Monday, March 17, 2008

Workin' on the Chain Gang

Last week I was fortunate enough to be a part of a workshop on chainmaking. Jean wrote the book (literally) on chains, which is called "Classical Loop-in-Loop Chains and Their Derivatives." We had time to learn five or six different types of chains, but very few of us completed any of them. It is a time consuming process, and the priority was to learn how to do these patterns to be finished later at home. The first step is cutting all the little links, sometimes one or two hundred of them, depending on the chain you are making. Then they must all be fused, one by one, so they'll stay nice and tight when you eventually form them into their pattern. I melted a LOT of links last week. There's a knack to heating the wire so it fuses just right.

Here are some silver examples Jean brought along:

And here are some gold:

One of the designs for a chain involved making what Jean calls a "Heracles knot." I liked it so much I made a pair in 22K gold with blue lapiz beads hanging from below.

The only chain I actually completed in class was this bracelet, which is called a "foldover link." The most difficult part was heating the metal to form all the silver balls on each link exactly the same size. Mine came out a little too big, so I'll have to be more careful the next time I attempt this.