Simple Chain Making

Friday, November 16, 2012

Use pre-formed jumprings to create cold and hot connection chains. By Clair Wolfe.

Clair is a self-taught jewellery designer and maker who enjoys all aspects of designing and creating jewellery. Clair likes to try to demystify the processes of jewellery making by breaking them down step by step to make them achievable by all. For this month's technique page, Clair shows you how to make very simple chain using pre-formed jumprings and rings. The first will show cold connection where the only tools needed are two pairs of flat nose pliers and a supply of jumprings.Creating individual chains for each design, allows you to create chains of a specific length and with a wide array of jumpring sizes. A chain containing different sizes and textures of jumpring can make a beautiful necklace to wear, without the addition of any pendant or embellishments.

Materials:

 
5mm, 6mm, 8mm & 10mm Sterling silver jumprings

10mm diamond cut decorative jumpring

5mm diamond cut decorative jumprings

Various clasps

Easy, medium & hard
solder paste

Torch

Pickle

Third hand (not essential)

Two pairs of needle/chain/flat nose pliers  

Various files

Polishing pads/paper

 

Designer Tips:

  
Customise chains to your own specific design, mixing ring sizes for interesting results

Use a low flame while soldering - too much heat will warp/damage the ring

Add textured closed rings in the cold connection chain

 

 Cold Connection

Lay out pattern

The secret is to close the jumprings as neatly as possible. Starting with jumprings in the size required for the design, lay them out in the order that they will be used. Then start from one end and work your way through the design. 40cm is
a good standard length for a chain, but can be easily altered with the removal or addition of jumprings.  

Open jumpring

Use two pairs of flat/needle nose pliers to gently open the jumpring. To do this, position the pliers as shown in the picture. Whilst holding the pliers, quarter-turn one hand towards you and one hand away, just enough to allow the next jumpring to slip in. Do not open jumprings by pulling outwards, as it is near impossible to close again without distorting the ring.

Neaten closure

Once the next jumpring has been added, the open ring is ready to be closed; do this by reversing the motion in the previous step. Work the jumpring back and forth several times until you feel the metal stiffen. Do not overwork as this may snap the jumpring. The aim of this process is to close the ring as tightly as possible and to harden the metal.

Check finished chain

If needed, use the one of the pliers to gently push the gap closed from the top and the bottom of the jumpring. Once the chain is the required length, work along the length to ensure all are closed neatly. You should be able to run your fingernail over the closure
and not feel any ridge.

Hot Connection

Close links

Use the cold connection steps to close individual jumprings. Ensure that each ring is closed as neatly and tightly as possible; this will help the soldering process. The solder should fuse the joint, as solder should not be used to 'fill' gaps. Paint flux onto the joints of all the jumprings; this will help the solder to flow and help prevent fire scale.  

Soldering

Add hard solder to the joint of each jumpring, then use a small flame (a handheld torch is perfect for this job) to evenly heat each jumpring. Keep the flame moving over the rings until the solder melts and then flows; remember solder flows toward the heat. Once the solder has flowed remove the heat. Use either solder strip or paste for this; paste is easier to position.

Link jumprings

Once soldered, allow rings to cool completely. Next use an open jumpring to link two of the soldered rings together. Close as in previous steps and flux; this time use a medium solder paste. Repeat this process once again, this time using an easy solder. It is helpful, but not essential to use third hand tweezers as this will allow easier access
with the flame and protect the soldered rings.

File excess solder

Once all jumprings have been soldered and the chain is completed, place in a pickle bath, to remove any oxidization. Once pickled, remove the chain, rinse and dry. Check each link and if necessary re-solder any links and re-pickle. Once you are happy that all of the links are soldered, use various files and emery papers to remove any excess solder on each jumpring if needed.

Polish

There are several ways that you can finish your chain. Polish by hand using polishing papers, pads and cloths for a subtle sheen. Use a tumbler for a brighter finish (finer chains may become tangled). For a bright shine, use a polishing machine or pendant drill with tripoli and rouge. When using a polishing machine, take care that the chain doesn't get caught up and damaged. Add a clasp and bead charm.

 

Resources:

All materials and tool are available through Cookson Gold

Cookson Precious Metals Ltd 

www.cooksongold.com

Birminghamsales@cooksongold.com

0845 1001122, 0121 200 2120

 

Xuron Pliers available through CJ Beaders

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