Friday, August 25, 2006

Chains, chains, chains

Let's try this entry again -- I had it all written up a few days ago and Safari "unexpectedly quit" while I was working to get the pictures inserted.

This entry is a retrospective about work I did back in June when I first started doing some jewelry stuff again after a longish dry patch. I spent all my time and energy for a while this spring on counting calories and minutes of exercise -- spent my time on the Walking forum rather than Jewelry Artists or Creative Wire Jewelry. Lost 30 pounds, gained back 5, got a lot more fit. Now I'm trying to keep it up but balance with creativity too.

In late May or thereabouts I got my goodies from the Bulk Wire Buy, including a pound of 16 gauge bronze. My cousin Amy visited for almost a week in June, and at an afternoon up at the lake I got started playing with it. Hard to remember that it was almost chilly that day. We went into the water for just a little while, after our yummy stirfry (we forgot the oil, but it worked anyway. Put crumbles of feta cheese in your stirfry at the end -- it makes sumptuous sauce.) Then we sat at the table and enjoyed the chickadees in the cedars and oaks over us while I made chain and she read His Majesty's Dragon (recommended highly). It was a good day. I went up for a swim and walk and brief picnic a couple of weeks ago. Water practically body-temperature. Air in the shade about 98°; I don't even want to know what it was in the sun. I didn't make any chain, just sort of sauna'd.

The introductory pic above shows the whole group of chains I made in early- to mid-June. I tried out several weaves, but mostly flower-links and Byzantine, and combinations thereof. Here are three versions of flower chain. The all-bronze one was my first - just single flowers connected by single links. If the flowers are in mirror-image pairs, it lies flat like this. If the flowers are all turned the same way, it twists slightly.

The one with little green connectors is done with 16 gauge copper and 20 gauge colored wire from Hobby Lobby. It's pretty difficult to work with that stuff and keep it all looking good, because if your pliers slip, they tend to strip off the green plastic coating.

The copper/bronze bracelet has found a home with Ellen, my mother's caregiver. The bronze flowers are about as massive as you can do them, 5 rings interlocked in each rather than 3 rings. Then they're connected with 18-gauge copper byzantine sections.

The main problem of course with all of these is that, though they polish up beautifully, they don't stay that way, but get dull and dark very quickly with wearing. I'm really looking forward to being able to use more silver again when we get past this leanish patch in the budget. But I've gotten fond of the substantial chains made with 18 and 16 and 14 gauge, and the ounces really add up. My blue-ribbon collar, of which more later, weighs several ounces. It would be really sumptuous in silver, but it's gonna stay base-metal for now.