5/11/10

The Little Blob Link Bracelet

A bunch of us on the team are taking part in a charm swap again. We had so much fun the first time that new members really wanted to do it too and some of us, me included, jumped at the chance to trade charms again.

The last time, our swap hostess Teresa Boland gathered enough charms so that we got to assemble two extra bracelets and they were donated to worthy causes. We are going to do that again this time because we really liked sharing our good fortune at receiving all these beautiful charms made by our enthusiastic members.

I made two fused and textured bracelets last time and one of them went with a set of the charms to our first chosen charity and the other one I kept for my own team charms.

I learned to fuse fine silver wire from Anne Mitchell and I've made plenty of fused chains in the last five years. Recently I began working on a new style of fused chain that was inspired by another etsy seller, Kathy Van Kleeck. She makes some wonderfully organic fused sterling silver chains to accompany her hand formed fine silver PMC links. While I don't know exactly how she makes her necklaces, I was excited to start experimenting in my own way to fuse some fine silver wire links into a handmade bracelet that could eventually hold my new set of charms. I also wanted to share this technique with my team members and our current charm swap hostess Kelly Fehr.

This is what I came up with (click on each photo for a bigger view):


And this is how I made it:

I found myself a wooden dowel that wasn't too big. For this small chain, I got one that runs about 5/16th inch.


That's 7.5 to 8 millimeters in diameter.


I also used:

20 gauge fine silver wire and I wrap it snuggly around the dowel


a commercially made sterling silver clasp
a 5 millimeter 18 gauge sterling silver jump ring to attach the clasp

cutting pliers
chain nose pliers
OR
needle nose pliers


a small hand held butane torch - I like this one in particular for the small gauge of wire I use in this project as other more heavy duty ones can be too hot.


Check it out here where there are some instructions for use.

a fire brick that you can get from any ceramics store, with some grooves scraped into it


a bowl of water for quenching the hot silver

a tumbler with stainless steel shot for smoothing and polishing your chain

Optional extras:

-your charms
-handmade PMC bead caps
-18 gauge 6 millimeter sterling silver jump rings - one for each charm
-liver of sulphur for patina
-fine silver wire in various gauges so you can make balled head pins to attach beads or charms
-silver polishing pads or cloth
-gems, pearls, beads

So, after you've wrapped the 20 gauge wire around the dowel, pull the coil off and cut the links apart. Make as many as you think you'll need. My bracelet has 28 links. You can also make extra links if you want to. You could make two bracelets and use one for charms and another for pearls and you'll get more practice.


next, you want to bend each link like this:


then cross those two ends to make a piece that looks like this:


Here is the tricky part where you will need some practice to get good. You could start with a thicker gauge of wire, like 18 or 16 gauge which can be much easier to fuse, especially if you are a beginner.

Anyway, let's say you have practiced.

I like to turn the light low, turn on the torch and have my link on the firebrick. I use a small quiet flame and slowly heat up the link:


It is going to start to get orange hot and I keep heating until it just begins to look a little shiny:


Now look at this next photo and how much brighter it looks at the join.


That is the optimum moment to point the flame at that spot and it will melt together very quickly. It's most important to remove the flame as soon as you see it melt together because a split second later the whole link can melt and split apart and roll into a ball and be lost forever.

I told you it was tricky!

After this step, it's okay to quench in a bowl of water.


This is what the first link looks like fused and this is when I would take my pair of chain nose pliers and squeeze my blob to make it look a bit less blobby and pointy and more even and smooth and also shape it the way I want it to look:


So now you want to add another link. Here is the set up:


Here is another shallower groove I can set a link this small into:


So remember:

Cut the links:


bend them and cross them:


fuse a few:


and here's a tip to make the process more efficient:

Always link two fused links with one that you are about to fuse instead of fusing one on each time. So when you have a length of chain made, use an open link to attach a new single fused link to the length of chain you already have and you will be adding two at a time.

Here is a relative size comparison:


So when it's done, add the clasp with the jump ring, shape each link, tumble for a couple of hours, give it a patina, polish off the high points so the details show and assemble it with all your charms or beads.

and here are some detail shots (click on each photo for a larger view):








and the oxidized and polished end result:


I know, I am a ham. Enjoy making some chain!

9 comments:

Lore said...

Very nice Catherine !!!
I really like to fuse pure silver too ! ;-)
Love your bracelet !!!
Thanks for sharing !

Zoe Nelson said...

Thanks, Catherine, for the instructions. I'm totally going to do this!

La Bella Luna Jewelry said...

This is right up my alley! Thanks so much for sharing it.

DreamSome said...

Good stuff Catherine, thanks!!

Molli said...

Great post Catherine! Thanks!

Ruth said...

Great bracelet and lovely post Catherine! Thanks for sharing! I love the blobs.

Rachel Kranzberg Miller said...

Love this tutorial Catherine!

Wendy said...

Very cool! I will be trying it as well. Thanks for sharing.

PeculiarForest said...

I so need to make 2 of these for my charms as both sets are still in the plastic bag :S

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