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Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 19 of 22

Pickling, Cleaning, and Polishing Your Chain


Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 19 of 22

Pickling, Cleaning, and Polishing Your Chain


Lesson Info

Pickling, Cleaning, and Polishing Your Chain

Now let's start to talk about finishing your chain. So if you're making a necklace or a bracelet, your clasp is going to be the last thing that you add. You put together all your chain using singles, packets of three, packets of seven et cetera, et cetera, until we get to where we need to be. And then you'll add your clasp on. And now we're going to go ahead and talk about all of our little finishing steps. I know we've got two variables left. We're going to get to those as well. So the first question might be just how often should you pickle your chain? I generally like to pickle throughout the process because when you have tacky flux on there, it's kind of gross but technically you don't have to. You can technically just solder all your links, quench them, dry them off, keep assembling them, it's a little harder on your tools if you're like actually using your pliers and you're getting that kind of solder gunk on there. So if you're working with a lot of your tools, I say after every...

solder step, pickle. But if for some reason you don't really have that kind of time, as long as you pickle once at the end, you're actually okay. So now what I want to show you guys is I want to solve our little problem of, let's find some stuff in here that looks pretty rough. We're gonna solve our problem of oh hey, all of my brass links turned copper, right? Either in the soldering process or in the pickle itself. And again, do not panic if your brass turns copper color. That is perfectly normal. That's just copper coming through to the surface. This will also work, this little trick that I'm about to show you guys. It will also work if you accidentally contaminate your pickle and flash your silver copper. So if you forget and you take your steel tweezers and you stick them in there to pull out your silver thing and you contaminate it and suddenly you're like, oh my gosh my beautiful silver is now copper, this trick will work for that too. But if you're working with brass or you're working with bronze, you're always going to want to do this step because it's going to take that copper off. And I recommend doing it on bronze as well as brass. Brass it's pretty obvious that you're like this used to be yellow and now it's copper colored. Bronze it's harder to notice because bronze kind of errs closer towards copper anyway but I like to do it with all my bronze because it does take a little bit of that copper off and brings it closer to where I think bronze is supposed to look which is kind of halfway in between brass and copper. So what we're going to do is we're going to mix up something I call hyper pickle. So I started by actually mixing a little bit of pickle in here. So mixing pickle the same way you would mix it per the manufacturer's instructions. So whatever your manufacturer says with the water to pickle ratio, you're gonna mix up a regular batch of pickle. And I let my pickle granules dissolve in here. Then I'm going to take hydrogen peroxide. And this is something where, because we are pouring liquid into acid. I put my safety glasses on just to be safe. You want to avoid kind of splashing. In a perfect world, I'd actually be wearing goggles. In a perfect world, I would have opened this hydrogen peroxide before we went on camera. So I typically use a ratio of about one to one or maybe kind of two to one pickle to hydrogen peroxide. Megan gets impatient. This is kind of the theme of our day right. So I always like to add in more hydrogen peroxide because I want it to go like really fast. And so what I'm going to do is I'm going to just add some hydrogen peroxide in here. I feel like I'm teaching chemistry right now, it's kind of fun. And now I'm just gonna go ahead and drop everything in here and I don't really know how strong we've mixed this, so we are going to wait a second. What we're looking for at some point this is going to start to bubble. And we're going to actually start to see it start to bubble and start to see our surface turn back to yellow. Now that sometimes takes a minute and since you know a watched pot never boils, we're gonna kind of set this right here and keep an eye on it while that's happening. I do recommend you do this process. It's a little stinky so I recommend you do it in whatever same ventilated area you typically solder in. So we're going to keep an eye on that while we continue to talk about finishing. So the one other thing you'll notice as this is happening is if you used certain types of solder, I think this happens with the yellow silver solder, for some reason in this hyper pickle solution it actually turns that solder black. Which is not a big deal. It just kind of cleans back off but for some reason it pulls whatever copper out of the surface of the solder too and it ends up turning black. Don't panic. That is just what happens. Okay so we can start to see, I don't know if we can see this. We're starting to get some bubbles forming. Did you guys see that? I don't know if we can zoom in on that guy at all. The surface is starting to look like it's got bubbles forming around it. That's perfect. That's how we know it's working. So we're just going to set it back aside now and keep talking about our finishing for a minute. Yes. Megan quick question. Absolutely. Can you repeat that recipe of the two to one recipe again? Yeah so I use anywhere from one part of my picke mixture, which is pickle and water. So one part of that to one part hydrogen peroxide to like two parts pickle one part hydrogen peroxide. So basically it's either two thirds pickle or it's about half and half pickle. Thank you. That make sense? Yeah and again I do it all by eyeball. And if I think it's moving too slow, I usually add a little bit more hydrogen peroxide in here. The othet thing with this mixture is it gets spent much more quickly than your pickle itself. And that's because hydrogen peroxide actually breaks down in light. So a little chemistry lesson. Hydrogen peroxide if you expose it to light, it drops one of the O's and it turns into H2O which is water. So this definitely does not last as long so I find that usually if I mix it up, I kind of wait until I have a big batch because it's only going to last me a couple of hours. By the next day, it's usually no good. I can maybe juice it a couple hours later with a little more hydrogen peroxide but after that I have to start over. So just keep in mind, don't be like okay I finished one thing. I'm gonna do this. Finish a batch and then go ahead and mix that up. Because I think hydrogen peroxide has different percentages, is there like a certain percentage that you You know I did not specify that when we ordered this one, so I have no idea what this one is. But it sticks in my head that what I use in my studio is the 3%. 3% okay. I don't know why I remember that but I'm pretty sure that's what I buy. But usually I just buy whatever I can find on hand. So yeah. So the other thing that you want to do in your cleanup process is that you want to remove any excess solder from your links. So let me see if I can find something. It's all in here. Let's see what's in our messy pile. So we want to go in and just, don't do what I'm doing which is pull things out of the water and then let them stay wet. We want to dry, I am drying it so. We never want to take anything wet to our metal tools because all our tools are steel and they will rust. So I pulled this guy out just to kind of show this here. But you want to make sure, and this is stuff I do at the very end. I have my nail file here already. The last step you want to do after you hyper pickle, and again I recommend doing this after you hyper pickle because certain types of solder are going to might turn black in the hyper pickle. Then we're going to come into our chain and you want to file off any excess solder. This process right here will train you not to use too much solder, right? Because if you have to sit here and file all of this off, you're gonna drive yourself crazy. And so we actually want to match kind of the shape of our files to the shape of our jump rings here. So I like just a regular set of needle files. They come in all different shapes and in this case, I'm actually going to grab my half round, so round on one side, flat on the other. Since most of my solder seems to be sitting here on the inside, so I'm just gonna come in. And needle files are multi-directional. So I'm just gonna come in and file this off. And so for those of you who were asking you know, I have this solder and it's a slightly different color than whatever metal I put it on, yes solder will always be a slightly different color from whatever metal you use it on. And so we want to go in and clean up any excess. And this is also why because you do need to take the time to kind of do this step. This is also why if I say had I had something where my solder jumped really heavily to one side or I ended up with a glob, I would personally rather just pitch that link than try to spend all this time cleaning off the solder. Ideally, you shouldn't have to do much cleaning. You do want to pay attention. As I was kind of doing this, I sort of inadvertently flattened around my seam a little bit. So you want to pay attention that you're not altering the shape. So I'm just gonna come back in here. And you can see I'm kind of going like a rounded motion. And just taking off any excess solder. And for those of you who are saying Megan can I do this faster with a flex shaft or a rotary tool, yes you can get things that grind like little grinding bits that you can put in your flex shaft that make quick work of this. So if you're looking for a shortcut on this one, your flex shaft is absolutely your best friend in terms of cleanup. And again, the less solder you use in the beginning, the less of this you have to do. Let's take a look at our hyper pickle. So I can see it's starting to come up a little bit. If we look at kind of like the middle of our long leaf shape. You can see it's starting to lighten up a little. Our color's getting a little yellower. And I find it generally this process can take up to an hour depending on how strong you've mixed it. So I usually say plan on that it can take as long as an hour. But because this is basically an acid that's etching quickly, I like to check on it every five or so minutes. So that's my rule of thumb on that. So we're just gonna let that keep hanging out there while we work. And I do exactly what I'm doing here. I throw a batch in and I do something else in my studio for the rest of the day. Alright, question? Yes is the pickle that you're using over there warm? It is not. And if I were to make it warm, it would go faster but we only have one crockpot. And the same thing in my studio. I always mix it cold and it works just fine so. Thank you. If I'm really kind of in a pinch in my own studio, when I mix the pickle I will mix the pickle with warm water out of the tap so it's at least warmer to start. But we mixed our pickle this morning and it's been sitting in our chilly studio all day. So it's definitely on the slow side right now because it's definitely cool. Perfect alright. So getting back to our variables. Another variable that you actually have in terms of working on your chain, is thinking about the finish or polish of the links or chain. Because this can really again give you a lot of different options and help you hone your aesthetic. So the first thing that you might want to think about is, I'm gonna get my tuggle mess out of the way here is simply shiny versus matte. You know, do you want your chain to be kind of soft matte finish or do you want it to be kind of really high polish high shine? My recommendation is if you're going to do a lot of chain making, it's worth spending a little bit of money to get a tumbler. Now we did not bring a tumbler on set because it would just be an obnoxious noise. And I didn't want to put that in my checked luggage. So this is actually my tumbler form home. It looks remarkably like a rock polishing tumbler because technically it is. I think it's probably like a hundred bucks. It's not expensive. I've been using mine for years and it works just fine. So if you're doing a lot of chain making, whether you're soldering or not, a tumbler is a great option because not only does a tumbler polish, but a tumbler also work hardens. What do we do to preserve the shapes to make sure they don't crush? Yeah so I thought this was such a funny way to put it because I would've never said how do you preserve the shape. Because what we're talking about in kind of metal smoothing terms is work hardening. So if you're using a thick enough gauge of wire, pretty much once you bend it, you've already put kind of enough work hardening on it that it's probably going to stay. But if you're using something thinner, you want to work harden it so that it becomes less malleable. That's our fancy word for squishy. So it becomes less malleable and you can use it. And really the best way to work harden something is with the tumbler. If you don't have a tumbler, the second best way is to hammer it which we're going to get to in a little bit. But so that's really the best way to kind of to preserve, as Tracy put it, your shapes. So a tumbler's great because it will work harden but it will also mass finish make it shiny or matte. So in my own tumbler at home, I actually use two different types of polishing media. I use this green guy which is basically a matte satin finish. I'm gonna actually just, you don't really need to see that. Let's put this guy in here. So this is that kind of matte satin finish. I am a huge fan of kind of a matte finish. I'm not a shiny girl. So I use a lot of that green, plastic media. And all your tumbler media you can get from any jewelry supplier. You want things that are specific for metal, you don't want the thing that polishes rocks. So you can get something like that or you can use something like steel shot which is actually going to make your chain even shinier. Both of these chains are actually the same brass. So you can see how the color changes just by what I've tumbled it in. And the way that your tumbler works is that you need liquid and something that's going to also give you a little bit of lubrication. So I personally, even though this is sort of heresay, in my green tumbler media, I usually just throw in a tiny little bit of soap. But your steel shot that you really want to get a tumbler compound. So there's like polishing compounds for your tumbler. They're basically a little tub of blue liquid. And you want to add a little bit of that in there. So what I do is I take, if this was my tumbler barrel, I put my tumbler media in here. I throw in my chain and then I usually add just enough water to cover my media. So you don't want a whole tumbler barrel full of water because it's just gonna leak out, right? So just enough to cover my media. And then if I'm using steel shot, I'll use just a little capful of that blue polishing compound or if I'm using my little green guys here, I usually just take like a tiny little finger of whatever soap happens to be sitting next to my sink and just put it in there with my water. So that is by far the easiest way to finish your chains. And like I said, I'm all about doing things in the most inexpensive way possible. But if you're doing a lot of chain making, it is so worth spending the money to do it. And in fact, if you're like I'm really into chain making and I'm trying to decide what I want to buy first, a tumbler or a torch. If you're not comfortable soldering, buy the tumbler. Because now you can work hard on all of those forms and finish everything really easily. And it's a nice little investment. And when you tumble, you're really gonna want to leave it in there for usually anywhere between three to six hours depending on how much you need to work harden. So most of my chains I use a lot of 12 gauge. And so it's pretty darn tough and I don't really need to do a lot of work hardening. So I'll just throw it in my green media for maybe an hour or two because really all I'm trying to do is get a consistent satin finish. But if you know that you really need to work harden, I would say somewhere in the four to six hour range at least. And some people tumble much longer. If you got something really, really thin and delicate and you really need it to be work harden, you can actually throw it in your tumbler overnight and come back to it in the morning. I also personally keep my tumbler in a separate room from my studio because that is really annoying. So I have my studio and I keep my tumbler in the garage and I keep the door closed so I can barely hear it. Any questions about the tumbler? Megan we do have a question. If you happen to know the brand of the tumbler that you use. I have no idea because I bought it like a million years ago but if that person tweets me next week, I will look when I'm back in my studio. And I'm just at Megan Auman on Twitter. And let's see a couple more. How to tumble if you mix matte and shiny links in the same piece. Which tumbling media to use? So you can't. Because it's an all over finish. So what I would recommend is if you wanted a chain that was both matte and shiny, I would tumble in your shiny material and then I would come back in after with either polishing paper or sandpaper or whatever something that's going to make you matte. And I'm actually going to show you that in just a second. Go back and manually make the links matte that you want matte because everything that goes in the tumbler is gonna get shiny. I would do shiny first in the tumbler and kind of manipulate by hand to get matte. Thank you. And then Amy Quinn would like to know, when I tumble my silver it comes out all black and I have to clean it with simple green. What am I doing wrong? So that probably means that your steel shot is dirty or you're not using the polishing compound. If you don't use that polishing compound, it really will blacken. The soap wants to make it dirty and black but I'm guessing that your tumbling media was dirty or even the inside of your tumbler barrel. So in that case I would either take out your steel shot, give it a real thorough cleaning, let it airdry. Try it again and make sure also buy new of the blue tumbling compound and same thing. Clean out your tumbler barrel and if that doesn't work, I would probably buy a new tumbling barrel. You don't need a whole new tumbler just the barrel itself. Buy a new barrel. Buy a new batch of steel shot and start again because I think somewhere in there there's probably some contamination. Great and we have a student would like to know if you use baking soda in your cleaning process. I do not. But you can and I believe, I'm thinking that it's probably getting used like pumice so one of the things I am not showing because I don't personally use it in my own studio, but when I was in school and I when I used to teach a lot, one of the things we would do is get a brass brush, it just looks like a brush with brass bristles coming out and you can take a little pumice or baking soda and actually scrub that and that will clean your material off as well. I'm thinking that's what they're thinking. And if not I don't know because I actually don't use it. Okay great. And then shop to blooms would like to know, for finer chains that are one to four miliimeter, would you have to tumble each one separately if you put in a few together they get all twisted up. You know honestly for a chain that was really that fine, I probably wouldn't tumble it at all because it's a commercially made chain. And so if I can, I'd usually want to avoid soldering onto the commercially made chain. But I would say, I would do a test run. So put one in, make sure it comes out okay. If that works fine, next time put two in see what happens but generally things get pretty tangly in the tumbler, so I would generally avoid putting a fine chain in there if I can because I think you're gonna end up with knots pretty quickly. By the time you get up to three millimeters, I think you're gonna be okay. But that one millimeter chain is so fine that I would worry about that. So one or two I probably wouldn't, if it's one or two millimeter I probably wouldn't put a bunch of them in the tumbler because you're gonna end up with a knotted mess. Great and we're good over here. Perfect alright. So if you don't have a tumbler, you can still clean your chain. And really I do a lot of cleaning of my chain by hand as well. And so I like these abrasive papers. And they come in they're called polishing papers or abrasive papers and they come in different grits just like your sandpaper does. So I really like these because they kind of again give you that nice, satin finish depending on how much grit you're using. So I usually tear a little piece off or cut a little piece off. Let's find something dirty here. And then I'll just come in and she probably was doing the whole chain. I would just work my way through the chain. You can see give it a little cleaning. Obviously throwing something in the tumbler is going to be much faster. But this will kind of give you a nice satin finish. So for the person who asked what if I want that kind of shiny matte, I would make it shiny in the tumbler and then I would come back through. Even though this looks fairly shiny, it still we be much more matte than a tumbler finish. And if you wanted it even more matte still, you could use this green. I believe this is like 400 grit. It's definitely more aggressive than our pink guy. So this would take it down. You can see how this guy is like really nice and matte here. So you can do things like that to clean. And it's really unfortunately pretty slow which is why if you are doing a lot of chain making, the tumbler is definitely your best friend. But you can certainly clean chains by hand. You can also get, you're never going to get something super, super shiny with the polishing cloth. For those of you who are in the statement earrings class, you don't have to work your way through all the grits of polishing paper like you do when you're working with sheet metal because typically your wire isn't going to get those kind of big scratches in it. So I would just pick whatever grit gets you the finish you want and clean your chain once. You don't have to do this step like 12 times. You can also grab something like, this is a sunshine polishing clock. So you can always kind of go back in and just give your chain a little bit of hand polish. And actually this polishing cloth, I'm gonna throw this in here so you guys can see. So this one here was our pink guy. That was our green, more aggressive guy. And this guy right here was our polishing clock. So I got them pretty shiny just with a little bit of rubbing in our polishing cloth here. So you can buy these from a jewelry supplier as well. And if you are selling high polished chain to customers, say you have a chain that you put through a tumbler but you want to help your customers keep it shiny they make these polishing cloths in smaller individual sized packets and so you can actually drop these in your customer's orders or give them out at craft shows. It gives people a way to clean their jewelry and keep it nice and shiny. It's just a nice little added trick that you can add in there and make your customers really happy. What I like about chain making is that in general, it involves much less surface finishing than sheet metal does because it's much less surface area to deal with. Rita Mitchell would like to know is there a way to deter the tarnishing of sterling silver jewelry? We're getting there right now. Oh there we go. So for sterling silver, unfortunately there's not really a great way. You can get anti-tarnish bags to keep. And the other thing that I say is never store your jewelry in a bathroom and tell your customers never to stor their jewelry in a bathroom because the humidity in a bathroom is always going to up oxidation. But if you're really concerned about silver tarnishing, the best thing you can do is switch over to Argentium Silver. Again it's a little more expensive, but it's that anti-tarnish silver. And if you're one of those people who it drives you nuts that silver tarnishes, spending a couple extra bucks on Argentium is definitely the way to go there. Now things that are definitely going to oxidize much more quickly are brass, bronze and copper. You do want to take the time to think about sealing those because our customers don't want to have to be cleaning a chain all of the time. So as we mentioned, any metal containing copper is going to oxidize or tarnish over time. And that's why sterling silver actually oxidizes because it too contains copper. So the other thing is making sure when you're heating up your silver it doesn't get a lot of fire scale because of course the fire scale is gonna want to tarnish really quickly as well. So when it comes to sealing brass bronze or copper, I like two different options. One, and I believe we have it here, is something called ren wax. And what's nice about ren wax is that you can actually go ahead and just lightly buff this on. But it's not a permanent coating. So that's kind of a downfall and that eventually it will wear off over time. But it's also a bonus in that if you have to fix it, you can do that. So you can wax it. And I just like to wax on, wax off. Right so put a little wax on, come back with a cleaner corner, kind of buff it out. You can see a downside here is that in an unsoldered link, it wants to get caught in that little space. So that is a downside of our ren wax. So that's one option. The other option, and I tend to use this more with chains is what's called our bulldog spray. If we can go back to our slide we can see a picture of it. I call it bulldog spray. It's actually a company called Sculpt Nouveau and it's their clear guard. And so it comes in matte and satin and it also comes in a low VOC version which I always spring the extra buck for because no one want to breathe awful fumes if you can avoid it. And so what I do with chain making if you want to spray your chains to keep them, you can do two things. One, you can actually hang your chain. You can make like a little bar a little hook. Hang your chain. Kind of spray one side, spray around it and actually take the chain and after you spray it, just give it a quick little pat to kind of make sure everything's like loose and covered. And then maybe do one or two coats of that. I never have a hanging contraption and my chains tend to be pretty big and chunky so I'll just lay my chain down, spray it, kind of flip it over, make sure I can see that I flipped it. Spray it again. If you're not sure maybe give it a third roll and then spray it again. So those are your options in terms of sealing your brass, bronze or copper. I don't recommend using either one of those on silver. Most people who get silver expect it not to be coated. So it's better just to do things like give out the anti-tarnish bags, give out the polishing cloths or switch to Argentium so it doesn't tarnish. The other question that people may be wondering about are things like liver of sulfur. Which is basically an oxidizing compound. I did not bring liver of sulfur with me today. But it's basically comes in chunk or liquid form. And it smells like rotten eggs because it's sulfur. And what you do is if you got the chunk form, you mix it in water. I recommend buying the chunk form of liver of sulfur because it lasts longer. I've had a can of liver of sulfur chunks literally for like years and years and years now. And I just take a couple little pieces out, dissolve them in water, and so you can throw silver or copper in there and it's going to go ahead and turn that dark color. For brass or bronze, you want to look for something like if you just go to Rio's website or any other jewelry supplier's website, you'll find something to the effect of, oxidizer or liver of sulfur equivalent for brass or bronze. So they'll sell those as well. So if you want your chain to be dark. The one thing to remember about liver of sulfur or pretty much any other surface treatment is they aren't permanent. They will wear down over time. So know that if you liver of sulfur a chain black, it's not going to stay black forever. So that is something just to kind of keep in mind if you're selling pieces or giving them to customers is that liver of sulfur, even if you seal it. And I do wax. If I'm liver of sulfuring, I do put wax on that because I want to preserve it a little bit longer. But even if you seal it, it is going to wear over time. So just keep that in mind. It definitely is something that is better for earrings where they're getting less handled than say bracelets or necklaces. Yeah. Question from Jenna, how do you explain the need to periodically reseal pieces to your customers? I tell customers in my little care card. I have a care card that says like I recommend occasionally resealing this with wax. And you can even say with a renaissance wax so that it's very clear to them. You can also put it in the FAQs in your piece. The other thing is that generally I will take pieces back from a customer if it really needs to be refinished. That's just one of those things I build into my pricing. So I know most people will not take you up on it. But it's kind of one of those nice goodwill things you can do for a customer. I usually just give a little care card that explains like, if you don't want this to tarnish, you may occasionally want to reseal it. Great and can you answer, do you want to go into the steps of actually oxidizing the metals? So yes, as in what do you do? Yes. I didn't know if we had time for that. Yeah so really if you were going to liver sulfur something really, really quickly, that's the most common one so we're just going to deal with liver of sulfur. So you're going to take a couple chunks of liver of sulfur out of your can, put them in a little container or something like this of water. So I put a couple chunks in and I fill it with water. Liver of sulfur also works faster when it's warm. I don't heat mine because I find that people get crazy when liver of sulfur gets hot. They like forget things. So what I do is I, as I'm mixing it I turn my tap and let it run until it's warm and then just put it warm water in there. Then you're gonna drop your piece in there until it gets dark. It's going to go through some funky blues and things first. Resist the urge to take it out, let it get dark but once it gets dark, pull it out immediately because if you leave it in too long, it will actually continue to build on the surface but it won't be a nice finish. It will actually want to flake off. So basically as soon as you can, take it out of the liquid, just go ahead and rinse it off and then I just lay mine out on a towel to airdry because again, we want to avoid handling it. So I lay it out to airdry and then the last thing I do is put a little wax on it to seal the surface. Or if you want you can use the bulldog spray too. And that's really it for the liver of sulfur. It's a pretty simple process. But it's definitely the last step that you want to do. So all your final finishing, all your cleaning. Even your tumbling, I personally tumble first and then liver of sulfur. Because tumbling will take some of the liver of sulfur back off. Now you can use that to your advantage if you don't want your silver to be black. If you want it to be kind of like sort of oxidized but a little bit shiny at the same time. You can liver of sulfur and then tumble but you should also if you're going to do that, keep a separate tumbler barrel and tumbler media just for liver of sulfur. So that may be the other person if their thing turned black. If you've ever thrown something with liver of sulfur in your tumbler media, that maybe why it keeps turning things black now. Alright so this, let's take one last look at our hyper pickle here. And you can see, look at our little quench water too. That this guy is starting to come back. You can see how it is much yellower now, right? Than our original kind of Maybe put that in the close-up cam? Oh yeah because it's all wet. Hold on. Let me dry it off because I don't want to get my sketchbook all wet. Alright so you can see here. Now we're starting to get a little bit yellower. This was our kind of flashed color. So I think looking at this now that I can see it on the white, that looks pretty good. So I would probably go ahead and pull all of that out. Usually with bronze, it's a little harder to tell. So if it's bronze I would leave it in there a little longer. But all of our brass looks pretty nice and brassy. So we'll go ahead and pull this out. And if you have a lot and you're doing a big batch, just like with your pickle, your hyper pickle is eventually going to turn blue because it's gonna get those copper oxides in there. So just like with your regular pickle, you don't want to dump this down the drain. You want to give a call to whoever your local waste removal is and just ask them the best way to dispose of it. So any last questions about our hyper pickle now that we know it worked? It's kind of magic. It saves you a lot of sanding time. I have one question. Does the hyper pickle work for copper? There's no point in using it for copper because copper is copper. So the hyper pickle works to remove the copper oxides from the surface. So if your copper has copper on it, it's not a big deal. And actually the reverse is true. So let's just say that you have copper and you have very obvious silver solder seams. And you would like them to look copper, you can actually take a little bit of spent pickle. Your pickle needs to be really blue in order for this to work. You can take a little bit of spent pickle, throw steel wool or an old nail or something in there. Or something you don't care that it's going to get ruined, and then drop your copper piece in there. And actually intentionally copper plate your surface, it will copper plate your solder seams. So that's the kind of reverse. So copper you'd actually do the reverse. You want to put it on rather than take it off.

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!