Today I start the second half of my 100 Days of Metal commitment. I haven’t been keeping up with my blog, but I have been at my bench every day. So it’s working!
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve finished 3 bracelets, started a fourth, & read more in my book on hinges & clasps.
Yesterday I pulled out a number of pieces I made years ago for inspiration and, in some cases, refurbishing. It was exciting and really fun to go through them.
Today I started another Byzantine chain. I have set a goal to build an inventory of bracelets. Byzantine, Columbus, Foxtail, and Double-loop-in-loop. Two of each, one for a slender wrist and one for a “normal” wrist ; these two sizes are a half-inch different.
I also read the chapter on hinges in Metalsmith’s Book of Boxes & Lockets by Tim McCreight. This is an excellent book, with clear text and step by step instructions and pictures. I don’t think it’s in print anymore, because the hardcopy version now lists for about $100 and I bought it years ago for $29.99. But the link I provided is to the ebook which is $9.99 for those who are interested.
Today I wore my new Columbus Chain bracelet to my Fiber Guild meeting so I could show it off, and a woman there bought it right off my wrist!
I hadn’t intended to sell it, but when opportunity knocks, it’s crazy to say no. After all, I can make myself another one.
And when I came home, I made more links so I can do just that.
Life has gotten in the way of blogging this week – there is only one of me!
So by way of catching up, here are the things I’ve done since Tuesday.
- Made two pairs of earrings (MD33 & 34)
- Wound more wire to make another Byzantine chain (MD35)
- Annealed & cut those links so they are ready to use (today)
I have also started reading a book about how to make boxes and lockets. I want to spend some play time learning to make things that move.
Sterling silver earrings with carved Burma Jade
Another crazy busy day… But I did take my torch to the ends of all the wires I cut yesterday. This makes them ball up so they’ll hold the pretty earring parts in place.
Sterling wire ready to make into earrings
Today was just busy. So for my Days of Metal project, I put in what I consider the bare minimum.
I’ve been wearing one of the pairs of earrings I made earlier in this series, and I like them a LOT. And if I like that style, probably others would too. I decided to make more, so I’ll have a good inventory of them. I have lots of different beads I can use and it will be fun to play with them.
In that light, today’s minimum effort was to cut enough pieces of sterling wire to make 10 more pairs. Tomorrow I’ll torch the ends so they are ready to go.
I finished the Columbus Chain bracelet, and I’m really pleased with the way it looks. I’m also really pleased with how much my pick soldering skills improved as a result from doing all those links. Today was much better than yesterday: cleaner and faster. So much of this work is muscle memory together with hand-eye coordination.
Sterling silver Columbus Chain bracelet
My new little chain is 3 inches long now after today’s work session. It took 33 links to get there; a side effect of the smaller links, given how they overlap in this pattern.
To give you an idea of the scale, this picture includes a nice shiny example of the larger version I talked about yesterday, this current project, and a US quarter.
The larger chain links are 11.58 mm across. The smaller chain links are 8.5 mm across.
With any luck, I’ll finish this tomorrow. Another 3 inches will make it fit a slender wrist, when the clasp is added.
2 sizes of Columbus Chain
For today’s project, I picked up something I had started long ago and left sitting on my bench.
This particular chain has several names, but my favorite is the Columbus chain. In this story, someone figured out how to make it from a painting of Christopher Columbus where he was wearing one. True? Who knows? But I applaud the ingenuity that would be required to do that, because it is not as simple as it looks.
In the past I have made this sterling silver chain with larger links & heavier wire – it’s really lovely that way. But I thought it would be interesting to make a more delicate version, and that’s what this is.
It also requires soldering each link, so I’m getting the opportunity to brush up on pick soldering. Literally, I take a tiny piece of solder and use a tool called a solder pick to put it on the join for the link, then hit it with the torch to solder it closed.
As you might expect, it took me a few times to start getting back to my old level of skill with this technique. Practice makes better.
Sterling Columbus chain in progress
Is there such a thing as a normal day anymore? Today certainly was not. But I did finish the double-loop-in-loop chain and turn it into a bracelet by adding a clasp.
Once this type of chain is woven, it must be annealed and pulled through a drawplate to even it out. Today’s picture shows the final step, as the chain is being pulled through its third and final hole, each successively smaller.
I then soldered on the clasp, soaked it in hot vinegar to remove all the black from the torch, and tumbled it to make it nice & shiny. The tumbling also adds suppleness & strength.
Double-loop-in-loop chain in the drawplate