Friday, December 30, 2005

the world in your pocket

I've been meaning to post about the little chain I got started with in this current phase of chainmaking. I needed a gift, supposedly under $10 value (but some members seem to be VERY good at shopping!) for the gift-giving at the naturalists' party. I'd been considering it a while. Not-too-expensive, unisex gifts are tricky, especially if making jewelry is your exper-tise. I got the Keren Hill Tribe dragonflies way back months ago with a Master Naturalist gift in mind. I was trying to figure out how to do a tie-keeper chain that could convert into a toggle-fastened bracelet, but without success so far. Then I came across some neat colored key rings and was inspired to do a key chain, using the dragonfly and also one of my remaining polymer clay planets.

Well, the days went by and the party got closer, and still it wasn't made. The evening before I spent making my cathedral cake, which was also an exercise in creativity. So I'm up at 5am to make a chain. Sawed out 16 large and 7 small silver links, and 7 GF ones, and started to put it together. Turned out my links didn't work together. The GF wouldn't encircle the small silver ones, and the silver ones were too tight to hold four large links each plus the space required by the GF one in between. So at 8, when Ellen came, I was cussing and clipping out bigger links with clippers. I got it put together, and it looked nice, but of course the clipped links weren't as good as sawed ones. Moreover, in my
hurry, before I gave up on the saw, I practically wore through the skin of the finger holding the coil with the back side of the blade, which of course is about knife-thin.

chain detail

Well, I did it and got to the party on time, and I hope the gift was appreci-ated. I don't know the name of the woman who got it. But I came home, and worked on improving my sawing technique, and made another one for me. However, this afternoon I gave it instead to Melynda Behrens, my new tenant, when I gave her her keys. But at least I did run outside and get a photograph.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

cutting jumprings, not fingers

Here are the illustrations for my small-time jumpring manufacturing. I wind a coil on a mandrel - here it's 18 gauge copper on a 3/16" rod, which makes rings approximately 5mm ID and 7mm OD. Then I tightly wrap the coil with tape, and slide it onto my saw blade to cut from the inside out. I was concerned that the tape might gum up the sawblade but it doesn't seem to. The tape holds the coil together nicely, and keeps the rings from falling off as each is cut.

When it's all cut through, I simply open up the tape cocoon, and behold, there are my rings.

I tried using my rotary tool with a slitting disk to cut them, but thin as the disk is, it is still way thicker than a fine sawblade, and the results were not satisfactory. Guess I'll stay with hand tools.

The section of 3-in-3 chain with byzantine bits (that is byzantine, right?) was my first effort with these copper rings. On a quiet Christmas Eve with nobody around, I got it finished up into a bracelet. This is the only picture I have, because I gave it away this morning to Ellen without getting another photo. I offered her a choice of several items, and she grabbed the copper chain right away, which was fairly gratifying.

So Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2005


I've been working at making jumprings for some chain and mail experiments. I drool at sites like Urban Maille, and Golden Maille, and The Ring Lord. But I have wire, and time, and NO money, so I have been making my own.

Last week in a BIG hurry, trying to finish a gift before taking it to a party, I had to make a few with wire clippers, but they really are not satisfactory at all. Back when I was taking a silversmithing class, I remember sawing them out of a coil with the coil wedged in a grooved bench pin, and I recall that wasn't very satisfactory either — I couldn't hold them very well. Although any variety of sawed ring is superior to a clipped ring.

This week I started by having a short coil threaded onto my saw blade, and just holding it in my fingers and moving it back and forth over the stationary blade. Works, sort of. (I'm not at any kind of a bench but sitting in the comfortable chair in Isabel's room where it's warm, nattering on to her about my progress, in case she's hearing it.) I did turn out some decent rings. I also nearly wore a cut into my finger with the back edge of the sawblade somehow, without even noticing. Also the blade, even a #6/0, tends to catch in the rings and twist them out of line in the coil.

The last two days I have found a very satisfactory solution. I make the coil and then tightly wrap it with a few thicknesses of the same tape that I use to protect my cracking fingertips. Then I saw through coil and tape, while the rings are held in place, don't wiggle and catch at the sawblade, and don't fall into my lap and get lost as they are cut off. Then I just lay open the cut cocoon of tape, and voila! about three dozen shiny neat rings.

I'll get some pictures of this process tomorrow (that is, later today, since it seems to already be tomorrow, technically).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

learning blogger

No jewelry yet, but I just managed to decipher the HTML of the template enough to make a few changes to the proportions of the page, so that I like it better. May change again, probably, in fact. As I said in a Jewelry Artists post, onward and upward...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

starting out

Well, I just set up this new web journal to use in conjunction with the Winter Season of the Four Seasons of Jewelry on Creative Wire Jewelry. The Winter Season starts tomorrow, so now I have 8 days to make something, and find out how best to post pictures of it. Onward....

Here's a piece of wirework in craft-wire and gold-plated wire that I did a month or so ago, inspired by the Autumn Season posters. Now to get going on a piece every week. Learning something new every day, keeping the brain healthy.