One Fractal Down, on to the Next

When I started the Apples fractal project, I chose to make the yarn end up as a two-ply lace weight yarn. I have a lot of knitting patterns for lace weight yarn, and merino fiber is a really lovely fiber to work with. The sneaky lesson waiting for me was how much longer it takes to do lace weight as opposed to what I normally spin, which is fingering or sock weight two-ply. As you would expect, the thinner the yarn, the longer it takes to spin and ply. Combine that with a move and a thousand other things suddenly taking my attention, and what I could have accomplished in one month ended up taking more like four. Nevertheless, it’s finally done, and I’m very happy with the final yarn.

What’s next, you ask? Wellllllll…… I have another braid of the same merino, dyed in a different (and lovelier) colorway. I’m in the groove of spinning this particular fiber the way I want it, and that’s no small thing. So I decided to just keep on keeping on, and give a nod and a promise to all the OTHER lovely fiber that’s waiting for me.

I’m doing this one as a fractal project, too – the dye pattern is different from the first one and I’m interested to see how it comes out.

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MD36 Catching Up

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


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MD32 A Bit More Than Minimum…

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

Sterling wire ready to make into earrings

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MD31 The Bare Minimum

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.

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MD30 Practice Makes Such a Difference

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

Sterling silver Columbus Chain bracelet

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MD29 More on the Columbus Chain

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

2 sizes of Columbus Chain

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MD28 The 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

Sterling Columbus chain in progress

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MD27 The Bracelet is Done

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

Double-loop-in-loop chain in the drawplate

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MD26 Moss Agate Earrings

Today kind of went sideways. I got my bench vise bolted down this evening, but I’m too tired to tackle my chain tonight. I want to be fresh for that, so tomorrow.

Instead, for today’s project, I made another set of simple earrings. This time I used moss agate beads – it’s such a pretty stone, and I really like this style of earring. I’ll tumble them to strengthen the wires when I finish the bracelet. They can share!

Simple Earrings with Moss Agate

Simple Earrings with Moss Agate

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MD25 More Double-Loop-in-loop

You might have noticed a gap since my last post – we were out of town for the holiday weekend. Never fear, I’m still committed to my 100 Days of Metal so I pick up again at day 25.

Today I continued with the double-loop-in-loop chain that I started last week. I’ve done enough now to make a bracelet for a slender wrist, which will do for this project. At this point it has to be annealed before the next step, so that the metal is nice & soft again.

For that next step, I have to bolt down my bench vise to my workbench. That will be tomorrow morning.

Fine Silver Double-Loop-in-loop chain

Fine Silver Double-Loop-in-loop chain

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