Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jewelry School Adventures - Chains & Clasps

The topic of this week's class was simple clasps and chain. First we learned to make jump rings in various ways, including sawing wire coils and using a jump ring maker. We fused a batch of the smaller rings and squashed them gently into ovals. Then we assembled the chain with heavier round links that were soldered. We added a heavy ring and toggle bar with ball ends, both with soldered jump rings.

Argentium chain link bracelet
double oval fused links alternating with single round soldered links

Afterwards, we moved on to forming wire into a simple S clasp and pendant enhancer, both in heavy 14 gauge wire which made them more difficult to form than my usual lighter weight experience. I particularly enjoyed the interlocking C ring clasp, which was actually quick and easy to make once you know the trick.

Argentium S hook, pendant enhancer &
interlocking C-ring clasp
Finally, we spent quite a bit of time learning to form tubing from sheet. The initial forming is simple, as is the drawing through successfully smaller holes in the draw plate.  The key, as with many things, is having the correct tools. I have two different rounds of tubing shown here. The two pieces on the left were cut from a tube made from heavier sheet, fused together for applications requiring seamless tubing. The two pieces on the right were from a run started with lighter weight sheet, with the seam left open for applications such as hinges where that fusing step isn't necessary. I did the second round as part of my extra time on Friday, to be used as the hinge tube for the pin mechanism on the brooch I made in the sawing class.

drawn Argentium tubing
A piece of the class tubing was converted into this tiny bayonet clasp for a necklace. A top and bottom were fused onto the tube (with a hole in one end), while the jump rings were soldered on. The bayonet itself is made by sawing a section of 12 gauge wire in half -- definitely a challenge! I soldered on the tiny ball to the end of the bayonet after I melted it while trying to solder on the jump ring. This week's class was definitely good for learning to fuse and solder small, delicate parts. I'm feeling much more confident in my fusing and soldering skills now.

Argentium bayonet clasp made from
drawn tubing and split wire