMG_7510

Just so’s you know, the flower design is upside down here on purpose and has nothing to do with the fiasco above.

The top half of the back of the cabochon isn’t as nice as the bottom and I wanted a nice colour to show through.

Then I cleaned it up some more with the flat bur and trimmed away the collar to the best height for the stone.

IMG_7513

And gave it a good scrub with the Penny Brite and a toothbrush.

IMG_7511

At this point I wasn’t too sure about how to hang the bottom garnet as, although wire wrapped tear drop beads are nice, I felt it would be a little too unfinished for this piece.

So I made it special home.

Yes, I know.

It looks like a cow bell.

IMG_7520

Then, relieved that the struggle was almost over, I blackened it with Black Max, buffed it as much as I could, and set the stone.

IMG_7521

After setting the stone I covered it with blue tape and buffed some more.

IMG_7522

Once I’d got it to the point I was happy with I got out the setting tools for the smaller garnet.

IMG_7523

These are neat little punches that hug the round of the bezel cup and, as you hammer the top gently, push the bezel over the stone.

IMG_7525

It’s a bit freaky when you first start using them as you just know you’re going to damage the stone.

But it works well if you take your time.

IMG_7524

And so there you have it.

I’m still not sure about the bottom garnet, and might change it up, but on the whole I like it.

Especially as now the stone is the right way up…

IMG_7528

Here are a few others that I just finished.

IMG_7514
Turquoise

 

IMG_7515
Back

 

IMG_7516
Flamingo Rose Agate

 

IMG_7517
Back

 

IMG_7518
Green Opal

 

IMG_7519
Back

Now I’m off out to yell at Willow again because she’s driving me nuts!

It really only makes me feel better as she can’t hear me at all…

Finally!

I’ve got some things done.

It’s been like pulling teeth.

Every day I go into the studio just to find some excuse to take a break.

Even after just fifteen minutes.

When I can’t find a reason to leave the studio I just decide that I’m so thirsty I’ll die if I don’t get a drink stat!

What’s all that about?

Remember this.

IMG_6925

That wouldn’t cooperate and decided that it just didn’t want to be made even though it deigned to pose to show you what you can do with all your broken pick sticks.

Well it took me three days by Jove, but eventually I was able to finish it in-between all the drink breaks and consequent rest room trips.

IMG_6940
Chalcedony

Not completely sure about the beads though.

IMG_6942

And I ordered an I.D. stamp.

Ain’t it cool 🙂

From Infinity Stamps.

They’re very expensive, but I’ve had one before and I really like the quality.

You just design your logo and send them the pic.

IMG_6944

It also took me five years to make these.

IMG_6971
Ocean Jasper
IMG_6974
Ocean Jasper and Chalcedony

In the meantime, while I was procrastinating going into the studio by ordering more stuff, I bought a sand casting kit.

IMG_6934

The wrong one as it turns out.

It all looked so easy on the videos, but man, that sand went everywhere. I even got some in my mouth.

It was like I was a child again.

O.K. still…

I couldn’t keep my space clean to save my life, yet the man on the video didn’t get a grain out of place.

It was very depressing.

My first casting came out so horribly that I just packed all the stuff back into the box in disgust and put the whole thing down as a waste of money.

But I really, really wanted to do it 🙁 and if that man could do it, so could I damn it!

I’d bought it on Amazon and decided to go back there to buy some different sand and try again.

The same sand that the annoyingly good at it man used.

And, while cursing myself that I always get things wrong, I decided to read the reviews on the kit I’d bought.

Now I always read the reviews before I buy anything.

Always… except for this time.

Should’ve read the darn reviews.

Everyone complained about the sand, and when I came to think about it, I couldn’t quite remember why I had bought the brand I’d gone for in the first place when it was more expensive than the brand I’d originally gone onto Amazon to compare pricing on.

The funk’s messing with my brain man!

Then I got a bit ticked off because it was 120 odd dollars and it didn’t work even though it said, new and improved sand, in big letters on the tub.

That should’ve been my first clue.

So in a fit of determination I sent the whole package back even though I’d used the sand and the casting flask had burn marks around the funnel area where I’d poured the silver in.

I told them on the little return box that I’d used it, but that it was horrible, but Amazon refunded me straight away, even before the company had received my parcel back.

I was quite impressed.

Don’t know if the sand casting people are going to be though.

Now I’ve ordered the one I wanted in the first place.

173-015

Stay tuned…

Emboldened I next contacted a nice lady on FB who reps for JoolTool.

I’d decided that I’d had enough of defective tools and products.

If you remember some of the discs that came with my JoolTool (seven of them!) kept spinning off the spindle when I was using them because their threads had worn or something.

These things are expensive and so are the adhesive pads and papers that you stick to them.

Diamond-Hard-Stone-Kit-300x300

I mean this bunch right here cost over $400!

(I shouldn’t have looked at the price…)

I’d already contacted the shop a couple of months ago and no one had answered me, so I was feeling pretty taken.

BUT this rep was great and Anie, the product designer and owner, phoned me and walked me through fixing them and now they are perfect and ready to go!

Great result.

Great customer service.

Very happy camper right here.

To celebrate I have a little pair of earrings you can make.

IMG_6964

All for you 🙂

First take 18 gauge sterling silver wire and wrap it around a mandrel six times.

IMG_6947

I’ve used the largest ring on this pair of pliers.

It always irritates me when I get this particular pair of pliers out because I can’t remember why there is a number 1 and an asterisk on them.

I don’t think I put it on them, but why would I buy a pair that were marked?

Just another of life’s mysteries to mess with my mind…

Now snip and solder them.

IMG_6948

Shape them into rough ovals and haphazardly hammer them.

IMG_6950

And group them into threes.

IMG_6952

As always I’ve forgotten the next photo which would have been of making a loop out of a thicker piece of wire.

I used 8 gauge half round wire.

Now loop the three wires through it and solder the top of the loop together.

IMG_6953
Because the half round wire is thick I left the top of it shaped as a teardrop instead of trying to get it perfectly round.

Now find two large silver balls that you have in your silver ball scrap box and solder one onto the rounded part of the thick tear drop ring.

The next photo’s are fuzzy, sorry. I tried hard to get good ones, but, as good as I am, I couldn’t hold everything at once.

Hold the tear drop point facing down in your third hand tweezers.

If you haven’t already got third hand tweeter, get some.

They’re invaluable.

Saves a lot of hospital visits.

Now make sure that all of the soldered areas of the thin large rings are facing down away from the tear drop and place one of those old pick sticks through the tear drop to separate the three rings from the soldered part of the tear drop.

This will help prevent the tear drop solder flowing onto the three rings while you’re soldering the ball onto the round part of the tear drop.

Capisce!

IMG_6956

Put some flux on top of the round end of the tear drop and on the bottom of the ball.

Heat the bottom of the ball and pick up a melted ball of solder with it.

IMG_6961

Now heat up the round end of the tear drop and solder the ball onto it.

Turn the tear drop over and clasp it in the third hand, again putting the broken pick stick between the bottom of the three rings and the inside of the round end of the tear drop as before.

IMG_6958

Get a little jump ring and place it in your third hand with the join facing downward and put some flux on the bottom of the jump ring and on the tear drop end of the large ring.

Gently heat the jump ring and pick up a small piece of solder as you did with the ball.

Now heat the tear drop end keeping the jump ring away from the flame, but close enough to stay heated and when the solder is ready touch the jump ring to the tear drop end.

IMG_6960

Pickle the earrings.

Make some ear wires.

And polish the way you desire.

And voilà!

Your earrings are ready.

IMG_6964

Now you can knock yourself out and make as many variations as you want.

IMG_6966

I tried a different way to connect the ear wire here, but don’t like it as much as the other way.

Always good to experiment though

😉

I leave you with the progress of the painting.

IMG_6978

And,

you might want to look away…

a poor me sawing injury

because when you’re in a funk normal activities take on a life of their own and like to do things to make you swear.

IMG_6929
I’ve made it small for grossing out purposes.

A lot.

For Nancy.

The end caps.

You can make these plain or textured, wonky or straight, rustic or perfect, but these are the way I made mine for the pieces you’ve seen.

I use fine silver.

I buy all of my sheets in fine silver and most all of my wire in sterling. I like to use fine silver for my bezel settings because it doesn’t tarnish like sterling.

Sterling tarnishes when exposed to air because it has a little more base metal in it than fine silver. Sterling is .925 silver and fine silver is .999 making it purer. PMC is also .999 as is Thai Silver.

Just love the Thai Silver 🙂

Back to the project…

Cut a strip of 24 gauge sterling silver, or fine silver, sheet and texture it with a favourite stamp.

IMG_6598

I have a selection of stamps from the Indian Jewelry Supply store – HERE

It’s like christmas every time I look at them.

Cut a manageable length off the strip and wrap it around a mandrel.

IMG_6602

You might need to anneal the silver to do this as stamping, hammering, or any work you do to a piece of silver hardens it. Annealing the metal by running a soft flame over it until it changes colour and then quenching it, softens it again making it easy to work with.

Some people don’t quench afterward as they say the silver hardens again, but, as you may know by now, I’m too impatient to wait for it to cool on its own and I’ve found that quenching doesn’t really affect the results I want for this project.

When you’re annealing be careful not to melt the metal. It just takes practice. If it does start to melt no worries as you can then practice your reticulation skills, but that’s for another day… 😉

You want the silver to just begin to turn a dull pinkish color then take your flame away.

Now you can bend it around the mandrel until the two ends meet for soldering.

IMG_6600

The mandrel can be anything that is the shape and diameter you want. I often use anything on hand. The shanks of my stamps or dapping tools, wooden dowels, but better still are the mandrel sets that come with a jump ring maker.

Like this

116581.jpg

As you then have a selection which will last you forever and you can more easily match the mandrel diameter to the size of bead you’re using.

I’ll be using 8mm beads for these tube ends.

Now solder the seam.

IMG_6603

Once soldered you can cut the tube into the lengths you want either by hanging it over the edge of your bench pin.

IMG_6604

Or by using some other way to keep the tube secure as you saw.

This is an old paintbrush.

For this method, slowly turn the tube and gradually saw around the circumference for an even cut.

IMG_6611

Now you can put the smaller lengths of tube back onto the mandrel so that it just overhangs a couple of mm’s making it easier to file the ends straight.

IMG_6605

At this point you can decide whether to keep your tubes straight or make them wonky.

I like wonky.

So I use one of my dapping things to hammer into the tube to flare out the ends slightly.

IMG_6608

And then I might even hammer them down even more to wrinkle them.

I haven’t done that here, but just so you know all of my secrets…

IMG_6609

The next step is to punch out the silver discs which will be the end caps of the tubes.

I like them to be just a fraction larger than the tube, (including the flared out diameter), as you’re going to dome them and this reduces the diameter of the disc.

IMG_6613

Now you can use a hole punch or a drill to make a hole in the center of the discs.

IMG_6616

I’ve found the easiest way to use a hole punch is to mark exactly where you want the hole to be with a sharpie and then place the bottom of the punch over the mark.

Then you can see exactly where to punch.

IMG_6614

Now you will shape the discs into the caps using a dapping block.

IMG_6618

If you don’t have these tools you can perhaps use makeshift ones.

Making shallow holes in blocks of wood, for instance, may make a good substitute for the dapping block. You can also round off a matching dowel piece to use as the punch.

For the discs you will have to either saw them or snip them. You can then file them down when they’re soldered to the tube.

At this point you are going to solder the caps onto the tubes.

You can solder the first cap from the inside.

IMG_6620

But will solder the second cap onto the top.

IMG_6619

Warning:

You can only do this if there is at least one hole in the silver for the hot air to escape.

If you do not leave a hole the heat will build up inside and the piece will explode!

It will fly away from the soldering board and, if you’re as lucky as me, will probably land on your body.

And it will hurt.

IMG_6621

Now clean up the edges of the caps with a file and sanding board.

IMG_6623

And they are pretty much done.

IMG_6624
These are my ‘rustic’ ones, but you can make these so that the joins don’t show. It will just take more precise measuring and filing, etc.

IMG_6626
Here’s what I did with mine.

IMG_6629
🙂

I’m a jump right in person. You?

Of course this doesn’t always go according to plan.

I’m just a little too impatient to read all the books and watch all the YouTube how too’s.

I just like to look at the pictures and wing it.

So I’ve made a few of no go’s over the years, and that’s o.k. as sometimes new ideas come from them.

I tell you this as I just want to remind you that, for most of the time, I don’t really know what I’m doing. I would hate for you to think that I have the best advice out there, even reasonably o.k. advice.

But I just love making stuff and think that if you want to have a go at something you should just do it without thinking you have to be some kind of expert at it who never makes mistakes.

Here’s a mistake.

IMG_6559
19 gauge sterling silver wire using an 8mm mandrel.

Oh yes, it looks all fine and dandy I know, but it’s stiff and lifeless.

The gauge of wire is too thick for the diameter of the ring and the chain can’t move freely.

Now, I know that when you’re using rings to make a chain you need to know the ratio between the wire gauge and the diameter of the ring.

Yep. I know that.

But when I want to make something and I get excited I ain’t got no time to go looking for a chart or read the books, so I eyeball it, make a wish, and have a go.

Don’t try this at home folks.

Actually I wasn’t far off. I think half a millimeter may have done it.

Or maybe one.

(See, I’m doing it again.)

Don’t do it people!

Get a chart.

(I haven’t found a chart yet but I’m looking.)

If you have a chart I want one in millimeters, not fractions. I can’t be doing with all of that 5/16 stuff unless you’ve also got a chart for turning 16th’s into millimeters.

Math is NOT fun for me.

Web surfing is, however, so I’m off to find my chart as soon as I finish up here.

So the chain wasn’t a waste of time really, because I also decided that sterling silver hurt my fingers too much. But using sterling silver wasn’t a waste of time either as I soldered each link perfectly, not always a regular occurrence, so that was pure satisfaction right there.

See.

So next up I made another chain, this time using 20 gauge fine silver with the 8mm mandrel.

Much better, but I’m going to make another today using the 8.5 mandrel.

You should have a go if you haven’t yet.

It’s fun.

And the sense of accomplishment having made your own chain is a wonderful thing.

Warning: I may have mentioned that I still haven’t got ‘the chart’ so you might want to wait until you, or I, find one or I actually make a chain that’s perfect.

Don’t hold your breath on that last part.

So.

Single Loop Chain.

(This is going to be boring for people who already do this, so stop reading now unless you need a nap)

20 gauge fine silver 8mm mandrel

Make your jump rings and fuse them together.

IMG_6560

I use a hard charcoal block for this.

The most important thing to remember when fusing silver is to make sure that you have no gaps in-between the two parts you are fusing together. The join has to be completely touching. If you have any gap at all, however tiny, the ring may fuse, but you can end up with a thin area of the ring which will be weaker than the rest of it.

So preparation is key.

Place the rings on the block with the joins all facing the same way. If you’ve done your job right and the ends are flush against each other it can be really hard to see where the join is so this eliminates that problem.

You want your flame to be a little softer than perhaps you usually use so you can turn down the pressure on your regulator a little to get it to a nice balance that will heat the silver, but isn’t so fierce that it melts it.

Now keep the flame moving around the ring until you see it just start to change, then quickly hover it over the join and take it away immediately the silver flows.

Keep the flame there too long and it will melt into a ball. Then you just continue to melt the ring and add it to your ball collection.

This might grow considerably as you practice.

It’s o.k. 😉

You want to keep the flame moving around the ring as the whole ring should be brought to the same temperature. If you get a gap, or a thin area, where the join is you either had a gap there to begin with or you have heated one side of the ring a little more than the other and the silver has gathered there pulling itself away from the join.

It’s just practice.

You don’t need any solder or flux to fuse these fine silver rings together.

Now you are going to stretch the rings out using a pair of round nose pliers.

IMG_6563

Try to keep the rings at the same place on the pliers each time you stretch one as you want your shape to be as consistent as possible. I use the tips about 2mm down. You can mark the pliers with a sharpie or tape if you need to.

It’s at this point in the game that you’ll discover if your joins are fused properly.

It’s good to find this out now rather than later, so either re-fuse the broken ones or add them to your ball collection.

IMG_6564

Now squeeze the middle together.

IMG_6565

And bend them in the center.

IMG_6566

IMG_6548

Use a length of wire, (I’ve used copper here), to anchor one end of the link and push the top ends together.

IMG_6567

Now you can slide another link into the first.

IMG_6569

To do this you may have to squeeze one end of the second link together slightly so that it fits through the hoop in the top of the first link.

sorry about the photo.
sorry about the photo.

Also you can push an awl, or your center punch, through the hoop you wish to thread the next one into to widen it slightly.

IMG_6534
Now you just continue to make the chain until you get to the length you need.

IMG_6570

Once it’s completed, anneal the chain by gently running the flame backward and forward over it until the surface of the silver just changes slightly, and then quench it.

For the next part you’ll need a draw plate.

IMG_6555

I bought mine HERE, but you can find them anywhere, and any kind will do. I just drilled a hole through an old piece of wood before mine arrived.

Once the chain is annealed pull it through the draw plate to even up the links and make it look beautiful.

IMG_6557
You just want to even up everything at this point and not stretch it so be careful which hole you pull it through.

The chain will be crunchy afterward so just loosen it up in your fingers and then voilà!

You are done.

Finish it however you prefer, I like to blacken mine, and then make something extraordinary with it.

Go on. You know you want to.

🙂

P.S. Remember Ann Cahoon has a great visual tutorial on chain making – HERE

And the winner is…

O.k so it’s not a winner exactly, but I felt that since we had talked about the chain I’m still impressed with myself for making, that it’s something of a big reveal to show you what I did with it.

And so, without further ado,

Open the curtains please…

dreamstime_xs_38801734

The Bracelet.

Dah daaah.

IMG_6443

Lol

Bit of a let down really.

Made myself chuckle though.

And

Just because I like you, here’s a new link.

Take a manageable length of 16 gauge sterling silver wire and hammer it flat and file the end.

IMG_6431

Now make a small curve with your round nose pliers at the flattened end.

IMG_6430

Still using your round nose pliers shape the wire into a link so that the small curve is on the inside.

As you close up the link push the wire past the end it’s to be soldered to so that when you wiggle it back into place the ends of the wire will be touching.

Annoying I know, but the two ends have to touch to solder.

IMG_6432

As you form the link match it to a master link.

IMG_6435

This way you’ll always be checking it against the same size and it will be easier to keep them consistent.

IMG_6434

Now cut the link from the remaining wire

IMG_6436

And make it a couple of friends.

IMG_6426

When you have as many as you need pick solder the ends together.

IMG_6438

With just the tiniest pieces of solder.

IMG_6437

Now trim them and file the ends smooth.

IMG_6439

And join them together with a soldered jump ring.

IMG_6441

Then you can go to town with making another bracelet.

IMG_6449

Because you’re on a roll.

🙂

Sorry that a few of the photo’s are bad quality, but you get the drift.

O.K. So while I’ve been gone…

Nothing what so ever has happened!

It’s just been a weird month that plugged into my hypochondriacal, so I’m going to die now am I, self, which only stopped yesterday afternoon.

Nope it wasn’t big.

Loads of people go through it.

BUT

I didn’t like it and I felt really really sorry for myself and really really annoyed that I was feeling sorry for myself and everything screeched to a stop as I planned for how I was going to react to my biopsy being positive.

Told you.

Hypochondriac.

Actually my doctor said that she had seen hypochondriacs and that I wasn’t one, but I’m pretty good at hiding my secret life of health anxiety so she didn’t know that I had already planned my funeral and given away all of my jewelry tools.

(Penny, you would have hit the jackpot! Especially as my imminent death didn’t stop me from buying more.)

Sooooo,

That’s about it folks.

I made it.

I’m still here.

And now that’s over I’m going to take my jewelry to the next level.

Again.

In other new.

My dad’s here so that has also slowed down my days.

But I did manage to finish a piece for Leslie.

IMG_6380
Blue Opal and Ocean Jasper
IMG_6382
Back

 I’ve also finished a second piece for Leslie to consider, but I don’t like it and can’t concentrate as much as I would like to at the moment on making something better.

And before dad arrived I made a chain.

IMG_6355

My first.

IMG_6359

And I was pretty darn pleased with myself.

I started on a double one, but got the gauge wrong and haven’t been able to start another yet.

If you want to make chains this is a really good dvd.

And they’re really not as fiddly as you think they’re going to be.

Of course I haven’t got on to the triple double o.m.g. one yet so I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Throughout my trauma Spud has slept.

IMG_6386

Without a care in the world.

IMG_6387

Just to rub it in.

IMG_6412

But I still love her.

Even though I had to restock on phone charging wires and computer leads.

She doesn’t discriminate. P’s leads are as much in danger as mine.

And she comes onto the bed at all hours of the night when she decides she needs to spend a couple of hours purring next to a human head at decibels exceeding those made by a pneumatic drill.

It’s all good.

And finally, to all of my cyber friends who need a boost.

I have found our new motto…

11403210_547087752107416_8468875211891022939_n

May all your s#@* be amazing…