I’m totally in love with handmade chain these days. I can, of course, buy chain…can even buy it wholesale. Oh, but handmade chain is soooo much more than the sum of its parts. There is something intrinsically exciting about a roll, or rolls, of wire; different shapes, different sizes, even different metals. You can twist it, hammer it, melt the ends into little balls. You can leave it matte, polish it to a mirror-finish, blast it with a bead-blaster or turn it several shades of black, brown, or bronze with Liver of Sulfur. At the end of the day, it’s always going to be more striking, more interesting, and just plain more FABULOUS than machine-made, store-bought, boring old chain.
Firstly, I cut a bunch of pieces of wire. I didn’t measure them, but made them all sort of within a half-centimeter (1/4″) of the same length. I then took my torch and melted little balls onto the ends of the pieces; on some pieces I melted both ends, on some just one.
Then I twisted the pieces into random curly shapes, making sure that with all of them I had a closed “circle” area that would work as a link. I then soldered them together at the contact points and dropped them hot into the pickle to ensure they would be soft and workable when they came out.
Once the links were out of the pickle, I bent them into interesting link-shapes and then hammered them flat on a steel block with my ball-peen hammer (flat side).
I know there’s debate about whether or not to pickle Argentium silver, which is the metal I am using for this chain. I treat my Argentium silver in exactly the same manner as I do my regular sterling silver and have not had any problems with it. I understand it can crack if it’s cooled too quickly, but I’ve never had that happen. I do, however, try and always use Argentium solder rather than regular sterling…it wouldn’t do to have solder tarnish when the metal is staying all pretty and white, which is the whole point to Argentium silver.
I’m hoping this will be my last day of fuzzy pictures. The plan is to buy a tripod tomorrow and I’m actively hunting for light-box tutorials online to help improve my photography. I’ll keep you informed.