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Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 13 of 22

Making Different Shaped Links by Joining


Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 13 of 22

Making Different Shaped Links by Joining


Lesson Info

Making Different Shaped Links by Joining

So any time you really want a nice tight point, or like we did with our little flower example here, where we've got multiple things that you want to join together, you can make links by joining with solder just like we did with anything else. So I went ahead and I made these little, I wanted to make this really pointed leaf shape, and obviously no amount of bending is going to get that point. It's just not possible. So the best way to do that is to actually take two pieces of wire and just put it together. And so this is where, again, we really need to go in and file. So in this case, I've got my wire and I've pre-filed a couple but I'll just show you guys. Again, finding the best spot here because I'm not filing flush to my edge. I'm trying to put that angle on there so they fit. And then I'm gonna go ahead and file this till it gets to that angle that I want. So now if I were to set this on the table, it would actually sit flat on my bench pin. So once you've filed those, and I went ...

ahead and pre-filed a couple, now you can actually just go ahead and solder. So let's pull our soldering guys out here really quick. So this is one of those cases where, just like our previous work flow, we're not going to solder everything finished, right? We're going to divide what we need in half. So the first thing that you're gonna do, if I were making a chain out of this, is I would take half of my links and solder them closed. So I'm just gonna show you guys solder placement on this, so we'll actually go ahead and solder here. So again, I'm a big fan of just dunking things in there. Make sure there's enough. Then I'm gonna make sure that we're really pressed tight, and if you're having trouble, where it seems like it's not lining up, you may need to just move to a different spot on your solder board. Get those guys lined up. And just because, as we kinda talked about in a previous segment, this is a thicker seam so I will probably stick two pieces of solder in there, just 'cause this is a slightly thicker gauge wire that I was using, so my seams gotta cover a little bit more. And I will solder on half of my links. We'll get to the other half in a second. On half of my links, I would solder them completely closed, just like we did in our last lesson with half our jump rings. So if I were doing this, I would do both ends. And it's a little bit trickier because now we have to pay attention to the fact that now we've got seams on both ends that we're trying to solder at once so we want to kind of keep that heating even and make sure that we're not overheating one side over the other or letting one side oxidize before we get back to that corner. (soldering torch hisses) And the same thing, I'm just taking this slow for a second 'cause my flux is very liquidy and I don't really want to chase solder pieces all over the board. So I'm going to go ahead and come in here. So while you're doing that, are you ready for a little question? Absolutely. And you might have shown it but I'm going to reiterate, have you reiterate, Martha would like to know, how exactly did you get the matching curves in those two pieces? That's a good question. I basically just bent them. I did not answer that actually. I literally just bent them with my fingers and I eyeballed them. I'll show you in a second basically what I did once I solder this. There was nothing, in this case, there was no real magic trick to it. But I'll also tell you a magic trick then, if you really wanted to. So alright, so that's that. I would do that with half of my pieces. So to get that, let's see, where are my tweezers? There they are. And then I would go ahead and quench this guy and pickle it. To get that curve, literally all I did was cut every piece of wire to the same length and then I basically just did this until I was happy with it. If you can't eyeball that, this is one of those cases where I would take that piece of PVC pipe or something that's round in my studio and just, like we'll pretend that's this, and if all of them were the same, I would just bend them all around that, to get the same curve. So basically anything that you can find in your studio is fair game as a jig or a mandrel. That's pretty much my rule of thumb. So once you've gotten half of them that are completely soldered closed, what you're actually gonna wanna do is take, let's see if I can find it, take the other half and only solder in this case one joint. So you can see this one is still open from here. So you'll take the first half, solder them completely closed, the second half you'll leave one joint open. So this is a case where I only have two joints on here but if I were, say, making a square, like if you wanted to make the most precise square possible, you would take four pieces of wire, file all the ends and solder each end together. So in that case, I would solder three of my corners and leave the fourth one open. And then, just like we did before, now I'll open this up, put this on here and then solder this corner as well. And then I would have packets of three, packets of seven, whatever I needed to make that chain. Make sense? Awesome. Alright, so that is filing by joining. And again, you can get as complex as you want. So we could do that little flower. If you wanted it to be, we were talking about graphic versus realistic, right? You could create a pretty realistic rose by bending and moving out from there. So really the sky's the limit in terms of those shapes. And always remember to file your ends so that they fit.

Class Description

Go beyond the basics of handmade chain making 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 chain making 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 chain making, 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 chain making 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 chain making 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!



Megan' an excellent instructor and lays things out very clearly, with a lot of good tips based on her extensive experience. I've experience making wire wrapped chain and have taken a beginning metalsmithing class before, and this class had some good refresher information. I particularly appreciated seeing her techniques and process for streamlining production.

a Creativelive Student

Megan is an awesome teacher! She is genuinely enthusiastic about sharing her metalsmithing skills with us. I am really looking forward to trying my hand at designing and making a chained necklace on my own soon.

Vernell Bevelander

Another excellent class! Thank you Megan!