Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chainmaking

 

Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chainmaking

 

Lesson Info

Class Overview: Creative Explorations in Chainmaking

So here's what you can expect to learn in this class. We are going to cover the basics of how to make a chain. That includes making jump rings, that includes how to solder that chain, and don't worry if you aren't so comfortable with fire because there are certainly chain-making options that don't require a torch as well. So we're gonna talk about all of those basics, but then I'm gonna show you guys 10 different variables of chain-making so that you can really, really make your chains your own. So we'll talk about how to create different shaped links, from ovals, to squares, to pretty much any shape you guys can imagine, we'll figure out how to make it. We'll also talk about things like playing with different types of metal, playing with the configuration of links, really, when it comes to chain-making, the sky's the limit and I can say that from experience, because I've had my jewelry line now for I think we're pushing 10 years here, and I've been making chain that whole time, and ju...

st when I think there's something else I can't do, even with the one shape that I use, I'm like, "Oh, but I could do this, this, and this," and suddenly I've got a whole new set of designs, and that's what I want for you guys as well. Let's talk about why you should make your own chain. So of course you can go out to the store, you can go to a jewelry supplier, you can go anywhere, and you can buy pre-made chain. And for some applications, that's great, but personally, I really love making your own chain for a few different reasons. First of all, you just have so many possibilities. It really is that creative expression. But beyond that, it lets you add that really personal touch. If you're familiar with my line, you know that I also happen to do a lot of stone-setting, and so I like to add my own chain to my stones because it really gives it its own personality. This is really a way to give your jewelry designs personality, to help them stand out, and of course if you're not trying to have a line, if you just wanna do something fun, this is really an activity that you can do at home, you can make really fun projects, and then really wow people when they say, "Oh, did you make that?" "Yeah, I made that!" "Oh, so you took some chain that you bought?" "Nope, I made the chain." It's really exciting to be able to say that. You'll be able to do that by the end of this class as well. Let's talk about what you're gonna be making in this class, and I really thought a lot about what I wanted you guys to get out of participating in this class. And really the idea here is that this is about creative exploration. I'm gonna show you guys, again, that basic technique, but I'm really gonna show you so many different options. And because of that, I want you guys to make a lot of things, but let's face it, samples, they're okay. They're kind of fun. But what are you really gonna do with a sample? I want you guys to actually come out of this with finished jewelry. I'm gonna give you guys a challenge for this class, and that is, I wanna challenge you to make 10 pairs of chain link earrings with the techniques that you're learning. Every single pair should be different. And I chose earrings because it's a great sample size, right? So if I said I want you to make 10 necklaces, now that's 10 18-inch pieces of chain, right? We're starting to get pretty long there. But 10 earrings is a great way to kind of experiment, try out all the techniques that I want you guys to see, and in the end, you're gonna end up with 10 pairs of earrings that you can make, that you can sell, that you can gift. So this is my challenge to you guys and you'll notice, of course, I put a hashtag in the front of that because I really want you guys to share these on social media, and by the end of the class, not only will we talk about chain, I'll show you guys how to make an ear wire so that you can go ahead and actually turn all these samples into the earring designs. So that's really what I want you to do. Now, just to be fair, I am also gonna teach you guys how to make two different kinds of clasps in this class. We're gonna teach you how to make S-hooks and we're gonna learn how to make toggles. So that way, you can take your favorite designs and you can turn them into bracelets and necklaces as well. So don't worry, you're gonna learn how to make all the jewelry today so that you can do whatever you want to have a full line. The other thing I wanna just talk about really briefly is the tools that you'll need to complete this class. I'm not gonna go into a ton of detail about tools because hopefully you guys checked out those great pre-req videos that we have for this class where I went over the basic hand tools, then we talked a little bit about torch setup, choosing a torch, torch safety, and then we talked about actually the basics of soldering. So I go over tools in detail. But what I really, really love about chain-making is that it actually doesn't require a ton of tools. We have some pliers, we have some wire cutters, we've got our jeweler's saw, an assortment of dowel rods here, this is gonna be the basis for our chain-making, and then some wire. And really with all of that you can create a ton of variation. Now as I mentioned, we're gonna talk about soldering. So I am gonna show you guys how to solder jump rings, how to use the torch, all of those things. But, if you don't have a torch, or you're uncomfortable using a torch, you can still do a lot of what's happening in this class. As you'll see, I'm gonna show you guys a lot of samples that are un-soldered, and as long as you're using thick enough wire and thick enough links, and we'll talk about that more in a minute, you can actually make a lot of chain and not worry about soldering, especially if you're just making chain for yourself to wear. In fact, the earrings that I'm wearing right now aren't even soldered, and they're gonna hold up throughout the day, I'm pretty sure. Don't worry if you don't have a torch, there's still plenty that you can learn in this class. If you've never been in a class here with me and Creative Live, you guys know that I love audience interaction, it's one of my favorite things about being here on Creative Live. So make sure if you're watching online you're sharing, but I would love to pick on our in-studio audience for a minute and just have them share what you're most excited to learn in this class. I'm gonna start with Tracy. Oh, sure. I guess I'm not a big fire person, so I'm really excited that there's a lot that can be done without using the torch. Awesome. I think, like Tracy, I'm not a big fire person, but I'm actually excited to try it. I'm excited to learn about the different shapes that you can make with the chain. I'm excited to learn how to work with wire, I've never done that before. Great. Perfect. Should be a good discovery. Yeah, it's gonna be a really fun day. One of the things that they always kinda say in the metalsmithing world is you're either a sheet person or a wire person, and even though in the previous class we talked all about sheet, I am, at my heart, a wire girl. We're gonna really have fun with that today.

Class Description

Go beyond the basics of handmade chainmaking and discover your own creative voice.

There’s no need to buy boring, store-bought chain. In Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chainmaking, you’ll learn the basics of creating your own handmade chain (including how to get comfortable soldering with a torch) and how to take the basics of chainmaking and add endless variations to create designs that are uniquely yours.

Designer and metalsmith Megan Auman has built her own jewelry line by discovering her signature style in chainmaking, and now she wants to help you do the same!

In this class, you will learn how to:

  • Make and solder jump rings into a basic link-in link-chain.
  • Create variation in your chainmaking through wire gauge, link size, shape, and more.
  • Hone in on your aesthetic to find a style that’s uniquely you.
  • Finish your chains so they’re sturdy and stunning.
  • Turn your chainmaking explorations into amazing earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.

Whether you’re just getting started in metalsmithing, or you’re looking to inject some creativity into your jewelry designs, you’ll leave this class with the skills and ideas necessary to create your own unique chain. Plus, you’ll explore your ideas by creating a series of chain-link statement earrings - perfect to wear, share, or sell!