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Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 5 of 22

The 10 Variables of Chain Making


Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 5 of 22

The 10 Variables of Chain Making


Lesson Info

The 10 Variables of Chain Making

Let's start with what we're really going to be learning today, which are the 10 variables of chain making. The foundation of this class is really a basic link-in-link chain. And you may also see this called a cable chain and I'll just throw in up here on our little sample board here. And literally at its core, it's just a round jump ring linked together one after the other after the other. And that's really the basic chain. But what I love about this type of chain, is that it allows for endless variation. You have so many choices when it comes to chain making, that by the end of this, you can take that simple loop-in-loop chain and really make it your own. We're going to be going through these 10 variables throughout the course of the day, but I want to introduce them to you so you can really get a sense for them. And just so you guys know, if you purchase this course, one of our PDF bonuses is actually this list plus a worksheet, so you can work through all these variables and think a...

bout how you want to incorporate them into your own chain designs. Our 10 variables. Our first one is type of metals. So we're going to talk about the different types of metal that are available for you in your chain making. Our second one is thickness or gauge of wire. We'll be talking more about that. Really depending on how thick or thin the wire that you're using, it can really change the feel of your chain. Then we're going to talk about the shape of wire. If you've never worked with wire before, you may or may not know, that it comes in more than round. Round wire is standard, but wire actually comes in all different shapes and so you can use that as a variable in your chain making as well. Then we're going to talk about the size of the links because the size of the links that you use can really determine again, the feel of the chain. Do you want big, chunky links or tiny little delicate links? So just playing with that can really change the feel of your chain. Then we're going to talk about changing the shape of links before soldering. So like I said, we've got this basic circle, but there are so many more shapes that you can make when you're chain making. From ovals to squares to rectangles to pretty much the sky's the limit. So we're going to talk about those. Then we're going to talk about the shape of the links after soldering. We can do a lot to manipulate our shape beforehand, but if you do solder your links, you can also take these round links and transform the shape after we solder them together, so there's some fun options there too. And when we talk about that, we're going to talk about one of my favorite chain making styles, which is called a loop-in-loop chain. Not to be confused with our link-in-link chain. Very clear terminology here in the metals, good thing we're all *. But we're going to learn this really classical loop-in-loop chain that I'm kind of obsessed with and that I've been obsessed with for years. So I'm going to show you guys that fun one too. Then we're going to talk about the number of links or strands. So of course, we can start with one link and one link and one link, but what happens when we throw two links and two links, or two links every other link? So we're going to look at some possibilities for play there as well. The same thing with configuration of links. So what if we use a big link next to a small link and then a big link next to a small link? So we'll look at some playful ideas with that as well. Then we're going to talk about finish or polish of your links of chains, so just depending on if you want it to be high polish or a matte finish, that's going to give you some variables in your chain making as well. Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging, I'll show you guys how to finish your chain in a lot of different ways. And finally, we're going to talk about hammering or texturing of links. If you want to have a lot of fun and really start to feel like a real metal smith, you can pull your hammer out and we're going to start to bang on some metal at the end of the day. What do you guys think? Are you excited about those variables? Do you have any questions about them or are any of them jumping out at you? It's like, ooh, I can't wait to learn more. We are like, we want to get to them all, right? And one of the things, Megan, that we've been talking about is that when you take these 10 variables, there's unlimited -- Exactly. Limited, really, variations that you can do in creating jewelry. Absolutely, it's really like the sky is the limit when you start putting them together. And you're going to see a lot of samples today. And hopefully it's going to get the wheels turning and you're going to have even more ideas off of what we're looking at here.

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!